Travel Information to Cambodia | Visa to Laos - Best travel time - Laos tour packages
SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL LAOSTraversed by the Mekong River, Laos is known for its mountainous terrain, colourful pagodas, French colonial architecture and generally laid-back and friendly atmosphere. Compared to its neighbors, Vietnam, Cambodia and especially Thailand, Laos is relatively untouched by tourism and it offers an unparalleled feeling of adventure and authenticity, with an amazing untouched scenery, a vibrant cultural mix with numerous ethnic groups, and a stunning heritage of French Indochina, as well as more ancient times.
Luang Prabang, the former capital city and also the heart of culture of Laos, has become the top choice destinations for travellers in recent years. It is loved for its uniquely preserved architecture and townscape; traditional wooden buildings and European colonial mansions form a backdrop to the daily ritual of saffron-robed monks gathering alms.
Vang Vieng is the best places for those who want to immerse in an authentic tranquil life alongside the Nam Song River or to explore the scenic limestone karsts, numerous caves and hidden lagoons.
One of the last mysteries of Asia lies in the area around Phonsavanh. Over 300 giant stone jars, carved out of solid rock, lie scattered around a plateau now known as the Plain of Jars.
LAOS VISA EXEMPTIONS
most people will need a visa to enter Laos. Only citizens of the following countries are exempt from visa requirements, and they can stay from14-30 days:
- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Notes on visa exemptions:
Citizens of the countries listed above who want to stay longer than 14-15 days will have to apply for a Laos visa online or on arrival.
LAOS VISA ON ARRIVAL
Almost everyone who is not visa-exempt can apply for a Laos visa on arrival. Only citizens of the following countries are unable to get the VOA and have to apply for a visa at an Embassy instead:
- Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tonga, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Applying for a Laos visa on arrival:
When you arrive at the checkpoint in Laos, you have to approach the visa-on-arrival issuing counter and present the following documents:
- Your passport. It must be valid for at least another six months.
- The Laos Visa on Arrival Form, which you can get at the checkpoint or on the airplane.
- Proof of accommodation in Laos. E.g. a hotel reservation.
- Two recent passport-size pictures. 4 cm x 6 cm dimensions.
- Cash (in US dollars) to pay for the visa fee. The Laos visa fee is USD 30 to USD 45, depending on your nationality.
- Proof you have sufficient funds to cover the duration of your stay in Laos.
- A confirmed return ticket or onward travel ticket.
- A visa/ticket for the next destination (if applicable)
LAOS ELECTRONIC VISA (E-VISA)
If you are eligible for a Laos visa on arrival, you can also get a Laos visa online (E-Visa). You can apply for the E-Visa through the official website (here):
Applying for a Laos Online:
- Complete the online application form
- Attach the required documents:
- A recent picture of yourself, with a white background and 4×6 cm dimension
- Your passport’s cover page
- Your passport’s a bio page
- Possibly, additional documents.
- Pay the online application fee. The fee is between USD 31 to USD 45 depending on your nationality.
- Wait for the visa application to process. This takes about three working days unless there is a problem with your application.
- Download the eVisa Approval Letter. You will receive it on your email. Once you get the approval letter, you have 60 days to use it.
LAOS EMBASSY VISA
To apply for a Laos Visa at an embassy, you have to:
- Get in touch with the nearest embassy or consulate.
- Complete e Laos visa application form and submit it along with the required documents. You can find a Laos visa application on the website of the embassy or consulate.
- You can apply in person or via mail, as per the instructions of the Lao consular services.
- Pay the Laos visa fee.
The visa application process will change slightly depending on where you apply, which is why you have to contact the embassy or consulate of Laos first. You can find the diplomatic missions of Laos listed here.
You have to apply for a Laos visa at the nearest Lao embassy/consulate only if
You are not able to get the visa on arrival or online visa or
You want to stay for longer than the VOA and eVisa allow.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISITS LAOS
• The Southern part of the country, South of the capital of Vientiane is always relatively warm and has a dry season from November to February.
• The Months of March and April are very warm and humid in the South and followed from May to October by increasingly intense rains, that cause floods during the months of September and October in Southern Laos.
• The North also knows a dry season and a rainy season, but much more intense in terms of temperatures and rain levels. The dry season lasts from October to end of March and the temperatures are pleasant in October, November, February and March in North Laos, but very low temperatures in December and January.
