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USEFUL INFORMATION FOR TRIPS TO LAOS
ID CARD OF LAOS
TOURIST VISA TO LAOS
HIGH LINE OF LAOS
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
DO’s and DON’T’s
EMBASSIES IN VIENTIANE
EMERGENCY SERVICE IN LAOS FOOD TRANSFER GUIDES IN LAOS HEALTH
IMPORT & EXPORT RESTRICTIONS INSURANCE MONEY MATTERS
RESTRICTED AREAS SAFETY SHOPPING TIME WHAT TO PREPARE
IDENTITY CARD OF LAOS– Location : Southest Asia – Neighbour : Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west – Area : 236 800 km².
– Population: around 6,7 million – Ethnic groups : 55% Lao, 11% Kamu, 8% Hmong, 26 % Others – Official Religion : Buddhism (67 %).
Update: Jul 2014 – Capitale : Vientiane – Spoken Language : lao, dialectes thaï (hmong, mon-khmer et sino-tibétain), French ans English.
– Currency : Kip ($1 = 8,000 KIP – July 2014).
International Airport: Laos has 4 international airports:
– Wattay International Airport in Vientiane Capital which has flights from Bangkok, Chieng Mai, Ha Noi, Saigon, Vinh, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Seoul, Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Kunming, Guangzhou. Located 5 km outside of the city center and around 15 minutes transfer, the airport consists of an old and small domestic terminal and a new international terminal.
– Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang which has flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ha Noi, Siem Reap. Located 3 km from city centre and around 10 minutes transfer, the airport is recently renovated and upgraded to reach international standard.
– Savanakhet International airport in Savanakhet which has flights from Bangkok.
Located 2 km and take around 10 minutes transfer, airport is quite small and basically equipped – Pakse International Airport in Champassak which has flights from Bangkok, Saigon and Siem Reap. Located around 4 km from city centre and take around 15 minutes transfer, airport is small and simply equipped.
Domestic airport: there are some popular airports for domestic routes such as Houai Xay, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Xiang Khoang, Xayabury… where regular flights from Vientiane Capital are operated.
Airport service: There are few services at the airport terminal with small restaurant/bar for food and beverage but limited selection. The location of airport is very close to city center and they arenot very busy so tourist does not have to arrive to airport too early to avoid waiting time especially for domestic flight.
Laos Central Airline is a private company which operates one domestic route Vientiane – Luang Prabang and one international route Vientiane – Bangkok.
Vietnam Airline, Thai Airway, Bangkok Airway, Air Asia operate some international route from some big cities in Asia areas such as Ha Noi, Saigon, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Siemrep, Phnombenh, Singapore, Kuala Lambur, Seoul, Kunming… There is no direct route from Europe to Laos.
Baggage allowance on domestic flights is limited to 20 kg. A fee of maximum $2USD per kg for domestic flight and $5/kg for international flight is charged for excess luggage but most of the time, if it is only a few kilograms extra, the airline waves this fee or your guide can give some help. Each passenger can carry onboard a free baggage allowance: one piece for Economy class passengers. Each piece has a maximum weight of 7kg and the sum of three dimensions shall not exceed 115 cm (30 cm x 60 cm x 18 cm) or (12 x 24 x 7 inches). Airlines companies may refuse to carry unchecked baggage and may require the passenger to check his baggage in case it exceeds the quantity, weight and dimensions as specified above.
AIRPORT TAXESThe domestic airport tax and the international airport tax are included in the air ticket and are not needed to be paid at the airport when checking in.
LAND BORDERLaos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. Many China-Laos
• Bohan - Boten (Yunnan - Luang Namtha Province) Myanmar
• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge IV (Chiang Khong- Houixay Bokeo Province)
• Nakaxeng - Nam Heuang Thali (Loei - Sayabouly Province)
• Houai Kon – Nam Ngeun (Nan - Sayabouly Province)
• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I (Nongkhay - Vientiane Capital)
• Train Station (Nongkhay - Vientiane Capital)
• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II (Moukdahan - Savannakhet Province)
• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge III (Nakorn Phanom - Thakhek Khammouane Province)
• Bungkan - Pakxan (Nongkhay-Bolikhamxay Province) "No Visa-on-arrival"
• Chongmek – Vangtao (Ubol Ratchathani to Champasack Province) Vietnam-Laos
• Taichang - Pang Hok, Dien Bien to Phongsaly Province
• Nameo - Nam Soi, Thanh Hoa to Houaphanh Province.
• Namkan - Namkan (Nge An - Xieng Khouang Province)
• Kao Jeo - Nam Pao (Ha tinh - Bolikhamxay Province)
• Napao - Chalo (Quangbinh - Khammouane Province)
• Laobao - Dansavanh (Quang tri - Savannakhet Province)
• Bo-er - Phou Keua (Kom Toum - Attapeu Province) Cambodia-Laos
• Pra Preng Krian( Dong Kalor )- Dong Nok Khian (Cambodia - Champasack Province)
TOURIST VISA TO LAOSGetting Lao visa is easy and much easier than before. Apart from getting visa of Lao PDR through traditional ways at Embassy or Consulates, travelers of most nationals can obtain Lao visa upon arrival - at International airport of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savanakhet and at various border crossing points with the neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.
There are 2 options to choose from to obtain a visa for Laos
1. Directly on arriving at the international airports of Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
The visa is then valid for 30 days and may be extended for a further 15 days only through a
travel agency in Vientiane. Requested documents:
- The visa request form, available before departure
- 1 photo of less than 6 months
- 31 dollars US in cash (this fee is subject to specific nationality: British: US$ 36, American:
US$ 36, Canadian: US$ 43, Sweden: US$ 32).
