Posted By : Threeland Travel / Laos Travel Guide
Known as the Kingdom of a Million Elephants, Laos is the only landlocked country in the center of Indochina. It is very impressive that 40% of Laotians live on highlands and high mountains, still preserving their traditional customs while it has a population of 6.8 million people in 2017.
Moreover, Laos has various stunning and pristine landscapes because mass tourism has not flourished here. If you are curious about exploring diverse and specific cultures of ethnic minorities or interested in immersing in nature, a Laos trip will give you an unforgettable experience. Wait, do not be so eager and forget these below steps before starting your interesting Lao tour packages. And if you are wondering what to see, what to do here, this detailed blog will suggest some must-see destinations.
1. ESSENTIAL BELONGINGS IN YOUR LUGGAGE
Obtaining a Laos visa is much more straightforward than before. By law, all visitors must hold a passport in at least six-month validity remaining from the date of entry and at least two blank visa pages. Laos Embassy in your country is the first place to get a travel visa. Besides, to save time for tourists, this country also issues many flexible visa policies.
Laos visa exemption is for 15 nationalities, but the length of stay in days is different among these countries.
• 30 days: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam
• 15 days: Japan, Luxembourg, Switzerland
• 14 days: Brunei, Myanmar
Let's ready to fly to the Kingdom of a Million Elephants
Visa on arrival:
Tourists from 32 countries below can only obtain Laos on arrival visa if they are holding an official letter of guarantee issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos.
| Sierra Leone
For other nationalities, travelers may obtain one that is valid for 30 days for a fee at most of the 27 ports of entry, except:
• Napao-Chalo (Vietnam)
• Subhun (China)
• Pakxan-Bueng Kan (Thailand)
• Xieng Kok river port (Myanmar)
Notes: US dollars and Kip in cash are accepted to pay, so it is better to exchange money in your country or at the entry in advance.
See more: Cruise tours through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia tour on Mekong River.
Laos has launched an eVisa service since July 2019 for all countries except 32 countries mentioned above.
eVisa is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance and its holders may stay for up to 30 days through the following entry points:
• Wattay International Airport
• Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
• Luang Prabang International Airport
To enter Laos by E-visa, you should bring along required documents:
• A passport with a minimum validity of 6 months from the date of arrival
• A printed copy of the Laos eVisa Approval Letter
• Recent passport-style color photo
• Additional documents may be required depending on nationality
Notes: eVisa cost is not the same among countries and it can be issued with 3 business days.
Filling details is a must-step while obtaining a Laos e-visa on the website
There are a lot of commercial flights to reach Laos such as Attapeu International Airport (in Attopeu), Luang Prabang International Airport (in Luang Prabang), Pakse International Airport (in Pakse), Wattay International Airport (in Vientiene).
More road and rail routes or cruise options are offered when you travel from Vietnam and Cambodia.
See more: How to prepare for connecting flights from Vietnam or Cambodia
If you have any inquiries about VISA, Threelanders are always willing to assist and give you the most appropriate suggestion for your tour to Laos.
- Exchange money
Kip (LAK) is Laos’ currency, with the exchange rate is around 1 USD ~ 8800 LAK (in Nov 2019).
Exchanging into Kip is easier with the places:
• In your country: Laos Embassy.
If you travel to Laos after visiting Vietnam, a lot of services are available in big cities in Vietnam such as Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City.
• In Laos: at some international airports, international gates, however, the fee is much higher than ATM in big cities such as Vientiane, Banks or exchange offices.
- Clothes and Living tools
Laos is in the tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: the rainy season (from May to November) and the dry season (December to April). The weather in the dry season is the best time to travel to Laos with a very nice temperature of about 15-30 degrees Celcius.
A list of useful objects will be helpful:
• Wear lightweight clothes, less ironing (the cost of laundry clothes in Laos is very high).
• Hats, masks, sunglasses, sunscreen, gloves.
• Soft-sole sports shoes are convenient for moving a lot.
• Medicines for basic diseases.
• Sun cream, insect treatment.
• Buy sim phones at the border.
• Prepare slippers, brushes, toothpaste, … in advance because most of the hotels in Laos do not equip
2. ATTRACTIONS IN LAOS
- Vientiane – Laos’ Capital
Vientiane is the capital of Laos, it locates on the bank of Mekong River, near the border between Laos and Thailand. The title of this city has a very beautiful name, in Laos’ national language, it means “The Moon City”.
Among abundant historical and religious sites, Threeland.com will suggest the most attractive places for your Vientiane city tour.
Buddism covers Laos so that you can see pagodas everywhere. In Vientiene, a must-visit Buddist temple is Pha That Luang, a world cultural heritage, the symbol of Theravada Buddhism of Laos. When reaching here, you will be impressed by its magnificent golden exterior and hear very interesting stories relating to its history as well as Buddism development. Another one is Budda Park, 25 km from the center of Vientiene, which displays over 200 giant sculptures of Buddha and Hindu deities. Wat Pra Keo is also an important and famous temple in Vientiane. Pra Keo is the emerald Buddha temple where kings and royal monks to pray. Visiting Phra Keo Pagoda, you will be lost in the "art world" with precious treasures as well as golden, silver or jade sculptures, carvings, and rare artifacts. These Buddha statues have a variety of shapes and expressions, and they are believed to bring happiness and prosperity to mortal.
