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Laos

LAOS TRAVEL GUIDE

Officially known as the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), is one of the most peaceful and least explored nations in Southeast Asia. A mountainous and landlocked country, Laos shares borders with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar and China to the north.

 

Visitors who are drawn by the laid-back lifestyle and the opportunity to watch the sunsets on the Mekong will simply explain the attraction by revealing that the true meaning of "Lao PDR" is Lao - Please Don't Rush.

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  • Capital: Vientiane
  • Currency: Kip (LAK)
  • Area: 236,800 km²
  • Population: 7,062 million (2018)
  • Language: Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
  • Religion:Buddhist 98%, other (chiefly animist and Christian) 2%
  • Electricity: 220V, 50Hz (European & US plugs)
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BEST TIME TO VISIT LAOS

The best time to visit Laos depends on your personal preferences and the specific activities you want to do while you are there. Here are a few things to consider:

  • The dry season, which runs from November to April, is generally considered the best time to visit Laos. During this time, the weather is pleasant and there is less chance of rain. However, it can also be the busiest and most expensive time to visit.

  • The rainy season, which runs from May to October, is a less popular time to visit Laos. The weather is hot and humid, and there is a higher chance of heavy rain. However, the rain often comes in short bursts, and the country is still worth visiting during this time. Prices may also be lower.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Laos is a matter of personal preference. Consider your interests and budget, and choose a time that works best for yo

Best Time To Go

LAOS WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Laos climate can be divided in two distinct seasons: a dry season from mid-October to April and a rainy season dominated by the south-west monsoon which brings high rainfall, high humidity, and high temperature between May and mid-October. Temperatures during the March-May period can reach high into the 30°C, while at higher elevations and during the dry season's cooler months of December and January, temperatures can drop to 15°C and below. The average annual rainfall ranges between 1,300-3,000 mm. The majority of the population lives in the lowland areas, including around the Mekong River Basin. The El Nino Southern Oscillation, in addition to the tropical monsoon, plays a major role in driving the climatic processes in Laos.

Laos

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

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BEST TIME FOR

SNOW SPORT IN LAOS

HIKING & CYCLING IN LAOS

The best time for outdoor activities in Laos is during the dry season, from November to April. The rainy season is from May to October and it can be difficult to move around the country during this time.

BEACH OPTIONS IN LAOS

SURFING IN LAOS

KITESURF IN LAOS

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN LAOS

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Travel Safety

HEALTH RISKS IN LAOS

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Laos

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

LAOS TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Laos will depend on a variety of factors, including your mode of transportation, the length of your stay, the type of accommodation you choose, and your spending habits. Some estimates for a budget trip to Laos for a week could be around $50-$70 per day, although this amount can vary significantly.

Here are a few potential expenses to consider when planning your trip:

  • Transportation: The cost of transportation to Laos will depend on where you are coming from and how you plan to get there. If you are flying, the cost of your plane ticket will be a major factor. You can also travel to Laos by land from neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and China. The cost of travel within the country will depend on whether you are using public transportation, hiring a private vehicle, or traveling by motorbike.

  • Accommodation: There is a range of accommodation options available in Laos, from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels. Prices will vary depending on the location, amenities, and quality of the accommodation. On average, you can expect to pay around $10-$30 per night for a budget guesthouse, and around $50-$100 per night for a mid-range or luxury hotel.

  • Food: The cost of food in Laos is generally quite affordable. Street food and local restaurants will be the cheapest options, while Western-style restaurants and international chains will be more expensive. You can expect to pay around $1-$5 for a meal at a local restaurant, and around $5-$20 for a meal at a Western-style restaurant.

  • Activities: The cost of activities in Laos will depend on what you are interested in doing. Some popular activities include visiting temples and other cultural sites, participating in outdoor activities such as trekking and rafting, and attending festivals and cultural events. Prices for these activities can vary, but you can generally expect to pay around $10-$50 per activity.

Keep in mind that these estimates are just rough estimates and the actual cost of your trip may be more or less depending on your specific circumstances. It's a good idea to create a budget and plan ahead to ensure that you have enough money to cover all of your expenses while you are in Laos.

Cost & Spending

LAOS TRAVEL TIPS

Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF LAOS

Laos is divided into 18 provinces, which are further divided into districts and villages. Here are some of the main regions of Laos and the highlights of each region:

  • Vientiane Capital: Located in the central part of the country, Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos. It is known for its mix of modern and traditional architecture, including the That Luang Stupa, which is the national symbol of Laos, and the Pha That Luang, a sacred Buddhist stupa. Other highlights include the Patuxai Victory Monument, which is similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the COPE Visitor Centre, which is a museum dedicated to the victims of unexploded ordnance in Laos.
  • Luang Prabang: Located in the north of the country, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular destination for travelers. It is known for its beautiful temples, including the iconic Wat Xieng Thong, as well as its colorful night market. You can also take a boat trip up the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves, which are home to thousands of Buddhist statues.
  • Si Phan Don: Si Phan Don, or the "4000 Islands," is a region in the south of Laos known for its picturesque rivers and waterfalls. It is a popular destination for relaxation and outdoor activities, such as kayaking and rafting. The region is also home to the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, which can be seen in the Mekong River.
  • Phongsali Province: Located in the far north of the country, the Phongsali Province is known for its rugged mountains and stunning views. It is a popular destination for trekking and visiting traditional hill tribe villages. The region is also home to the Phu Faek Forest Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife.
  • Vang Vieng: Located in the central part of the country, Vang Vieng is a popular destination for adventure seekers. It is known for its beautiful landscape, which includes karst cliffs, caves, and rivers. Activities in the region include rock climbing, caving, and tubing on the Nam Song River.