Time for delivery: between 10 and 40 minutes depending on the number of people requesting it. Please note that on weekends (Saturdays and Sunday) and Laos’ public holidays, $ 1 is added to the fee.
2. Directly from a Laotian embassy abroad before departure.
The visa is valid for 30 days. Requested documents:
- The visa request form, available before departure.
- 1 photo of less than 6 months
- 31 dollars US in cash (or more depending on the nationality) Your Passport must be valid for six months beyond the intended stay with at least 1 empty page for visa stamp. Refusal of entry to travelers who had less than 6 months validity or no empty page in passport for visa stamp had happened before, so tourist need to check carefully.
Quick visa service on arrival is available at Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse airport but not official and subject to change without prior notice. Quick visa service at land crossing border is rarely available and unofficial. Please contact with your agent in case you have any request.
HIGH LINE OF LAOS
Laos is changing fast, but pockets remain well off-the-beaten-track, ready to be explored by adventure travellers willing to forego the usual tourist luxuries. Those who want to experience a real taste of rural Southeast Asian life will be delighted.
Laos attracts many travellers who consider some others neighbor countries in Southeast Asia now to be over-developed or "touristed out" and are looking for quiet places and less inundated with foreigners.
Charming romantic Luang Prabang town should be considered a must see, with its glittering temples, saffron-robed monks, and sleepy riverine lifestyle. The pace has moved up a notch since the tourists have arrived, as slick cafes jostle for space with chic boutiques showcasing the best Laotian wares: intricate weaving, elaborate silver trinkets and specialty foods.
The bustling capital Vientiane which is growing fast and Vang Vieng with a beautiful nice landscape by limestone crags and riverside scenery remain gorgeous.
The cruise trip on Mekong river from Houei Xay to Luang Prabang via Pakbeng town is a high line of your trip where you have chance to lay down lazily on the desk and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Mekong river or visit some remove ethnic villages.
For the independent traveller, those are just the standard spots to tick off the list, with plenty more to be discovered.
The far northern provinces of Phongsali, Luang Nam Tha and Udomxai offer exciting possibilities for independent trekking. The industry is fledgling and infrastructure is still developing, so trips tend to be challenging but infinitely rewarding. In the mysterious northeastern Plain of Jars and north to Hua Phan, you're in the midst of what was Pathet Lao heartland -- an area that the United States tried to bomb back to the stone age and which, 30 years later, is still trying to get back on its feet.
The far south of Laos is also slowly emerging as a trekking centre. Although many shoot straight down to Si Phan Don, hanging out on Don Khong, Don Dhet and Don Khone for a taste of lazy island life and a spot of dolphin watching. There is a lot to see and experience in between for
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
Laos is tropical and influenced by the monsoons and there are distinct 2 seasons:
- Dry season runs from November to April. November to February are cooler while March and April are blisteringly hot. Dec and Jan are coolest months and April is the hottest month. March and April are smoky in mountain areas due to the farmer burn their farm to prepare the next season crop in rainy season.
- Wet season runs from May to October, though it may start a little early in a couple of Laos' Northern provinces. August is the wettest month.
Generally, the high season corresponds with the dry season. The weather will surely work for your advantage but this nice weather comes with a price and service availability especially guide, hotel… This also means that popular sightseeing destinations will have more tourists and you could find hardly the quiet place And for the low season, this is when the rains start coming in. Rain often comes in short bursts, usually only last about half an hour or one hour at most, it could even be followed by a surprising bright sunshine right afterwards (you are maybe not very lucky for some days especially Aug and Sept). The first advantage for your visit during the rainy season is that you can see the green and lush nature, the river is full of water and waterfall becomes much more impressive than dry season. The second is the price and service availability: the local agent will offer you the best price and the best quality which reach your high request. And for sure, most of sigh seeing will be quiet and sometime, you feel that those sights seem to be private for only you.
So which season is the right one for you? The low or the high season? It is finally up to you!
We have below some suggestions depending on the proposal activities and program that you want to have.
Laos Overland Travel (classic program) is not really depending on climate and weather! As most roads are all weather roads, you can get away from all "major" places. Though forget the hidden valleys and donkey trails in the Lao mountains...that's mud-only in rainy season.
Especially if you travel with rented car you can even enjoy the rainy season in a good way as it Update: Jul 2014 hardly ever rains for really long...it is more the heavy, short blast kind of rain! If your full day is only for city tour, you still can do it easily with a rain coat or umbrella.
Best weather for kayaking in Laos And water activities such as multi-day river travel is great if you have beaches especially if you do camping in Laos. This is possible from October to May! In other months you have to overnight in villages and prepare for high brown water and fast going rivers not without dangers. For day trips this is all fine, but remote rivers we do not recommend to travel in JulySeptember!
Best weather for trekking and others adventurous tour Tourist would prefer some dry weather, or course as trekking and biking in Laos in the dry season is surely great, especially shortly after the rain (e.g. October). But if you want to do it during rainy season, you have your owner reason anyway to enjoy the most green and lushest nature. A good rain protection, good walking shoes or event better, a comfortable boot are necessarily equipped especially you come on August or Sept. In March and April Laos is getting really hot! Be ready with this weather if you come during this time.
INTERNETThe internet is available in most towns/cities in Laos. In Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Pakse and other touristy towns, Wifi service is available and complimentary in most restaurants and hotels.
In other places less frequented by tourists, there might be limit number of places that offer wifi but you can find some internet Cafés where you will be able to be connected for some urgent needs.