Laos Travel Guide
Laos is a country located in Asia with name that begins with letter L. The population density of Laos is the lowest in Asia. Only around 6.5 million people live in the country, which is roughly three times the size of Austria. Only a narrow strip along the Mekong on the border with Thailand and Myanmar is fertile lowland, where rice, yams, peanuts and bananas are mainly grown. The remaining 90 percent of the state’s area is mountainous. There are large coffee and tea plantations here, especially on the plateau on the border with Cambodia. Check Countryaah to find more countries that begin with letter L.
Entry and visa
You need a passport to enter the country, which must be valid for at least 6 months upon departure. Austrian and German citizens also need a visa to enter the country. Swiss citizens do not need a visa for a stay of less than 15 days in the country. The easiest way is to apply for the visa directly upon arrival at the international airports (Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Pakse) or border crossings.
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with the rainy season from May to September. The temperatures are then mostly around 30 – 35 degrees Celsius, with high humidity. From October to April it is dry with daytime temperatures of around 25-30 degrees Celsius in the lowlands and around 15-25 degrees Celsius in the mountain regions.
Food and drink
Rice is the Lao staple food. More than 4,000 different varieties are grown. There are also fresh vegetables, pork or beef and fish from the Mekong. Soups are also very popular, for example the noodle soup “Khao Piak Sen”, which is often enjoyed for breakfast, or the “Khao Poon Nam Jeow” made from offal, bamboo shoots and papaya. Green tea and the rice schnapps “Laolao” are mostly drunk.
Restraint is the key: patting someone on the shoulder or touching their head. is just as frowned upon as the public exchange of tenderness, screams or wild gestures.
No vaccinations are mandatory to enter Laos. It is recommended that you contact your general practitioner or another suitable facility about 8 weeks before you travel to find out about recommended vaccinations. It is therefore strongly recommended that you take a first-aid kit with you that not only contains medicines you need regularly, but also medicines for common travel illnesses.
Climate and travel time
In Laos and Cambodia there are no seasons in the true sense, only a change between rainy and dry seasons. Monsoon climate with a hot and humid rainy season is predominant from June to October. November to March are characterized by fairly dry weather with moderate heat. The hottest months are April and May. In Laos, however, there are large regional fluctuations in temperature and precipitation due to the large differences in altitude in the country.
All about money
Lao Kip (LAK), 1 EUR = approx. 10,000 LAK (as of Sep 18)
The official currency in Laos is the Laotian Kip (LAK), but in many parts of the country you can also pay in US dollars. The Thai baht can also be used as a means of payment near the Thai border. It is forbidden to import the local currency, and there is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that you may bring with you. Amounts from USD 10,000 must be declared. It is advisable to bring US dollars, euros or Thai baht in cash (if possible in small denominations) or credit cards – these are only accepted in larger restaurants and hotels. At most ATMs, cash can be withdrawn with a credit card, in some cases with an EC or Maestro card.
The official currency in Cambodia is the Riel (KHR), but in many parts of the country you can also pay in US dollars. It is advisable to bring US dollars in cash (in small denominations if possible) and / or credit cards. Credit cards are usually only accepted in the larger hotels and restaurants. Cash withdrawals using EC or credit cards are possible at banks and Western Union agencies in tourist centers. The import / export of foreign currency from USD 10,000 must be declared.
Tipping in Laos and Cambodia
In restaurants and bars in tourist regions, around 10% of the total bill is expected as a tip. In rural areas, tips are not expected, but certainly appreciated. It is common, but not mandatory, to tip the guide and driver at the end of a tour for good service. Appropriate payment for our local guides and partner agencies is part of our sustainability guidelines. Therefore, please be aware that tips do not replace wages. It is therefore not an absolute must, but an (expected) recognition for good service.
Other essential information
Time difference Laos and Cambodia:
time difference to CET + 6 hours, time difference to CEST + 5 hours
The voltage in Laos and Cambodia is 220/230 volts / 50 Hertz. Different sockets are used, so it is advisable to take a travel plug set with you.