This post will be all about Laos travel tips and all the cool facts about Laos and things to know before visiting Laos. From first timers to seasoned travelers, this post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Laos and what awaits you from amazing nature, waterfalls great people and culture to delicious food to try in Laos.
Laos is famous for its mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. These are the main reason why tourist visit the country and not only to know their culture but to also see the scenery Laos has to offer.
Laos Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Laos For First Timers
1. IS IT SAFE LAOS?
Is it safe travel to Laos? Yeah you should know that Laos is one of the safest countries in the world. If you travel to Laos, safety won’t be a problem. You can feel safe everywhere, literally. Make sure that you keep your valuables with you in crowded places and that should be more than enough.
2. VISA IN LAOS IS PAID ON ARRIVAL
If you are from a Western country you will need to pay for a visa to enter Laos. you can get visa on arrival if you are coming from Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. And the prices are around $35-45 USD. There are 19 countries which can get free visa to visit Laos. You can check this list if you want to know if you are one of the participating country or you will have to apply for a visa.
3. CASH IS THE KING AND ATMS IN LAOS
Cash is the King in Laos for sure and credit cards are accepted in mid budget hotels and fancy restaurants. The currency of Laos is called kip and this is the one you will use while traveling the country. The rate is around $1= 8000 LAK or Kips. You will find ATM’s all throughout the country. There are also available exchange shop through banks and in some famous tourist place.
4. BEST TIME TO VISIT LAOS
Laos have the wet and dry season. The start of wet season is from May up to October. And July and August is the months where rain is falling hard. In my experience as a backpacker the best time to visit Laos is through the Months of November to February.
5. HEALTH TRAVEL INSURANCE
Things to know before visiting Laos we recommend always to bring a travel insurance when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems. You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease.
Just make sure you are ready since it can be really expensive if you get a big surgery or problem in Laos. You can check ours in this link where you can get covered starting from $40 USD per month.
FACTS ABOUT LAOS
6. LAOS IS SO CHEAP
If you have been traveling around Southeast Asia Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are so cheap and Laos has similar affordable prices. Especially for accommodation where is easy to find a room for less than $20 USD, alcohol is cheap and prices for food and transportation are so affordable. Keep reading below!
ACCOMMODATION BUDGET TRAVEL IN LAOS
You can get accommodation in Laos guest houses as low as $12 USD, the room has aircon, fan, TV and also has a free WiFi. There are dorms where you can sleep for $5-6 USD and you get a nice hotel starting for $20-30 USD in Laos.
If you want to sign up for Airbnb, we give you $30 USD credit with your first booking!
FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL IN LAOS
You will find street food everywhere in Laos. You can get meals in local restaurants for $2-3 USD even cheaper if you go for street food. You can buy a breakfast for $2 USD. From noodle soup to sandwich and sticky rice in Laos. You can find a Lao Beer for around $2 USD per bottle.
TOUR/ENTRANCE FEES IN LAOS
There are not many entrance fees in Laos, you will find places that they charge. Prices are $3-4 USD for the entrance to magical places like Kuangsi waterfalls in Luang Prabang area. Buddha Park entrance cost less than $1 USD.
7. WI-FI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN LAOS
Internet in Laos works really weak and you will have many problems to connect every time except in touristic places where it will be better like Vientiane and Luang Prabang. You can access free WiFi at hostels and hotels and there are lots of restaurant that are offering free WiFi.
We advise in our Laos travel tips that you get a sim card in Laos if you need to catch up with some work online. Check this to get your prepaid sim card in Laos with klook!
8. ADAPTER IN LAOS
In our Laos travel tips you should know they use 230 V and frequency 50Hz. A few places make it possible to fit your American and European adapter in the plug because they provide adapters. If you are coming from American and European countries, we recommend you to bring an adapter to be able to charge everywhere.
9. LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IN LAOS
There are many local transportation in Laos. You can ride the bus for as low as $1 USD inside the cities like Vientiane. There are many taxis to move around for $2-3 USD in Laos. You can also ride a tuk tuk prices are around $1 USD for 1 kilometer. For long distance buses expect to pay around $12-15 USD for a night bus.
10. LAOS BORDER CROSSING
Easy border crossing to Laos from Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. The borders are opened and the most popular one is Chiang Khong in Thailand where you can get a bus or the popular slow boat to Luang Prabang. You can make the visa on arrival in Laos border just be patient!
11. HITCHHIKING IN LAOS
Hitchhiking in Laos is hard based in my own personal experience. For short distances, it was easy and successful. For long distance hitchhiking in Laos was pretty hard and I had to take local buses sometimes combining with short hitchhikes to reach the places.
