The Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Laos is located in the center of Indochina, sharing borders with China to the North 416 kilometers, Myanmar to Northwest 236 kilometers, Thailand to the West 1,835 kilometers, Cambodia to the South 492 kilometers and Vietnam to the East 1,957 kilometers. With a total area of 236,800 square kilometers, around 70% of Laos' terrain is mountainous, reaching a maximum elevation of 2,820 meters in Xieng Khouang Province. The landscapes of northern Laos and the regions adjacent to Vietnam, in particular, are dominated by rough mountains.
The Mekong River is the main geographical feature in the west and, in fact, forms a natural border with Thailand in some areas. The Mekong flows through nearly 1,900 kilometers of Lao territory and shapes much of the lifestyle of the people of Laos. In the South the Mekong reaches a breadth of 20 kilometers, creating an area with thousands of islands.
After decades of war and isolation, this landlocked and peaceful nation welcomes more and more curious visitors each day. Travelers to Laos, a place once known as the Land of a Million Elephants, are able to experience the many cultures and laid back hospitality of a relatively sparse population, whether in the cities or rural villages. Laos has also become a destination for those seeking outdoor fun, as the topography is covered with rivers, mountains, caves, and limestone formations. If you seek adventure, insight into a mystical place, or simply an enjoyable holiday, make Laos your destination.
Before You Go:
Laos Passport and Visa
All nationalities are required to have visa before getting into Laos. Visa is usually delivered by Lao Embassies who require the original passport and 2 photos for two full working days in order to stamp the visa. If Visa is arranged by Jewel Tours upon the client request, the personal data (full name, passport number with date of issuance and expiry, date and place of birth, nationality) must be supplied to us at least 14 days before arrival to Laos. Visas can also be obtained upon arrival in Laos at three places: Wattay Airport in Vientiane, Luang Prabang Airport and at the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge in Vientiane. The visa fee is US$30 per person with the following supporting documents: return air ticket or entry visa to a third country, correspondence or contact with a local person or organization, confirmation letter of reserved accommodation. However, the procedure of getting visa will be changed from time to time.
The regulations are now relaxed for travelers arriving by air at Wattay airport in Vientiane. Passengers should have completed immigration and customs declaration forms during the flights and must submit these on arrival.
The local currency is the KIP. The exchange rate at the time of updating is approximately 9,800 KIP to one US. Dollar. Travelers can make an exchange either at licensed exchange shops in the major cities or at your hotel. While paying in Laos. Traveler cheques and other currencies than U.S Dollars are only accepted by major banks. It is best to carry US Dollar bills in small denominations.
Many ATM can be found in the main towns or Shopping Mall. But in small town, you can find in front of banks or markets. You can withdraw 10 times per day and each amount 700,000 Kip (Equal 80USD). You can withdraw only local currency.
Films can be found in shops in the larger towns, also if you need a digital download service for your digital camera it is also available.
Silk and cotton fabrics, objects made from wood (sculptures, cut-out figures), pottery and traditional instruments are part of the rich tapestry of Laotian craftsmanship.
220 volts, 50 Hz. Power outlets are two-prong round or flat sockets.
Laos can be visited throughout the year. The dry or cool season begins end of October and lasts until end of February. It is necessary to take along a pullover or jacket during the cool season as nights can be very cool, especially in the mountainous areas such as Luang Prabang, the plain of jars, Saravane and Houeixai. The hot season lasts from March to June and light cotton and hats are recommended. The rainy season starts in June and ends in October. For visitors travelling between end of March and beginning of April, please note in the mountainous areas where the slash and burn cultivation remained, the weather may be worse caused by smokes and domestic flights might be delayed or cancelled.
No vaccinations are presently required. If travelling to remote or border areas, travelers should check with their doctor or travel immunization clinic regarding the advisability of inoculation against Typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and Japanese encephalitis.
