Frequently asked questions

 

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  • Airport tax

    • How much shall I pay for airport tax?
      International Departure tax of equivalent of USD 10 payable in USD, Thai Baht or Kip. - per passenger
      Domestic airport tax of Lao Kip 5,000.- per passenger .

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  • Getting there

    • Arrival by Air
      The only port of arrival by air is Wattay Airport in Vientiane. You can travel by Lao Aviation, Thai Airways International, Vietnam Airline, The Southern China Airline, Silk Air,
      Malaysian Airline and Regular flights are available to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Kunming, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

    • Arrival by Road
      Road access is possible from neighboring countries. Between Thailand and Laos the border can be crossed at Houeixay in Bokeo province, at Mittaphab Friendship Bridge near
      Vientiane and at Dan Savannakhet in Savannakhet Province.
      China can be reached by road at Boten in Luang Namtha province. Border crossings between Laos and Vietnam have been set up at Lak Sao on the road No.8. Borikhamsay
      province and at Dan Savanh in Savannakhet province on the road No.9. City, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Kunming, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

    • Arrival by Train
      Although there is currently no rail connection to Laos yet, an extension of the Bangkok- Nong Khai railway is planned and a line from Vientiane to Nong Khai is scheduled to start operating in near future.

    • Arrival by Boat
      From Kunming or Xishuangbanna, China, it is possible to travel by boat through the Mekong river straight South into Bokeo province.

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  • Health

    • There are no requirements for immunisation other than the usual requirements if having recently travelled in a yellow fever affected area. However visitors should be inoculated against Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Diphtheria, and Tetanus, Polio. In addition, vaccinations of Tuberculosis and Japanese B Encephalitis are suggested for visitors spending some time in Southeast Asia, especially in remote areas.
      Malaria and Dengue fever are a problem in Laos. However, with caution, they can easily be avoided. Please consult your doctor for anti malarial medication. There is no
      protection against dengue fever. We suggest that you take the following precautions in addition to taking anti malarial prophylactics. In any case, the best prevention is not to get bitten by mosquitoes.

• Sleep with a mosquito net outside towns
• Wear long sleeves and trousers around dusk
• Use plenty of strong insect repellant - some brands can be applied directly on clothing.

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  • Money - Currency

    • What money should I take?
      Travelers’ checks are accepted, and just about all credit cards too. US dollars and Thai baht are equally welcome. It is unnecessary to carry around wads of the local currency the 'kip'. Cash advances can be taken on major credit cards in most Vientiane banks but there are no ATM machines yet. International transfers can also be arranged-funds can be available within 48-72 hours if you are in Vientiane.

    • Are there ATMs in Laos?
      While a few ATMS were recently installed in Vientiane, they do not accept international cards so are useless to tourists. It is rumoured that one international ATM is on the way.

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  • Safety

    • Is it safe to travel? Are there places to avoid?
      You are welcome everywhere. The International press tends to sensationalize the occasional blip on the domestic radar screen. Backpackers and families are equally secure
      in moving around. And travel insurance is easily purchased and the premiums are remarkably reasonable. Embassies and local travel personnel are in perfect positions to
      know the ins and outs what’s hot and what’s not. New destinations constantly open up throughout the year. It is always advisable to ask what’s going on when you get there

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  • Telecommunications

    • How can I get in touch with my family, workplace and friends?
      Telephone: Most hotels have IDD phones in rooms. Faxes can be sent from hotels and post offices although these services are expensive. It may not always be possible to make international calls in remote areas. If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the fares before using it abroad though as it may cost you an arm and a leg.

    • Internet: Major hotels throughout Laos have Business Centres with PCs connected to the Internet. Some have wireless broadband access. Check with reception for fares and facilities. Cyber cafes are easily found in major towns and cities and prices are reasonable. In many Internet cafes, you can buy pre-paid international phone cards to dial from a computer to landlines or mobile phones worldwide. Most Internet cafes are equipped with webcams, headsets and microphones.

