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Home >> Laos >> Laos Travel Tips

Laos Travel Tips

The Lao are very friendly and hospitable and a minimum effort will make your trip smooth and memorable, yet some attention should be also paid to ensure you a pleasant stay in the country.

 

Do in Laos as the Lao Do

Show respect and use your head and heart will guide you well in navigating Lao culture safely.

When in Laos, please remember: don't touch heads, don't point at people or things with feet, don't loose your cool with people and don't flash your flesh. The rest is about manners, shoes left outside, accepting hosts’ greetings and not upsetting religious feelings.

 

There is also some useful information below to help you know more about Laos.

Currency

Lao Kip (LAK) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of LAK50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. Most transactions are conducted in cash like American Dollars, Thai Baht or Lao Kip.

 

Health & Fitness

Travelers to Laos should take care with their health and safety since medical facilities are sparse in Laos. For serious medical conditions, a transfer to Bangkokis needed. If traveling outside the major centers, it is preferable to visit a private clinic rather than a government-run hospital should you require medical attention.

 

Diseases that can be found in Laos include typhoid, tuberculosis, hepatitis A and B, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We advise that you take relevant precautions to avoid exposure to these and other health risks.

 

Safety & Security

Laos is a relatively safe country to visit, however the usual common sense safety precautions apply. The cities are small, easy and safe to navigate on foot. The streets are generally quiet after 9pm as most Lao people go to bed early, and there are local laws ensuring businesses close by midnight.

 

It is important to watch your step on the streets as they can be marked by potholes and uneven surfaces. It is advisable to wear minimal jewelry and to keep cash to safe place. A hotel address card should be carried in order to show drivers to navigate your way back.

 

During your time inLaos, it is recommended you keep copies of your passport, credit card details and airline tickets in a secure place apart from the original documents. Wherever possible, leave valuables in your hotel's safety deposit boxes.

 

Getting Around

Road journeys inLaostake place in modern minibuses with air-conditioning. Lao Airlines are used for domestic flights, which use reasonably modern aircrafts.

 

For exploring cities and towns, you can opt to walk, or take a tuk-tuk for longer distances. In Vientiane there are also taxis available. Laos is an excellent country to explore by boat, with many options to cruise the MekongRiver. Unlike neighboring countries, Laos does not have a rail network.

 

Food & Drink

Lao cuisine is healthy, fragrant and full of flavor. It features many similarities to the food found in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, with some distinctive native herbs and ingredients.

 

Mainstays include spicy salads, soups and grilled meats, and sticky rice is consumed with most meals. Common ingredients in Lao dishes include galangal, fish sauce, lemongrass and chilli, unlike in Thai cuisine, coconut cream or milk isn’t typically used in soups and curries. Various wild leaves and herbs are incorporated into many dishes, and meats including buffalo and frog feature widely, along with an abundance of fish.

 

Vegetarians should be able to find suitable dishes to order in Laos. Bottled water is available everywhere and is usually complimentary in your hotel room, and it is important to not consume the tap water.

 

Internet Access & Communication

Internet services can be found inVientianeand Luang Prabang, such as at internet cafes, and rates are very affordable. The best value way to phone internationally is through an internet phone service. In hotels, international phone calls and faxes are fairly costly, and it is not possible to make reverse charge calls in the country.

 

It is possible to use cell phones if you have roaming enabled, although outside the main centers coverage is inconsistent. International post takes 10-14 days to reach its destination, with the cost of sending mail comparable to fees in Western countries.

 

Tipping

Tipping is not obligatory in Asia, though is highly appreciated when received. It is a great way to demonstrate your satisfaction with service levels. At the commencement of your trip, your local guide or tour leader may request a small amount (approximately 50 cents per day) to be used as tips for boat crews, hotel porters and other service staff encountered. This eliminates the need to constantly carry small change, and also prevents excessive tipping.

 

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