The direct flights to Vientiane are available from Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, Kunming, Chiang Mai (via Luang Prabang ). By air : Presently, Vientiane is the only legal point of disembarkation in Laos for air passengers. At the present time, Bangkok is the most common gateway for entry to Vientiane, although it is possible to come from Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Yangon, Kunming (CHINA), Chiang Mai, Singapore and Kualalumpur as per schedules show below: Airport arrival : Arrivals at Wattay airport, Vientiane are generally rather casual event. Carry-on bags are not surely inspected if that all you have brought. For checked baggage when claimed at counter ,sometimes passengers are required to declare if they had antiques and silver item brought with.
The other way to get into Laos is by land from Vietnam, China, Thailand. Tourists can pass the border at the following entry points: From Nongkhai (Thailand ) by crossing Mekong River by shuttle bus; From Chiangkhong (Thailand) by crossing Mekong River by ferry to Houeixey; From Southern China (Yuna ) to Luang Namtha province via Boten check point. From Mukdahan (Thailand ) and from Quang Tri (Vietnam ) to Savanakhet; From Ubol Rachathani (Thailand ) to Pasker; From Vinh (Vietnam) via Keo Neua check point to Km 20 , Khamkeuth district Borikhamxay province, then on to Vientiane by bus.
The official language of Lao RPD is Lao. It is spoken in different parts of the country. The Vientiane dialect is understood throughout the country. In spite of the colonial past, French remains the second official language. English is in common use among business sectors and young generations.
January 1 : International New Years Day
Mar 8 : International Women Day
May 1 : Labour Day
Oct 14 : Boat Racing Festival in Vientiane
Dec 2 : Laos National Day
Tipping is not obligatory in Laos, but is nonetheless widely practiced in hotels and restaurants in addition to the service charges shown on bills. (Porters, 500 - 1,000 Kip per bag.)
Airport tax is US$ 1,0 per passenger on domestic flights and US$ 10 per passenger on international flights.
Laos time is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It lies in the same time zone as its neighbors Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Airtickets : check your departure times and date. Where possible buy e-tickets it saves you time when you inadvertently lose the document you can always pull out a copy from the computer or provide the ticket number. Paper tickets are more likely to get lost and end up having to wait for months to claim the lost ticket. Make sure you save a copy of your e-ticket in your traveling email.
Call your credit card company to inform them you will be traveling overseas and name of countries that the card will charged and the period that you will be using the card overseas to avoid identity theft and inconvenience that your card gets blocked when you travel.
Check your visa documents and passport size photos if you need them to get visa on arrival.
Make copies of your passport and visas scan it and send it to your traveling email in case your passport is lost or visas lost you can contact the proper authorities to provide those copies.
Make sure you have your health/accidental /emergency evacuation insurance. Most important is health /accident coverage. Make sure that the coverage will pay for you while you are in the hospital or need assistance in the country you are traveling. Costs are covered and not require you to pay first and claim later. From our experience insurance underwritten by AIG in the US and Lloyds of London in Europe has come through for our clients in times of emergencies with little inconvenience.
Check with your mobile phone carrier if they have roaming coverage in the countries you are traveling. Make sure your phone is compatible to receive or make calls in the country you will be traveling. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a local sim card in the country of arrival and put it in your phone to use locally. But it’s always good to have a back up to have your phone roaming coverage.
Make sure you have enough passport pages in your passport. Usually try to have at least 2 pages in your passport for each country you will be visiting (not transiting at the airports). This is if you will get your visa on arrival at the country you are visiting.
Make sure you have your travel agent’s mobile phone number in your phone or where you can access information in case of an emergency.
shorts that are not too revealing
light-weight, long-sleeved tops
light jacket that is wind and rain-resistant
good shoes with treads
Slip-on shoes for ease of taking your shoes on and off when visiting pagodas, houses and other places where footwear is inappropriate.
1 or 2 sets of going out clothes for the cities – Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City and Phuket. S.E Asia are casual dressed countries no suit and ties are required for dinner.
In winter, you’ll need a warm coat for mountainous areas
Toiletries & Medication
While imported beauty products are readily available in major cities.
contact lens solution