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Laos Travel Tips


Social Conventions
Religious beliefs should be respected. Lao people should not be touched on the head. Handshaking is not that usual; Lao people greet each other with their palms together and a slight bowing of the head. Take care when discussing politics and related subjects in conversation so as not to cause offence. Shorts or revealing clothes are not always acceptable. It is a legal requirment to carry an ID document or a passport, and fines for not having one for presentation on demand can be high. The Lao government prohibits sexual relationships, including sexual contact between foreign citizens and Lao nationals, except when the two parties have been married in accordance with Lao family law. Penalties for failing to register a relationship range from fines to imprisonment.

Travel by air is the most convenient means transportation within Laos. Laos Aviation flies daily from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Pakse and Oudomsay. Furthermore, there are several flights a week to Laung Namtha,Sayabori, Houeixay, Sam Neua, Saravane, Lakxao, Muangkhong and attapue. The latest information aboat flight schedules and routes is avaible at the Laos viation Head office in 2 Phangkham road, Vientiane,


Laos has 18,135 km national road, 2,55km of which are paved. The most importance road is route No 13 linking, which runs north south from China to Cambodia. It links Pak Mong in north with Hlong in the south passing though major urban areas of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassack. Accept that, there are the road No.1 linked between Thailand and China, No.8 and No.9 lined between Thailand and Vietnam.

The Mekong River flows though 1,865 km of Laos. Although not navigable in its entirety, it provides a natural means of transportation over long stretches. In addition many tributary rivers of the Mekong River such as the Nam ou, Nam Ngum, Se Don, and others river are used for water transportation.

Climate and Clothing

Light-weight washable cotton or cotton-blent clothes are suitable. A sweater or coat is needed for the winter and in upland areas. 

Customs and Immigration

A valid transit, tourist visit, business, diplomatic, or service visa is required. All foreigners may enter and depart Laos via Wattay Airport, or Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, the Mekong border crossing with Nongkai, Thailand.

A visa can now be obtained upon arrival at the airport and other official entry points. However, certain regulations are applied. 


Medical and dental facilities are mostly operated by the government. Private clinics and pharmacies are available in the major cities. The International Clinic is operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, to accommodate foreigners and diplomats. Medicines from France, USA, Russia, Thailand and China are widely available in most pharmacies. 


International telephone, fax, telegraph and telex services are available at post offices, hotels and business centers. Mobile phones are widely used.

Several radio stations broadcast in Lao. The Lao National Radio carries news in English, French and Thai. There are daily TV broadcasts, with two local channels, Thai television and satellite reception. 


Public transportation is by bus, taxi and samlo (rickshaw). There are both metered and unmetered taxi. No railroad is available in Laos. Lao Aviation, Thai Airways International, Cambodia and Vietnam Airlines connect Wattay Airport of Vientiane to Bangkok, Yangon, Hanoi, Hochiminh City, Phnompenh and Kunming of China. Domestic flights shuttle daily between Lao cities. Mittaphab Bridge across the Mekong to Thailand opened in early 1994.



Local currency is called Kip. One USD is worth approximately 2,450 kip (1998). Money can be exchanged at banks, authorized shops, or hotels. Exchange rates fluctuate everyday, though fluctuation is tiny.



Banque pour le Commerce Exterier Lao, Sethathirath Bank, Nakornluang Bank, Joint Development Bank, and Thai branch banks.

Traveler’s Checks and credit cards can be used at major banks, some hotels, restaurants and shops.


220 volts at 50 HZ

Major Events and Traditional Festivals

1 January New Year
13-15 April Lao New Year (Pimai)
1 May International Labor Day
End of May Rocket Festival
Mid-October End of Buddhist Lent & Boat Races
Beginning of November That Luang Festival
2 December Lao’s National Day.


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