Laos Travel Guide
Laos is the type of place that can project feelings of being transported into another time, a country as exotic as it is utterly intriguing. With its culturally diverse native tribal groups and varied ethnicities, Laos is the destination for you to encounter unique experiences. Most importantly: Lao cuisine is simply delectable. So, what are you waiting for?
Luang Prabang is home to many glorious Buddhist monasteries and temples. By day, you can get your fill of local Lao delicacies, enjoy the French-influenced cafe culture and visit the many neighbouring waterfalls. And at night, watch as the town comes alive with a night market that takes up residence on the main street. How you spend your time is completely up to you.
If cycling, yoga and gentle to rigorous hikes are your calling, Vang Vieng will cater to your adventurous side. If you’re after a relaxed approach to exploring the area, you can hire a giant rubber tyre to float down the river making stops along the way at cafes or bars. Next: repeat all of the above until the sun goes down.
It’s easy to overlook the populous town of Pakse; the gateway to southern Laos but the most important reasons to visit are the many surrounding attractions. Start with a day trip to Champasak, where the ancient Khmer ruins of Wat Phou reside which are in fact, older than the Angkor temples in Cambodia. Make time for the Don Heung Market in Pakse that is known to be the biggest in southern Laos.
Kong Lor Cave
Possibly one of the most compelling sights in Laos, the Kong Lor Cave situated in the Khammouane Province will reward you with a voyage beneath jagged limestone rock facades and beyond. The cave itself is 4.5 miles long and was carved naturally by the river, meaning visitors can take a cruise alongside emerald pools within the cave.
If we could share only one piece of advice with you: it’s that you need to make time to visit Vientiane. This is where travellers can take a break and just take in the city. From Buddhist temples, the historic old quarter, surrounding rice paddies, museums, old French villas dotted around town and historic cafes are a few of the many reasons why Vientiane will impress you.
Si Phan Don
Si Phan Don translates to Four Thousand Islands where quite literally, thousands of islands make up the archipelago in the Mekong area. And while there isn’t much to do here, it’s the type of place that you visit simply to mingle with locals, explore local guesthouses and cafes or hire a bike along the Mekong River. You might be surprised to find yourself spending more time here than expected.
Laos is a country in Southeast Asia and shares borders with China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia. From Sydney, a non-stop flight is 11 hours, and from Dubai, it is roughly 10 hours.
The capital and largest city is Vientiane and sits near the border of Thailand along the Mekong River. Other major cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse.
Wattay International Airport is the main hub for international and domestic travel. It is located 3 km outside of the city centre of its capital, Vientiane.
- Closest City
The official language of Laos is Lao, however, English is commonly spoken across the country. In areas that are further away from major cities, fluent speakers may be harder to come by.
Laos uses the Laos Kip. The currency code is LAK. It is safe to withdraw money from banks or ATMs while you’re there, however, the withdrawal limit is quite low (under $100 USD).
30-day visas can be obtained on arrival at most entry points into Laos. Visa information can change often and varies from country to country. We recommend checking your country's travel advisories in advance of booking a trip.
Electrical current is s 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. In Laos the power sockets are of type A, B, C, E and F. The standard voltage in the US is 110 volts, so you may need a surge adaptor.
The usual vaccinations of Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B are advised and you may need to prove you have had a yellow fever vaccination if travelling through infected areas. Consult your doctor 6 to 8 weeks before you depart.
The phone numbers to call in case of emergency are 191 for the police, 195 for an ambulance and 190 for a fire.
When to Visit
FAQs about Laos
Do you tip in Laos?
There isn’t much of a tipping culture in Laos, but it is recommended to leave a tip of 10% in a restaurant, although service charge can already be included on the bill. Of course, it will always be appreciated.
What is the internet access like?
Internet connection can range in quality, but you should have no problem with day-to-day tasks like emailing or surfing the web when in Laos. WiFi is available in many cafes, hostels and hotels for free, but outside urban areas, this is not as common.
Is the tap water safe to drink?
No. Buy bottled water, or you can boil the tap water or use water purification pills.
Can I use my credit cards?
Yes, credit cards are widely accepted throughout Laos. Please check with your bank about any foreign transaction charges.
What are the public holidays?
Laos celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, Lao New Year between April 16-18, Labour Day May 1, That Luang Festival on November 22 and Lao National Day on December 03.
What are the toilets like?
Toilets in Laos range from squat toilets to sit down ones, depending on the type of establishment. Mid-range and luxury accommodations, as well as restaurants and top attractions, favour the modern sit down toilets. Carry your own toilet paper.