12. LAOS IS A COMUNIST COUNTRY
Laos is officially one of the communist countries over the world. Laos is one of the remaining countries with communist government like China, Cuba and Vietnam.
13. ALMS GIVING TO THE MONKS
Alms giving to the monks is a ceremony that you can’t miss in Laos. You can see this ceremony daily in Luang Prabang at sunrise time and you can see how people offering food to the monks. It became a tourist attraction because visitors are encouraged here to be involved and to witness the long lines of monks passing.
14. LAOS IS A BUDDHIST COUNTRY
Laos is a Buddhist country. Around 70-80 % of the population in Laos are Buddhist. You can find thousands of temples in Laos. Don’t miss the opportunity to know and understand Buddhism and to even talk to the monks. Enjoy the visit to the temples in Laos and make sure you dress properly to respect them.
15. LAOTIAN PEOPLE DONT SPEAK ENGLISH
Laotian people don’t speak English. You can find a few of them in touristic areas that speak English. Little by little teenagers are speaking English and they will love to practice with you. Make sure you try to learn a few words in Laotian language as hello and thanks to communicate with them.
16. LAOTIANS ARE VERY FRIENDLY
Laotians are very friendly and they are smiling and willing to talk to you. The best way to know more about Laos is meeting locals. Try to talk to a local every time, even when there is a language barrier. The best ways to meet locals: staying in a guest house with a Laotian family. Also getting local transportation like bus or try hitchhiking where you will always meet new Laotian friends.
17. DRESS PROPERLY IN LAOS
Dress properly in Laos covering your shoulders and if you can wear pants covering your knees too. Laotian people are very religious and it’s not the same like neighbor countries like Thailand and the Philippines where they don’t care as much as they do in Laos.
18. VISITING TEMPLES IN LAOS
Visiting temples in Laos is a must since they are Buddhist to learn about their religion. Make sure you take your shoes off and leave outside. Dressing properly as we mentioned above and follow what locals do in the temples.
19. French Influence in Laos
There is French influence in Laos from 19th century where French explorers came to Laos. You will find a few locals that can speak French. Playing games like Petanque and eating baguette bread or crepes also popular in France for breakfast. In Vientiane you will see a French influence in the buildings too.
20. ENJOY MEKONG RIVER
Enjoy the Mekong River while visiting Laos. For the sunrise, for the sunset or just walking around. Mekong River is the perfect place for relaxing since is so peaceful. Mekong River is considered as one of the world’s longest river at 4,350 kilometers and you can go down with the slow boat from Thailand even tubbing in Vang Vieng.
21. VISIT LOCAL MARKETS IN LAOS
I enjoyed visiting local markets in Laos. You will find the best food and you will learn about how the real Laotian life is. They spend many hours working and they will always attend to you with a big smile. Prices in the street markets are really cheap and you can get a delicious meal for $1-2 USD.
FACTS ABOUT LAOS FOOD
Laotian food is tasty and prices were incredibly cheap. You can taste similar food like in Thailand and there are French influence like bread and croissants. You can keep easy eating in Laos in a daily budget of $10 USD per day in food and even including beers in your budget.
22. LAO LAO SANDWICH
Lao sandwich was my favorite food in Laos since it’s really difficult to find bread in Asia. Laos was French colony and there are baguette in Laos. Prices are starting from $1-2 USD.
23. LAO NOODLE SOUP
Lao noodle soup you can find everywhere in Laos when you go to local restaurants. You can get it less spicy or spicier, depending on your personal preference. Prices are starting from $1-2 USD.
24. Larb Meat Salad
Larb meat salad is one of the most popular dishes to try in Laos. Larb meat salad is cooked with pork, chicken, beef and fish. The Larb meat is mixed with vegetables and it can be little spicy. Prices are around $2-3 USD in local restaurants and you can also find in Thailand.
25. Papaya Salad
Papaya salad is one of the most popular dishes to try in Laos. Papaya salad is served with hot chili, sour lime, tomatoes, papaya and its very, very tasty. Facts about Laos is definitely a must-try!
26. Sticky Rice
Sticky rice is a traditional Laotian food. Sticky rice is served in a small basket. You can eat it, and partner it with other food or different kinds of sauces. Prices start from less than half of USD.
27. LAO LAO
Lao Lao is a strong liquor. You can find locals drinking it and they will offer it to you to taste. Be careful because Lao Lao is really strong and if you drink a lot, you will have a huge hangover next day.
28. LAO BEER
Lao Beer i’s my favorite beer in Southeast Asia. It tastes really good and prices are start from $1-2 USD.
