Laos Travel Tips

One of the charms of Laos is that tourism here is still developing and at a slow pace. While there are some stunning luxury accommodation options in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and some fine restaurants, you may find that the style and speed of service is not the same as you would find in your country or other destinations Asia.
It is important that you try to be patient and deal with any frustrations in a calm manner; the Laos people are warm and welcoming, but anger is not well-tolerated. Like Thailand, Laos features a strong Theravada Buddhist culture, which is central to daily life.

Health & Fitness
As with traveling to other parts of Asia, you need to take precautions when visiting Laos. Some of the diseases known to exist in Laos include hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever, diphtheria, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We strongly recommend you consult your doctor with regards to vaccinations and up-to-date health advice at least a month before you leave Australia.
Medical care facilities are basic, even in the capital Vientiane. Any serious medical treatments will likely require transfer to Bangkok.

Visa Information
Most travelers, including citizens of Australia, need a visa to enter Laos. Australian travelers can obtain a 30-day tourist visa on arrival at most overland border points and at the airports in Vientiane, Pakse and Luang Prabang. The current price for Australian passport holders is currently 30 USD (USD cash only, passport photo required). Visas cost an extra 1 USD on weekends and public holidays.
Note: as with all destinations Laotian visa regulations are subject to change. We strongly advise that you check with the Lao embassy prior to travel in Laos. Although we can offer guidance, please do be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa.

Safety & Security
Laos is a very safe country, despite being one of the poorer nations in the region. However, you should apply common sense as you would when traveling anywhere: make sure your spending money is out of sight and near your body and keep jewellery to a minimum.
Even in Vientiane, you will feel safe walking at night, however Laotians tend to go to bed early so the streets are quiet after 9pm. Always carry a hotel address card with you when you go out so you can show taxi drivers.
While on holiday in Laos, you should keep a photocopy of your airline tickets, passport and credit card numbers separate from the originals in a safe place. Most hotels have room-safes for deposit boxes at reception where you can store valuables. Read our safety guidelines for further information.

Getting Around
Arrival and Departure Transfers
Arrival transfer: If you have booked an arrival transfer for your Laos holiday, you will find your driver waiting for you in a Travel Indochina t-shirt and carrying a Travel Indochina signboard with your name on it.
+ Road: For six travelers or more, air-conditioned Hyundai with 25-40 seats are used. If you are traveling in a smaller group, travel will be by air-conditioned minibus or modern sedan car. Metered taxis are cheap and plentiful in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
+ Air: Domestic flights in Laos are on Lao Airlines, and the planes are quite new. Schedules often change at short notice and can affect your travel plans.
+ Boat: Many of our Small Group Tours to Laos include some boat travel on the Mekong, and it is a wonderful way to get around the country.
+ Other: Tuk tuks, bicycles and your feet.

+ Internet: Internet is generally inexpensive in Laos and readily available in Luang Prabang, Vientiane, either in your hotel or at an internet cafe. Many cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels in these centers provide free WiFi.
+ Phone: Mobile phones can be used if you have roaming enabled, though coverage outside urban areas can be inconsistent. The cheapest way of calling overseas (or locally) is via a VOIP service such as Skype. International phone and fax fees in hotels are expensive and you cannot make reverse charge calls in Laos.
+ Mail: International mail from Laos generally takes ten to fourteen days to reach its destination. Prices are equivalent to Australian postal rates.

Food & Drink
You will find the food in Laos has a lot in common with neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam. Fish sauce, coconut milk, chilies, lemongrass and galangal are all common features, and dishes are usually served with sticky rice, rather than steamed rice.
Some specialties worth trying are som tam, a spicy green papaya salad, and laap, made with minced chicken, pork or fish. Vegetarians are generally well catered for, with vegetarian options often highlighted on a menu or in a separate section.
Tap water should be avoided however bottled water is readily available and provided on a complimentary basis by most hotels. The local beer, Beerlao, is considered by many to be one of the best beers in Asia.

Tipping is a personal matter, and you should never feel obligated but when traveling in Laos, a tip is often an appropriate way to show your appreciation for great service.
If you are joining one of our small group tours, your local guide or will ask for a small sum at the beginning of your stay in Laos. This will be used to tip hotel porters and boat crews during your trip. This means that you do not have to worry about having small change on hand, and helps to prevent over-tipping. You may also choose to show your appreciation for our guides, drivers and tour leaders with a tip; however, it is not compulsory to do so.