Outshined by the two neighboring countries in Indochina peninsula, Laos is often overlooked when it comes to tourism. However, once you are aware of the traditional and rustic charms of this country, you will be regretful for not paying a visit to Laos. Let’s get deep inside the landlocked nation of Southeast Asia.
Laos At A Glance
Where is Laos?
Nestled among Myanmar, China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam in the heart of Southeast Asia, Laos is an often neglected oasis. Though the country doesn’t have any ocean, its natural beauty shouldn’t be underestimated. It is the starting point of the downstream of Mekong river with excellent biodiversity. It stretches a wide range of latitudes, covering thickly forested landscape, rugged mountains, and high plateaus.
How’s Laos Climate?
Like other nations in Indochina peninsula, Laos’ weather is extensively influenced by the monsoon winds, typified by the dry and wet seasons. The former lasts from November to April, followed by months of rainy days from May to October. However, as the country features no coastline, the weather variation is less severe than the other counterparts.
Still, temperatures can have a huge gap between different latitude. The southern region tends to be hotter than the rest of the nation during dry season. When the wet season comes, this area also withstands the most heaviest downpour.
What language is spoken in Laos?
Lao, sometimes referred to as Laotian, is the official language of Laos. It’s closely related to Thai, so if you know some Thai language, you can properly handle well in Laos. Or else, English is also widely used for tourism in this nation.
What is Laos’ Currency?
The official currency is Laos Kip. It is very cheap as compared to US dollars, so you won’t have to spend a lot when purchasing stuffs or foods. In the airports or in some international tourist attraction, you may find shops allowing US dollars but that’s not common, so it’s better off exchange your money to Laos Kip before getting to Laos.
Visa Process And Transportation Within The Country
To promote foreign tourism, it is super convenient to get a visa for Laos. The national authority allows most of other countries’ citizens apart from Africa and the Middle East to obtain a a 30-day tourist visa on arrival. Therefore, all you need to do is:
- Book a flight ticket
- Show up at the customs
- Fill in the visa application form
- Pay for the necessary fee (about $30 and $42, based on your nationality)
- Wait for less than 10 minutes
- And receive your visa stamped
If you are a passport holder of ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, and Russia, you don’t have to pay the visa fee. can get a free visa on arrival valid for 30 days.
Easy as the visa procedure may seem, traveling around top attractions in Laos may be difficult due to the mountainous geography.
Public transports have a super low fare, but the conditions are not good, especially for long journeys. If you wander around the city, you can try tuk-tuk, similar to Thailand. In case you have to move from one city to another, hiring a private van or sharing cab is far more ideal. A boat trip in Mekong river is also a must-do in your bucket list for Laos.
Top-rated Attractions To Explore Laos
This is regarded as the most alluring city of Laos, which used to be the royal capital. Luang Prabang also got UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site thanks to the long-established culture and history. You will have a chance to watching the serenity when the monks scatter the streets to take alms of rice as offerings. It’s like a step back to the previous times.
Luang Prabang is prestigious for hundreds of long standing temples, most notably Wat Sen and Xieng Thong. The north central town is the intersection of the Mekong and Khan rivers backed by Mt. Phousi and Pak Ou Caves featuring thousands of Buddha statues. Not very far from Luang Prabang, you can visit Kuang Si Waterfalls with a greenish water color colliding yellow marble stones, making lots of white bubbles.
As the capital city of Laos, Vientiane is the ergonomic center of the country. However, the city differentiates itself from the hustle and bustle of the remaining Southeast Asian capitals by the chilling and relaxed atmosphere. The charm and beauty of Luang Prabang lies in the fusion of French architect and Cambodian religion. Here you can easily catch sight of golden-roofed temples, wooden houses and crumbling French colonial buildings, which sounds a little irrelevant but actually makes a perfect combination along the roads. You will be standing in awe to see the Buddha Park with more than 200 Buddha statues, one giant lying Buddha even stretches 40 meters in length.
Don’t forget to stop at Wat Sisaket, which is the home to more than 2,000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. Wat Ho Phra Keo, the former royal temple is another place to check out.
Plain Of Jars
Often compared as the Stonehenge of Laos, Plain of Jars is a megalithic archaeological landscape, containing thousands of stone jars scattered around the lower foothills and the upland valleys of Xiangkhoang Plateau.
Plain of Jars gives you a panoramic view of the highland with mysterious jars mostly arranged in clusters ranging in number from one to several hundred
Located by the Nam Song River bank, Vang Vieng is becoming the top of mind destination for outdoor activities. Nam Song river is such an endowment for this city as many of international travelers love kayaking and inner tubing on the river. If you want a bit more adventurous, you can try caving and rock climbing on the incredible limestone karst formations.
What To Pack For A Journey To Laos
Depending on the region of your visit, you should bring the suitable clothes. Most of the tourism cities such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Pakse… are on the middle and southernmost of the country, so you are not expected to bring super warm jackets. If you travel during the dry season, remember to carry the summer essentials of hats, umbrellas, sunscreens and water bottles. When you enter a temple, make sure your arms and legs is covered.
The nationwide electric output is 230V. Power outlets are two-prong round or flat sockets. Note that if you are having a lot of digital equipment requiring to be charged.
Another thing you should keep in mind is the tap water in Laos and many other Asian countries is uneditable. However, we wouldn’t suggest buying bottled water either as it increases the amount of plastic use. Therefore, you should ask your host if they have purified water and refill your bottle daily.