Pha That Luang - The symbol of Laos Buddism
“Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane” – Patuxai symbolizes for victory of Laos against French. It is located at the end of Lane Xang, the main street of the capital where you can recognize it from any direction. It is very interesting when reaching the top of Patuxai, do not forget to capture beautiful moments with your family in a stunning panoramic view of Vientiene. You will miss the charm and peaceful and simple life of this city after your Laos trip.
The fanciful charm of "Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane" in the early morning
Talat Sao Morning Market
Talat Sao is the largest market in both Vientiene and Laos. Here, you can enjoy shopping in the labyrinth of tiled alleyways stock clothes, souvenirs, and knick-knacks.
Notes: Like most traditional markets in Southeast Asia, remember to bargain to comfort you and seller.
- Xieng Khouang
Xiangkhuang Province is north-east of Laos, has many notable landmarks including 32 natural sites, 18 cultural sites, and 13 historical sites.
The most prominent among them is Plain of Jars, where thousands of stone jars scatters around the upland valleys and the lower foothills of the central plain of the Xiangkhoang Plateau. It was told that giants were settling a long time ago. People also said that jars field was to ferment and contain large quantities of rice wine to celebrate the victory of King Khun Cheung.
Archaeologists believe that the jars date from 1500 to 2000 years, with that archaeological value, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, this area is still one of the most dangerous archaeological sites in the world because unexploded bombs leftover from the American War are lying in the ground. Visitors to this area can safely visit in Location 1, 2, and 3.
Notes: Please follow the instructions of the unexploded bombs to ensure safety.
The immensity of Plain of Jars
Kham District (Muong Kham), home to the H’Mong community, is a noteworthy cultural destination.
The quiet Muong Kham town is adjacent to Phu Bia mountain - the highest mountain in Laos, famous for its two hot mineral springs: Bo Noi (small stream) and Bo Nhay (big stream). Muong Kham is also famous for its large and beautiful hospitals in many caves built during the anti-American war. Moreover, located quite high above the sea, it has a cool climate all year round, poetic natural landscape, Muong Kham is an ideal destination to relax and release all your stress.
See more: Discover XiengKhuang in Laos at a glance
Known as “heavenly district" or "land of fertility suitable for agriculture”, Savannakhet is the biggest province in Laos. Savannakhet city is the second biggest city in this country, it is so exciting to entertain and join the bustle and hustle life here.
Perhaps, you’ve ever heard about this destination with the title: A World Heritage, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Luangprabang (one of the three small states of Laos), from the 14th century to the middle of the 20th century. However, how much did you know about this city?
Until now, nestle among the lush green mountains of Upper Laos, by the majestic Mekong River, this city is an un-skipped place when visiting Laos. Here, you will be overwhelmed by the masterpieces of ancient architecture. Moreover, many interesting and unique cultural features of indigenous people will be discovered through your expert tour guide.
Get up early and take part in almsgiving activities every morning in Luang Prabang
3. CULTURAL DIFFERENCES NOTES
When communicating with locals:
• Do not kiss, hug waist or tease girls, even girls in the massage department, it is impolite
• Remember to put your hands all behind back or all in front when taking photos with women.
• Touching or patting their heads (especially men) is not only abstinence but also considered a serious insult.
• It's best not to insist when people don't want to show it or touch it. It may be a greedy item, or it may also have a special spiritual value to them so they do not want anyone to touch it.
When visiting cultural sites:
• Dress modestly, not disordered, or make vulgar, teasing words. You should not turn your back on the Buddha or make noise in the temple.
• Do not try to capture the beautiful architecture as a souvenir if there are prohibited signs, you will be invited immediately.
• Laotians rarely honk because they think the whistle is the most redundant detail on a car! So, restrict honking to show your respect to residents.
• If you see a string made of cotton fabric or a special symbol at the entrance of the village, you shouldn’t enter the village. It is often because there is a strange case of the disease or a mysteriously dead in the village can spread the infection, or that day is intended an abstain day.
• When sleeping at a homestay, do not point your head towards the door. At night, you should not cut your hair or shave. You must abstain from cutting hair on Wednesdays or washing hair on Thursdays. You must not leave a mortar in the house or go through a clothesline on which there are women's clothes.
• Laos uses 220 - 240Volt electricity, the 3-pin power outlet, so remember to prepare the appropriate plug.
• A day of Laotian starts quite, starting at 9 am, so the market meets late and usually bustles at 11 pm.
• Almost temples in Laos open from 8 am to 5 pm.
• Hotels in Laos are often not equipped slippers, brushes, and toothpaste so remember to bring them along
• Tuk-tuk is the most popular mean of transport in the Kingdom of A Million Elephants, this will take you to every destination in cities.
• Remember to keep public hygiene.
Do you finish your necessary list to prepare for your Laos tour packages? Let’s note again compulsory steps: obtaining a Laos visa, learning an overview of Laos’ nature and culture as well as tourist attractions. Moreover, remember some tips while traveling about clothes, daily tools to have a wonderful Laos trip. And one step not to be missed is finding and booking flights, accommodation, and land tours, then enjoy your tour to Laos. If you have any inquiry, do not hesitate to contact through “PLAN A TRIP” tab at Threeland.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or What’s App: +84342620068 or call +842439262056.