Top Tips and Curiosities about Laos

Tips and Curiosities about Laos:

Things you have to know before travel to Laos

If you plan to go to travel to Laos here are a few tips and curiosities about Laos after almost a whole month traveling there. A country that I didn’t expect much from, that I ended up falling in love with and now is one of my favorite countries in Asia.

Laos, located in Southeast Asia, is a mountainous, humble country, characterized by the passage of the great Mekong that crosses the entire country, respect for the Buddhist religion and the cultural traces left by the French. It is possible that some of these tips and curiosities about Laos will vary over the years, but many others are sure to remain the same:

Laos - Huay Xai Monks
Laos – Huay Xai Monks

Practical Tips and Curiosities about Laos

1. Laos’ currency and visa

  • The currency of Laos is called Kip, 10,000 Kips is only 0,44 euros. (When I was the first time in 2012, 10,000 kips was 1 euro).
  • To enter Laos you will need a passport with a minimum validity of 6 months from the date of entry.
  • The visa costs 30 euros and you can get it at the airport.
  • You need to bring two passport photos, if you don’t have them, you will be fined 3 euros.
  • If you enter Laos by land, take enough money with you for a few days, if possible dollars, better. In many cities, there are no ATMs, but you can change money.
Laos - Street Market
Laos – Street Market

2. How much does it cost to travel around Laos?

  • Remember to bargain if you want to buy clothes, crafts and get a tuk-tuk. You don’t have to bargain to buy food, prices are usually fixed and, at least to me, it’s bad to haggle 20 cents to people who barely make ends meet.
  • A double room costs about 4 euros in any city of Laos except the capital, which will cost you at least 8 euros.
  • If you want to stay in hostels, a single bed in a shared room with more people usually costs 4 euros a night.
  • Eating out costs between 30,000 and 50,000 Kips, if you eat in good restaurants. However, if you eat on the street, you will pay around 10,000 or 20,000 kips.

3. Which cities to visit in Laos?

  • Don’t expect overcrowded cities or skyscrapers in Laos, this country is known for its tranquility.
  • Luang Prabang, for me, the most beautiful city in Laos and with the best night market I have seen in Asia.
  • Vang Vieng is famous for the Tubing and many people just ends going there to get drunk. If you rent a bike and go around, you’ll see that Vang Vieng is much more than that…
  • Vientiane, the capital is characterized by being one of the most peaceful capitals in the world. It is worth a visit to understand the history of this country and the rhythm of life in Laos.
Laos - Vientiane - Pha That Luang
Laos – Vientiane – Pha That Luang

Practical Tips and Curiosities about Laos

4. Laotian gastronomy, what do you eat in Laos?

  • Laotian cuisine is quite similar to Thai cuisine. Here is a list of the most typical dishes.
  • The French colonial influence has left bread as one more ingredient in the gastronomy of Laos. So if you have been travelling around Asia for a few months and you are tired of eating rice, you are in luck, in Laos you can swell up on sandwiches
  • Watch out for ice in Laos, it’s made with tap water and it’s very easy to get diarrhea if you’re not careful.

5. Religion in Laos

  • The majority of the population of Laos is Buddhist.
  • Around five or six in the morning in many cities you can see the Morning Alms-Giving ceremony. In this ceremony the monks walk around the city with their huge bowls of rice and accept offerings from the citizens in exchange for blessings. This is something worth witnessing.
  • When you enter the temples you must take off your shoes and cover your shoulders and knees.
Tips and Curiosities about Laos - Temple Huay Xai
Laos – Temple Huay Xai

Practical Tips and Curiosities about Laos

6. Weather in Laos

  • The best time to travel in Laos is from November to February when it rains the least and temperatures are mild.
  • The monsoon is from May to October and is characterized by short and intense downpours.
  • It is a country with a warm climate, the average temperature in January, which is the coldest month, is 20.5°C.

7. Learn useful vocabulary

If you learn some vocabulary you will enjoy the experience more and you will do well in some day-to-day situations. Here are some words I learned (written more or less as they are pronounced):

  • Sabaidee (hello).
  • Job Chai (thank you).
  • Bo job Chai (no thanks).
  • Sef lai (delicious).
  • Sob di (goodbye).
  • Nam lai (nice).
  • Noa la fandi (good night).
  • Hiu huau (I’m hungry).
  • Penlai (expensive).
  • Hau dai? (how much does it cost?).
  • Seyu (soy sauce).

8. Keep in mind that…

  • According to Lonely Planet, if a foreigner has sex with a Laotian woman without prior marriage, it is a crime and he can be imprisoned and then expatriated. So don’t go to Laos if you’re looking for sex tourism.
  • In the villages like Muang Sing I try to be discreet, polite and friendly. That’s why I have two things clear that many people don’t have:
    • I’m not in a zoo watching weirdos, but people, so I take pictures of them fair and square.
    • I don’t give candy to the children; later they get used to it and already in many villages they greet you asking for money…
Kids from Laos Village
Kids from Laos Village

Tips and Curiosities about Laos: Conclusion

My last piece of advice is to enjoy the peace of mind that Laos offers, which is difficult to find in the surrounding countries. Thailand is very touristy, Vietnam very chaotic, but Laos is nature and calm.

But above all, enjoy its people, incredibly polite, kind, humble and friendly. Without a doubt, they are the best this country has to offer.

If this post has been useful to you, leave us a comment, rate and/or share. If you are thinking of going to Laos, you may also be interested in the post about an experience making a trip through the Mekong.

Tips and Curiosities about Laos - Vang Vieng
Laos – Vang Vieng

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