29. FRUITS AND FRUIT SHAKES
There are many fruits in Laos. You will find dragon fruits, mangoes, papayas, bananas. All of them taste great and offered in very affordable prices. There are fruit shakes of many flavors and prices are starting from $1-2 USD.
Festivals in Laos
30. Boun Pi Mai (Lao New Year)
In mid-April, Laos celebrates the Boun Pi Mai Lao which is similar to Songkran Festival in Thailand. Boun Pi Mai is one of the most famous festivals in Laos with all the street parties and water fights. Apart from throwing water they will give offerings and everything is so colorful.
31. Boun Bung Fai (Lao Rocket Festival)
Boun Bung Fai also called Lao Rocket Festival is celebrated in May at the end of the dry season to call to the rain. Boun Bung Fai is especially celebrated in small villages launching homemade rockets. People will be eating and drinking and it will be amazing if you can join to them.
More Laos Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Laos For First Timers
Places To Visit
32. LUANG PRABANG
Luang Prabang is the most touristic place in Laos. Luang Prabang is a very quiet place and gets most of the attention for the things to do in Laos. You can visit Kuang Si waterfalls for splashing visit. Also, you can go for a walk around Mekong River.
In the morning, you can see the ritual of alms giving to the monks. You will meet hundreds of people in Luang Prabang, and you can party and enjoy the night market in Luang Prabang.
33. KWANG SI FALLS
Kwang Si waterfalls is just half an hour sharing a tuk tuk ride from Luang Prabang. Kwang Si waterfalls is amazing and you won´t get tired to take pictures or even take a bath there. They also have ropes where you can swing and a tree where you can jump off into the pools from. So, soak yourself in some series of pool and vibrant blue waters!
Vientiane is the capital of Laos but is a quiet place. You can walk around the city, enjoy the night market and go for the sunset in Mekong River. There are lots of things to see in Vientian like Wat Si Muang, a Buddhist temple or you can go outside the city to visit Buddha Park, a Laos sculpture park.
35. BUDDHA PARK
Buddha Park is a sculpture park 25 kilometers away from Vientiane. The entrance fee is around $1 USD for the entrance and for transportation if you go by local bus from Vientiane city center. You can get the bus in the public market.
Buddha Park is a popular sculpture park with a collection of hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu statues including a huge 40-meter high reclining Buddha image.
36. VANG VIENG BLUE LAGOON
Vang Vieng is the most popular party place in Laos. You can go for Tubing in the Nam Song river where you can find bars selling bucket of drinks. You can have lot of adventures there since they have activities like rope swings and zip-lines, actually cheap for an unforgettable experience.
You can visit Tham Phu Kham cave where you can find a large bronze reclining Buddha. Also, Blue Lagoon a pool with crystalline water. You could also try The Hot Air Balloon for a more unforgettable experience.
37. 4 000 ISLANDS
4,000 Islands is the perfect place for reading a book while lying down in the hammock. There are bars and restaurants to go around to during the day and night. You will get amazing sunsets in 4,000 Islands every single day. Don Det and Don Khon are the most visited islands which are connected by a bridge, means you can ride a bicycle across two whole islands.
Champasak was part of the Khmer Empire. You can go to Champasak to visit the ruins of Wat Phou, a temple built in Khmer style. If you are sleeping in Champasak town you can rent a bicycle. It’s half an hour riding to the temple. Champasak is similar to Angkor Wat, but it’s a smaller temple. The entrance to the park costs 50.000 Kip ($6 USD).
Pakse is an off-the-beaten-place to visit in Laos. Pakse is very quiet at night but you can go around the market during the day. You will see real Laotian life – like how busy it can be despite the usual quiet that surrounds a lot of places in the country. Pakse is the perfect place for relaxing before going South to Champasak or 4000 Islands
Thakhek is the place for sightseeing caves and trekking. Trekking in Thakhek is a must because you’ll enjoy the place riding a motorbike visiting a few towns and places like waterfalls.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAOS
A travel budget of $20-25 USD would be enough in a day to travel and experience Laos. You can spend $5-15 USD for accommodation depending on your likes there are a lot of cheap budget hotel available for you. And you can also sleep in a dorm or a guest house if you are in a low budget.
If you want to sign up for Airbnb, we give you $30 USD credit with your first booking!
Having insurance while you are traveling outside your home country is very important. Make sure that you have one too, to keep you safe in your trips around the world.
Hope you liked our Laos travel tips. Let us know if we missed things to know before visiting Laos and facts about Laos in the comments below.
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