Laos Travel Guide

Laos FAQ

What do I need to do before travelling?

We suggest that all our customers review foreign office advice for Laos before travelling. Click here for the latest information from the foreign office.

What are the visa requirements?

Laos issues 30-day tourist visas on arrival at all international airports and land borders. For land borders, visas are currently available at all border crossings shared with Thailand and Cambodia, but not at all land borders shared with Vietnam. Visas on arrival cost US$30 to US$47 in US dollars, depending on nationality, plus two passport-sized photographs.

What is the language of Laos?

The national language of Laos is Lao, as spoken and written in the capital Vientiane. Thai and Lao are mutually intelligible, although the script is different. English is the first language among young students, while French is spoken by some of the older generation

What is the currency in Laos?

The Kip is the used as the official currency of Laos, but US dollars and Thai Baht are widely accepted. The use of credit cards is still not widespread in Laos. Most upscale hotels and some shops and restaurants in Luang Prabang and Vientiane accept VISA and Master Card but in other parts of the country often only cash is accepted. ATMs are still quite a rarity, although most major towns have at least one. Daily cash withdrawal limits are quite low by international standards.

Is Laos safe?

Laos is generally a safe country. Nevertheless and as a global rule, never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain eye contact or a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. In some tourist sites you may encounter some insistent souvenir sellers. A polite but firm "No, thank you" usually will suffice.

What is the cuisine like?

Lao cuisine has many similarities to Thai with lots of aromatic herbs and spices such as lemon grass, chillies, ginger and tamarind used to flavour dishes. Sticky rice, or kao niao, is the main ingredient in Lao cuisine. Freshwater fish is a popular part of most Lao diet. Chicken and pork dishes are also popular but beef is expensive in comparison. Soups served with noodles, bamboo shoots and fresh vegetables can be found everywhere. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food is also widely available, as is a range of western cuisine in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

Beerlao is the national drink and dominates the local market. Lao coffee has an excellent reputation among coffee connoisseurs. Grown on the highlands of the Bolaven Plateau in Southern Laos, it commands some of the world’s highest prices on the global market

Are there any customs or public holidays I should be aware of?

When in Laos, do not photograph or visit military sites as this can result in arrest or detention. Wear appropriate clothing when visiting temples or religious sites, and refrain from photographing monks when they are around temples or in alms giving ceremonies. Shoes should be removed before entering a private home

Will I need to bring an adaptor?

Most sockets found in Laos hotels are French-style two-pin, so it is advisable to bring a universal plug adaptor. 

What evening entertainment can I expect?

There is not much in the way of western style entertainment in Laos but Vientiane and Luang Prabang have good restaurants and quite a few bars and nightclubs. In the rest of the country, entertainment is mainly confined to the hotels and mainly tourist-orientated restaurants.   

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