    • Mail: Postcards are sold at all main tourist sites. Stamps are available from post offices and sometimes from hotel reception desks. A postcard to Europe costs about 6,500 kips and takes 10 days to two weeks to reach its destination.

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  • Time

    • What is the time difference in Laos?
      Laos' time zone is GMT + 7. There is no daylight saving time here.

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  • Transportation

    • Is it easy to rent a car or motorcycle?
      Yes, depending on where you are and the local government laws at the time. In certain places, foreigners are banned from riding motorbikes in particular, but occasionally bicycles too. Where it is possible, you'll be expected to leave your passport at the place where you make the rental. However, it is highly advisable to rent a car with an experienced driver who knows the area and can speak Lao in case of any problems.

    • Can the driver speak English and act as a guide?
      No, he cannot. In Laos, drivers are only drivers. Tour guides must be licensed by the National Tourism Authority.

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  • Visas

    • What are the visa requirements?
      Most passport holders require a visa to enter Laos. Visas are available upon arrival at Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang International Airport, Pakxe International Airport, and the Friendship Bridge. The price is US$30 and they are vaild for 15 days. 15-day extensions are easily granted in Vientiane at the Immigration office. Expect to spend 10-20 minutes at any of the above visa points. Also, you can get Laos visas at the Laos Embassy in your country.

      NOTE: Visa conditions change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Laos for the most up to date information.
      You should ensure you obtain an entry stamp on arrival. Failure to do so may result in a fine.

    • I heard that you can get Visa on Arrival at the border with Thailand at Chong Mek - is this true.
      There was a time when you could do this, but this is no longer the case.

    • I have heard that it is cheaper to get a Lao visa in Bangkok - how do I do this?
      The cost of a visa in Bangkok is about $10 cheaper in Bangkok - but by the time you get to our embassy (which is situated right out of town) and back, and then return to pick up your visa, you will have wasted a lot of time and money. The cheapest, fastest and easiest option is to get a visa on arrival at Vientiane Airport, Luang Prabang Airport or at the Friendship Bridge.

      NOTE: You should use only official border crossing points to enter Laos.

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  • Weather

    • When is the best time to travel Laos?
      The coolest months are December through February. Air conditioning is then unnecessary. Luang Prabang and Northern Laos will have temperatures approaching freezing at night during this time, but daytime can be like spring in Europe, North America and Japan. March through May are the hottest months, sometimes exceeding 40C for a few days at a stretch. June through August are the wettest months, and high temperatures seldom exceed 28C or 29C due to extensive cloud cover. It is lush - very green then, and the sun does shine much of the day, making it excellent for photography. September through November the rains taper off and the dry season
      starts to dominate rural and city life. Every season Laos tourism has something special to offer, so there is no reason to procrastinate.

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  • Others

    • What language will they understand?
      English is the language of tourism in Laos. Guides are available who speak European languages. English appears more and more on road and building signs. The phonebook is printed in Lao and English. You will meet many English speakers in large cities (Vientiane - Luang Prabang). Cyber cafes are sprouting up everywhere, and these are always staffed by English speakers.

    • Do’s - Don’ts?
      Lao culture is generally conservative, so watch the locals and try to act like them. When making travel in Laos, trying to speak a few words of Lao will always be appreciated, and will earn you big smiles and friendly interaction. If you encounter a problem, maintaining patience and poise. Unlike western countries, raising your voice will be completely counter productive. Laos is a very personal place and smiles are returned more quickly than you might expect, even when you don't speak the local dialect.

    • What food will I find?
      You will find excellent international cuisine of every description, including Indian, Japanese, Italian, French, Thai, Chinese and Korean. Hotel restaurants are a good place to start and are not necessarily expensive. Then try restaurants, like Kua Lao in Vientiane that specialize in Lao dishes known to be popular with foreigners. Fish and vegetables are local and excellent. Lao beer is excellent. Locals prefer spicy food but chefs know that foreigners prefer mild spices to strong ones. Still, it is smart to remind your waitress to go light on the sauce!

    • Should I tip?
      In most places in Laos, tipping is not expected though as always it is appreciated. If you want to tip, 10% percent is pretty generous.

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