These are just a few of the main regions of Laos, and there is much more to see and do throughout the country. Whether you are interested in culture, nature, history, or adventure, you are sure to find something that interests you in this beautiful country.

Highlights
What To See & Do
Travel Map

Laos is a beautiful and culturally rich country with a lot to offer visitors. Here are a few things you might consider seeing and doing during your trip:

  • Visit the ancient city of Luang Prabang: Located in the north of the country, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular destination for travelers. The city is known for its beautiful temples, including the iconic Wat Xieng Thong, as well as its colorful night market. You can also take a boat trip up the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves, which are home to thousands of Buddhist statues.
  • Explore the capital city of Vientiane: Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos. It is known for its mix of modern and traditional architecture, including the That Luang Stupa, which is the national symbol of Laos. You can also visit the Patuxai Victory Monument, which is similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Pha That Luang, a sacred Buddhist stupa.
  • Go trekking in the countryside: Laos is home to a number of beautiful natural areas, including the Phongsali Province in the north, which is known for its rugged mountains and stunning views. You can hire a guide and go trekking through the countryside, visit traditional hill tribe villages, and stay in local homestays.
  • Visit the Plain of Jars: The Plain of Jars is a series of ancient stone jar sites located in the Xieng Khouang Province of Laos. The jars, which date back to the Iron Age, are thought to have been used for burial purposes. There are several sites to visit, including Site 1, which has the largest concentration of jars, and Site 2, which has the best preserved jars.
  • Participate in a traditional Lao Buddhist ceremony: Laos is a predominantly Buddhist country, and you can learn more about the religion by participating in a traditional ceremony. This could include attending a temple festival, making merit at a temple, or attending a chanting ceremony.

These are just a few suggestions, and there is much more to see and do in Laos. Whether you are interested in culture, nature, history, or adventure, you are sure to find something that interests you in this beautiful country.

Laos
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN LAOS

WHAT TO EAT IN LAOS

Laos has a diverse and delicious culinary scene that is influenced by the country's rich cultural and culinary traditions. Here are a few dishes you might consider trying during your visit to Laos:

  • Khao poon: Khao poon is a popular Lao dish that consists of vermicelli noodles in a spicy coconut broth. It is often served with a variety of toppings, such as boiled egg, chicken, beef, or seafood, and it is typically garnished with fresh herbs and lime wedges.

  • Laap: Laap is a minced meat salad that is a staple of Lao cuisine. It is made with minced chicken, beef, or pork and mixed with herbs, spices, and a dressing made with lime juice and fish sauce. Laap is often served with sticky rice and is typically garnished with fresh herbs and vegetables.

  • Tam mak hoong: Tam mak hoong, also known as green papaya salad, is a popular dish in Laos and throughout Southeast Asia. It is made with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, and carrots, and it is mixed with a dressing made with lime juice, fish sauce, and chili peppers. Tam mak hoong is often served with grilled meat or fish, and it is typically garnished with peanuts and fresh herbs.

  • Khao jee: Khao jee, or Lao-style baguette, is a popular street food in Laos. It is made with a soft, white baguette that is filled with a variety of ingredients, such as ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. Khao jee is a convenient and tasty snack that you can find at many street stalls and markets throughout the country.

  • Sticky rice: Sticky rice, or khao niao, is a staple of Lao cuisine. It is a type of glutinous rice that is steamed and often served with a variety of dishes, including laap and grilled meats. Sticky rice is typically eaten with the hands and is an important part of many traditional Lao meals.

These are just a few examples of the delicious food you can enjoy in Laos. Whether you are looking for spicy, sweet, or savory dishes, you are sure to find something that satisfies your taste buds.

LGBTQ IN LAOS

Laos

WHERE TO STAY IN LAOS

For a first-time visit to Laos, it's recommended to base yourself in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its cultural significance, stunning natural scenery, and abundance of attractions. Here's why:


Where To Stay In Luang Prabang:

Luang Prabang is a charming city nestled in the mountains along the Mekong River, known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, and vibrant night market. Explore attractions like Wat Xieng Thong, Mount Phousi, and the Kuang Si Waterfalls.

  • Budget: Downtown Backpackers Hostel offers affordable accommodations with dormitory and private rooms, located near the city center and major attractions.

  • Mid-range: Villa Santi Resort & Spa provides comfortable rooms and resort-style amenities with a peaceful atmosphere, within walking distance of the night market and temples.

  • Luxury: Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao offers luxurious accommodations with upscale facilities, including a spa, infinity pool, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Tip: Visit Luang Prabang during the dry season (November to April) for the best weather and fewer crowds, and consider booking accommodations well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons like the Lao New Year (Pi Mai) in April.


Additionally, for those interested in exploring Laos' capital city and its vibrant atmosphere, consider staying in Vientiane:


Where To Stay In Vientiane:

Vientiane is the largest city in Laos, offering a mix of French colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, and lively markets. Explore attractions like Pha That Luang, Patuxai Victory Monument, and the Buddha Park.

  • Budget: Mixay Paradise Hotel offers budget-friendly accommodations with basic amenities, located near the Mekong River and attractions like Wat Si Saket.

  • Mid-range: Salana Boutique Hotel provides comfortable rooms and modern amenities with a central location in the city center, close to restaurants and shops.

  • Luxury: Settha Palace Hotel offers luxurious accommodations with elegant design and upscale facilities, including a swimming pool and French-inspired restaurant.

Tip: Look for hotel deals and promotions during the low season (May to September) for better rates and availability and consider exploring Vientiane's vibrant street food scene for authentic Lao cuisine.


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Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

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