Laos has so much to offer! It has vibrant and diverse heritages from the glittering golden roofs of Buddhist temples in Luang Prabang to the little French cafes in antique colonial buildings in Vientiane. Laos possesses some of the most stunning examples of heritage and history in what was previously known as the French Colony of Indochine.
Although Laos is a well-known destination for budget travelers, the country also offers everything posh travelers would expect of accommodation, service, activities, and exclusivity. So, let’s get started with 6 things you should know before traveling to Laos:
French or English will get you around the country
The official and dominant language is Lao, a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group. However, only slightly more than half of the population speaks Lao natively. French is still commonly used in government and commerce and over a third of Laos’s students are educated through the medium of French with French being compulsory for all other students. On the other hand, English has become increasingly studied in recent years.
Best season to visit Laos
Laos is best visited between October and April.The climate of Laos is tropical in most of the plains, while it’s subtropical in the far north and in the mountains. Between October and April, is when the weather’s warm and dry throughout. River travel is best between November and January when high water levels make passage easy along Laos’ main waterway, the Mekong River. The period from March to May, before the rains, is the hottest of the year with highs around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F). April is the hottest month, with average highs about 35 °C (95 °F), but with peaks of 40/42 °C (104/108 °F) in the center-south, and up to 45 °C (113 °F) in the north. The rainiest months are usually August and September. There are also sometimes Typhoons in Laos, so do check the weather before you plan your trip!
The average cost of food in Laos
The average cost of food in Laos is ₭96,690 (10 USD) per day .Laos is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, and as a landlocked country with a small handful of attractions, it is often overlooked. Travelers who do come to this country come for the laid back atmosphere and beautiful landscape with striking sunsets and welcoming people. If you are traveling as a backpacker with a budget and you tend to lay back and chill like a local, the average cost a day can be as low as 10 USD! The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Laos is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
In Laos the power plugs and sockets
In Laos the power plugs and sockets are of type A, B, C, E, and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 HzYou should use a voltage converter which also changes the frequency, but these are hard to find. If your converter cannot change the frequency, be warned! Be especially careful with moving, rotating and time related appliances like clocks, shavers, and electric fan heaters.
Transportation in Laos
- Minibusses are a faster, but more expensive option. There are 3 bus stations in Vientiane: Central Bus Terminal, Northern Bus Terminal, and Southern Bus Terminal. The route is quite easy for you to travel to other places in Laos.
- VIP buses are older and break down often, but they are more comfortable with more space for the traveler. Some perks may also be included in your fares such as a bottle of water and lunch or dinner. Air conditioning is usually available but may be broken.
- Motorbikes are for the adventurous ones in Vientiane. It’s suggested put on a helmet and bring with your motorcycle license since the police are zero tolerant about those who without one.
- Renting a car is the most expensive, but the most convenient option for navigating the country.
- You can also travel around the country by river and it is a shortcut for those who have put up with the horrible road condition of Laos. The Mekong River flows from north to south of Laos has given it a chance to develop waterway transportation such as a boat. A cruise on the boat from Vientiane to Paske or from Paske to Si Phan Don will give you an opportunity to view Laos in a different way and feel Laos’ natural sense. There are several stops during the trip to take a picture or visit ethnic groups in Laos.
- Tuk-tuk is a common means of transportation in Laos and is extremely popular in Thailand and in fact, the same thing also happens in Laos because of its reasonable price and convenience. It makes it easier for you to discover around the city, just use them when you are tired of walking or when you want to watch the local life. Passengers are expected to pay for each destination with a negotiable price before the ride.
Fly to Laos or you can transport from Thailand
There are three main international airports in Laos which are most convenient for tourists to get Visa on Arrival: Luang Prabang International Airport, Pakse International Airport, Wattay Airport (Vientiane). You can easily get a Visa on Arrival at these airports by paying a fee and doing necessary customs. There are a few airlines that handle international flights in Laos. In Vientiane and Luang Prabang they are Lao Airlines, Thai Airways, and Vietnam Airlines while the Bangkok Airways only serves in Vientiane.
There is an overnight sleeping train which departs from Thailand at 8 pm every night and arrivals at the frontier of Laos the next morning. Visa on arrival is available. It’s cheap to afford, but not many people opt to take due to the rarely known location of the station and the poor service on the train.