Often when traveling to the Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore are the top of the must-go destination list. Itinerary plans revolve in visiting the best sites of these countries and so, going to Laos is probably just at the back of the mind. It is only when there is ample time or when there are changes made to the tours suggested by travel agencies should they go to explore more and that’s when Laos comes in. Get to know more of Laos and be informed before traveling!
Laos – Where is it?
Laos is a landlocked country in the Southeast Asia which is traversed by the great Mekong River. Its neighbouring countries are Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Although landlocked, it has 4,000 islands separated by the river Mekong alone. Its Capital is Vientianne and it is known for its French colonial architecture, the French Patuxia landmark and That Luang monument site – which is reported to house Buddha’s breastbone.
Photo by Jeroen from Wikimedia Commons
Those who plan to visit Laos must obtain visa online or from the Laotian diplomatic missions. This is not applicable however, to the countries listed as exempt for visa specified with days.
The rest of the countries require visa on arrival or visa required in advance.
Countries visa exempt for 30 days:
Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand
Countries visa exempt for 15 days or eVisa for 30 days:
Japan, Switzerland, Luxembourg
Countries visa exempt for 14 days or eVisa for 30 days:
Laos’s currency is kip, which is derived from a lao word meaning ‘ingot’. They had their currency from 1952 after they gained independence from France and replaced the French Indochinese piaster. Banknotes range from 1 to 100,000 but banknotes below 1,000 are no longer used.
Cost of Living in Laos:
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 3.22 $
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 20.83 $
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 5.00 $
Cappuccino (regular) – 2.34 $
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 1.09 $
Weather & Climate
Like its neighboring tropical countries, Laos has a tropical climate. Its rainy season is from May through October, a hot dry season in March and April and a cool dry season from November to February. Having no coastline has made its weather straight forward, making Laos to be good for traveling all-year-round.
As mentioned in our previous blog, Laos has no railway system yet although it does have its plans for construction. Buses are mainly used to transfer from one city to another which takes several hours. Flights are the fast alternative. When traversing within the cities, tuk tuks or taxi are used.
Laos is the typical tropical country of mountain ranges, with Annamite range in the east and northeast and Luang Prabang range in the northwest. It also has the steep terrain, dense forests, narrow river valleys but it is also low in agricultural potential. Its 4,000 islands is separated by the Mekong Delta.
Photo by Anna Hoch-Kenney
Laotian or the Lao language is Laos’s official language. It is one of the Tai languages of the Southeast Asia and closely related to Tai Deng, Phu Thai, Tai Dam and Nyaw. Laos and Thailand had shared a portion of vocabularies and eventually, due to proximity, Lao was influenced by Thai, Pali and the Khmer language. Basic Laotian phrases are Sa bai di – Hello, Thank you – Khob chai, Yes – Doi, No – Men, Excuse me – Khaw toot, Goodbye – La gon and How are you – Sa Bai Di Bo
Lao national cuisine has a trifecta of the sticky rice, larb or marinated meat and tam mak hoong, a spicy papaya salad. The sticky rice called khao niao, ‘khao’ which means rice and ‘niao’ which means sticky, is the staple food. Their cuisine is also vibrant and colorful with herbs and vegetables, which also is a bit on the bitter and spicier side. Their famous foods include Kaipen, Tam Som, Khao Soi, Kua Phak Bong, Nem Luang and many more.
- In Laos’s culture, tipping is not required and paying more than the set price might just confuse the local.
- Laos is known as the most heavily bombed country when it was bombarded by the US during the Vietnam war. There are still bombs which have yet to explode and it affected the country’s daily livelihood.
- Vang Vieng was formerly a crazy night hub of back packers. The amount of deaths from alcohol over-consumption made the government take action and now, only nature adventures are offered in the city.
- Laos is landlocked but it has beaches and plenty of kayaking or tubing activites especially in Vang Vieng.
- Vientianne currently has a strong French influence and you might have to try the city’s pastries, breads and cookies of French origin which are just as good!
- Possibly the cheapest and best Hot-Air Balloon ride is in Laos. The ride is only 90 usd in Vang Vieng!
Which of these above do you know already? Is there any information we missed? Post it in the comments
If you are interested, contact us to arrange your trip! But before you do travel, check the latest news for the COVID-19 Travel Advisory
Read our previous Thailand and Laos post which is
in case you missed it!
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