If you are planning to visit the cities of Pakse, or the four thousand islands and the Southern part of Laos, it is recommended to travel from November to February. It also corresponds to a pleasant season in the North where you can visit the wonderful city of Luang Prabang and the waterfalls of Kuang Si. This period, from November to February is considered the best time to travel to Laos and especially the months of November and February to maximize your chances to have a nice wether and comfortable temperatures during your whole trip in Laos if you are crossing the country.
If you are focusing on the North, or doing a combination trip with Vietnam and/or Cambodia, it is highly recommended that you travel between October and March, since it corresponds to the dry season in South Vietnam, the fall and winter in North Vietnam (high season for Vietnam) and the dry season for Cambodia as well. With a little luck, you can have a pleasant weather during your whole trip!
It is worth noting that from March to May, farmers burn the fields after the crops in northern Laos, which creates a fog over some regions including Luang Prabang.
Also, it is not a bad idea to travel to Laos during the beginning of the rain season as it is not raining all day and not everyday, so you can still have a nice weather, the prices of hotels, excursions and attractions are generally lower, and also, because the level of water of the rivers is high enough to allow boats to cruise, which is not always the case during the high season (dry season), so you need to contact a travel expert on Laos in order to best plan your trip!
The country also has an interesting event that you might want to add to your agenda: the Songkran. This festival, common to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar is the New Year celebration in Laos and a true, amazing experience. Indeed, while new year celebrations in western countries consist in fireworks and presidential announcements, Laos takes it to another level with an intense party and water fight brought to every single street of the main cities as a symbol for luck.
Medical and dental facilities are mostly operated by the government. Private clinics and pharmacies are available in the major cities.. Medicines from France, USA, Russia, Thailand, and China are widely sold in almost pharmacies.
The usual voltage is 220V, 50Hz.
CURRENCY, EXCHANGE & ATMs
The local currency is called Kip. One USD is worth approximately 2,450 kip (1998). Money can be exchanged at banks, authorized shops, or hotels. Exchange rates fluctuate every day, although the fluctuation is minimal. Banks include: Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao, Sethathirath Bank, Nakornluang Bank, Joint Development Bank, and Thai branch banks. Credit cards can be used at major banks, some hotels, restaurants and shops.
Light-weight washable cotton or cotton-blend clothes are suitable. A sweater or coat is needed for the winter and in upland areas.
ETIQUETTE - important Laos travel tips
As in all Buddhist countries, the Lao people are quite conservative when it comes to clothing and nothing that would be suitable for the beach should be worn somewhere else.
• In general, showing too much skin is seen as provocative, and it is even forbidden in pagodas to enter if your body isn’t covered from shoulders to below knees.
• It is also forbidden for women to touch monks, their clothes, or to hand them something directly.
• It is also considered impolite to show signs of affection in public, especially in rural areas, so refrain from hugging or kissing in the countryside!
Lao people are very polite, courteous and it is recommended to adopt the same attitude when addressing to them, as well as to never touch their heads, nor touch or point anything with your feet.
TIME ZONE & WORKING HOURS
The time in Laos is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Meridian Time (GMS +7).
The Laos language is a member of the Tai language group, sometimes known as Tai-Kadai or Kadai.
Thai is well understood in Laos, since Lao people watch Thai television and listen to Thai radio.
Laos is a tonal language, with six tones - people will find it quite hard to differentiate between the tones, but any attempt to speak just a few words will win you instant friends.
It is easy and cheap nowadays to access the Internet and email in Laos. It is available at most hotels, restaurants and cafes.
POST AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Telephone, fax, telegraph, and telex services are provided at post offices, hotels and business centers. Mobile phones are widely used and it is possible and cheap to buy a prepaid SIM for your unlocked phone or a cheap phone and a SIM card.
The Lao National Radio carries news in English, French, and Thai. There are daily TV broadcasts, with two local channels, Thai television and satellite reception.
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS & AIRPORT TAXES
Vientiane-Wattay International is 4km from the city (approx. 20 min. from town). Taxis are available and the rate (approx. US$4 from the city) is negotiable. There is an international airport in Luang Prabang as well with regular flights to neighboring countries.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Lao food is mostly composed of sticky rice, eaten with fingers. In the countryside, people will eat together, sitting on the floor, sharing a few dishes.
Lao food is dry, spicy and delicious. Food eaten in Laos is influenced by its neighbors and by the colonial French period (the bread is an example)