Laos

 

Overview

The country’s officially called the Lao People's Democratic Republic, bordered by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Lao PDR is a landlocked country and covered by high mountainous ranges but crises-crossed by many rivers and stream. For centuries, it has been widely known by outsiders as the land of a million Elephants. The capital and largest city of Laos is Vientiane and other major cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse.

General Information

Official name: Lao People's Democratic Republic
Capital: Vientiane
Population: ~6.5 million people
Total Area: 236.800 square kilometers
Major religion: Buddhism
Monetary unit: Lao Kip
International dialing code: +856
Time Zone - Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +7 hours

Climate/Weather

The country is hot and humid most of the year. Lao PDR has two distinct seasons– the rainy and dry season. The rainy season runs from May to November and the dry season continues from December to April. In which the weather is often cooler and lesser humidity from end of October to February with average temperature might drop to 12OC  or 14OC; while From March to June, the temperature could be up to 41OC. April is the hottest month.

Language

The national language is Lao, which is closely related to Thai and is spoken in many different dialects. Lao,like Thai, is a tonal language. However only slightly more than half of the population can speak Lao, the remainder speaking various ethnic minority languages, particularly in rural areas. French is still spoken by many educated members of the older generation but Thai and English are popular with younger people.

Food

Lao food differs from neighboring cuisines in multiple respects. One is that the Lao meal almost always includes a large quantity of fresh raw greens, vegetables and herbs served undressed on the side. Another is that savory dishes are never sweet. "Sweet and sour" is generally considered bizarre and foreign in Laos. Yet another is that some dishes are bitter. There is a saying in Lao cuisine that “sweet makes you dizzy; bitter makes you healthy."

The staple food of the Lao is steamed sticky rice, which is eaten by hand. In fact, the Lao eat more sticky rice than any other people in the world.The most famous Lao dish is Larb, a spicy mixture of marinated meat and/or fish that is sometimes raw with a variable combination of herbs, greens, and spices. Another Lao dish is a spicy green Papaya salad dish known as tam mak hoong or more famously known to the West as som tam.

A French legacy is still evident in the capital city, Vientiane. Spicy meat salads, sticky rice, noodles, curries and fish tempt right alongside culinary remnants of French colonial occupation. Crunchy baguettes stuffed with pate and salads are standard market fare, while upper-end French restaurants offer delights at astounding prices. And of course, ice-cold Beerlao -- considered Asia's best by some -- is stocked right across the nation.

Currency/ Money

Lao currency is called kip (LAK). Lao Kip; US Dollars and Thai Baht are widely accepted in the main cities. The exchange rate is around 8,000 LAK to 1 USD , and around 10,900 LAK to 1 EUR. Kip is a non-convertible currency, meaning once you have left Laos, it's useful only as souvenir or wallpaper. Banks outside Laos will not accept nor exchange kip. International access ATMs dispensing US dollars can be found in most major tourist centres across the country.

Public Holiday

Laos’ main holidays are based around the Buddhist calendar and will cause little disruption to travel plans. Lao New Year (Songkran) – Also known as Pii Mai, is one of the busiest festivals in Laos. On the last day of the year, people clean up their homes and prepare festival effects like water, perfume and flowers. On this day, young people respectfully bless their elders with water, and then sprinkle monks with water for lifelong blessings, and finally, douse each other with water in the tradition of Thailand’s more popular Songkran. Water is also used by the elderly to bathe the Buddhas and clean homes. As of late, Laotians have started using whipped cream (and even shaving cream) or anything perfumed to throw at each other during the Lao New Year. Some other festivals are Boat Racing, Laos National Day...During these days, you  may see some restaurants and businesses close, but are colorful times to visitand experience Lao culture.

-   Laos New Year : 14 - 16 April 2014
-   Boat Racing : Mid August 2014 (To be advised)
-   Laos National Day : 2 December, 2014

Visa

Foreign tourists can optain for 30 days visa at any Laotian Embassy or on arrival at most overland crossings between Thailand and Laos, including the Huay Xai, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Tha Khaek and Chong Mek entry points. It is also available at both Vientiane and Luang Prabang airports (US$ cash only and one passport photo). Passports must be valid for at least 6 months.
All tourist visas are single-entry only. The visa sticker for visas issued from an embassy are full page, so bear that in mind if you do not have many pages left in your passport.
If you get your visa beforehand from a Lao embassy, it should be valid for 30 days, but be wary of being stamped in for 15 days instead.
Extending a tourist visa is straightforward and can be arranged at the immigration office in Vientiane.

(VIP airport pick up service is available. Please contact us for requirement.)

 

Laos Sight-seeings

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  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • The capital of the province, Luang Nam Tha is a quiet, ordered town where a grid pattern of streets reveals ever-so-quietly humming businesses and residences. It’s a lovely spot to chill out for a couple of days before or after a trek into the Nam Ha NPA. The town is surrounded by a patchwork of rich rice paddies and ethnically diverse villages, and exploring them would be a highlight of a trip to the area. It’s also a transport hub for buses from all directions, including China, and consequently attracts a transient population of traders and travellers, all of whom add to the melting pot.

    The original town, which was always prone to flooding, was virtually destroyed during the Second Indochina War, and the administrative centre was consequently moved 7km north in 1976. The newer town centre sits on higher ground, and is close to where the highways come in from Muang Sing, Boten and Udomxai. Most visitors spend their limited time around the main street of this northern district, but the older southern district is mostly residential and, in general, much more interesting. Locals often refer to the southern centre as meuang (city-state) and to the northern centre as khwǎeng (province).

  • It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most amazing places in Laos. Attractions include dozens of historic Buddhist temples (wats), French-era houses and lots of opportunity for active travel. You can hike up Phousi (a steep hill with wonderful views over the town), and visit the wats, many of which are 400-500 years old. Another impressive sight is the former Royal Palace – it’s now a museum. This is where the last kings of Laos lived – and it’s very art deco. Make sure to take a boat to the Pak Ou Caves. They contain about 3,000 wooden and other Buddha images. The boats often stop at hill tribe villages along the way so you can buy handicrafts and sample the local liquor.  

    This old town is the perfect place to see one of the most sacred Lao traditions, the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. The idea of the alms giving is for the Buddhist monks to make merit and also to collect food for their one meal of a day. The ceremony takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets. You should buy your offerings (usually food) in advance and arrive with plenty of time to spare as it’s considered very offensive to disrupt the ceremony once it has commenced.

     

     

     

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

  • Laos Tours

    Far East Travel provides best travel deals for your vacation. You can choose to travel at various levels of comfort, staying in anything from deluxe to budget accommodation, using various forms of transportation, and dining in authentic and international restaurants or in more local style eateries. Take your pick of our offered tour packages and contact us today for proposal or to customize your own tour.

    Customised tours?
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    Laos