So you are planning a tour to Laos but have some questions to be answered? Here I put together some of the most asked questions about Laos travel and the answers from our specialists.
1. Is it safe to travel to Laos?
Laos is largely a safe country with thousands of tourists enjoying trouble-free holidays there every year. While there are some off-limits areas, which contain unexploded bombs left over from warfare. Respecting these boundaries is crucial to protect you from the potential bombs.
In any destinations in the world, tourists are usually looked on as easy targets for theft, bag snatching and other petty crimes. And in Laos, it is no different. So it is wise to take usual precautions to protect your belongings and personal safety.
- Take a camera strap and a money belt (or small bag) to carry your money, passport and valuables with you, and don’t leave any valuables in your hotel room.
- Remain vigilant around your belongings, especially in crowded areas.
- Always choose well-lit paths and streets, especially when you travel alone or at night.
A quiet street in Luang Prabang
2. Do I need a visa to travel to Laos?
If you are a citizen of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, South Korea, Russia and Switzerland, you can travel to Laos visa-free. Other nationalities are required to obtain a tourist visa.
Currently, tourist visa on arrival is available to citizens of most countries, including the US, the UK, the EU, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It can be obtained at all international airports and most international border crossings in Laos, and generally permit a stay of 30 days. To obtain it, you need a passport with at least six months validity remaining from the date of entry and at least two blank visa pages, one passport-sized photo, the name of a hotel, and the visa fee of USD 30 to USD 42 in cash depending on your nationality.
Note: Visa requirements may change from time to time, so it is advisable to consult the Lao Embassy for the up-to-date information.
3. What's the weather like in Laos?
Laos is belonging to tropical and subtropical monsoon climate, specifically, it is tropical in the plains, and subtropical in the mountains and the far north. It's also governed by the monsoons: the winter monsoon from November to April when the weather is good and cool; and the summer monsoon from May to October when the weather is rainy. So Laos has two distinct weather seasons: a dry season (or cool season, from November to April) and a wet season (or hot season, from May to late October).
During the dry season, the temperatures are usually no higher than 30 °C, and cool enough in the evenings when you may need long sleeves or a light jacket. It doesn't rain much at this time.
During the wet season, the weather is hot with temperatures reaching 35 °C and above, and has thunderstorm in the afternoon or at dusk. The hottest weather is typically in May and June, and the heaviest rainfall is generally in August and September, especially in the southern part of Laos.
You can expect good weather during the dry season.
4. When is the best time to visit Laos?
As for the best time to visit, it depends. If you want the best weather, visit Laos during the dry season, especially from November to February which is the coolest part of this season. However, as the dry season is the best time to visit, these are also more travelers, it may be crowded and the prices may rise. It is advisable to plan ahead and make reservations in advance.
If you'd like to visit Laos at a quieter time, the wet season is considerable. Thought it rains heavily, it usually lasts for an hour or two a day. Then you’ll find everything is greener after the sun comes out.
5. What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
The local currency in Laos is the Lao Kip (LAK); and USD 1 is equivalent to 8,482.85 kip (as of 30 August 2018). LAK is used for most transactions, but US dollars and Thai Baht are also acceptable in popular tourist cities and towns, such as Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Generally LAK is expected for smaller purchases, and dollars or baht for more expensive purchases.
It's easy to exchange US Dollars or Thai Baht in Laos. So we recommend exchanging the amount you need when you are in Laos.
Credit cards are also acceptable in airports, major hotels and shopping malls, etc.
6. Can I connect Wi-Fi in Laos?
Free Wi-Fi is available in many hotels and cafes in the main tourist destinations in Laos.
7. What are the best souvenirs to buy in Laos?
Recommended souvenirs to buy in Laos are:
- Phaa sin, a traditional wraparound skirt available in many regional patterns in most markets and small shops around the country. You can find it is worn by many Lao women from school students to government officials.
- Silk products and textiles woven by bare hands using wild silk and intricately dyed. They feature creative models and high-quality craftsmanship and are available in various types like clothes, bed sheets, blankets and table-cover.
- Coffee. Laos is known as the best place in Southeast Asia to plan coffee because of the favorable weather and idea terrain, such as the Bolevan Plateau. You can buy both Robusta and sweeter Arabica beans in most shops with affordable price.
- Silver or gold jewelry, such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets and belt. They are made by hand with traditional tools and ancient methods.
- Bamboo wares like bowls, vases, chairs, baskets and other household wares.
- Paintings made by local artists.
- Carvings made in wood, stone and bone with various styles and shades.
Wood carvings can be easily found in the street.
If your questions are not answered, please don't hesitate to contact us at at any time. If you need any advice on Laos travel, our knowledgeable travel consultants are happy to help.