Laos is moderately wild, very exotic and more than a poor neighbor of the lucky Vietnam and Thailand. There is no sea here, but there are ancient temples lost in tropical forests, picturesque mountains and an amazing way of life. Tours, maps, visa, photos and reviews – all about Laos.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Laos is 7.379 million (2021).
The official name of Laos is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). This is one of the poorest and at the same time the most mysterious countries in Southeast Asia.
Laos as a state originates in the 14th century, when the country was called Lan-Sang-Khom-Khao – “The country of a million elephants and a white umbrella.” Numerous ancient temples, rich cultural traditions, endless rainforests and picturesque mountain landscapes are what attract tourists here.
The capital is Vientiane. Major cities are Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Pakse, Vang Vieng, Luang Namtha.
How to get to Laos
There are no direct flights to Laos from Russia. The most convenient way to get on the flights of Vietnam Airlines – through Ho Chi Minh City, Thai Airlines and Aeroflot – through Bangkok. Flight time is about 10.5 hours, excluding docking.
Find cheap flights to Laos
From December 2, 2017, Russian citizens do not need a visa to visit Laos for up to 30 days. But it is still worthwhile to issue a medical insurance policy for the entire duration of the trip in advance.
Import and export of foreign currency is not limited, but the amount over 2000 USD must be declared. Import and export of national currency is prohibited. Allowed duty-free import of up to 500 cigarettes or 100 cigars, or 500 g of tobacco; one bottle of strong alcoholic drinks, two bottles of wine, jewelry – up to 500 gr.
The import and export of weapons, explosive, poisonous and flammable substances, as well as narcotic drugs is prohibited. In addition, it is forbidden to export art and antiquities that are a national treasure, and any images of the Buddha, except for souvenir options.
Laos phone numbers
Embassy of Laos in Moscow: 121069, Moscow, st. Malaya Nikitskaya, 18; tel.: (495) 690-25-60, 637-01-58, fax: (495) 697-49-24
Embassy of Russia in Vientiane: Thaphalanxay quarter, km 4, Thadeua str.; tel.: (21) 312-219, 312-222; Web site
National Bureau of Tourism – 222-971
Fire department – 190, police – 191, ambulance – 195
City codes: Vientiane – 21, Luang Prabang – 71, Pakse – 31, Savannakhet – 41.
Climate of Laos
The climate of Laos is subequatorial monsoon. The average temperature in January is +15…+23 °С, in July – +28…+30 °С. There are three seasons: hot humid (May-October), dry cool (November-January) and dry hot (February-April).
In the Mekong Valley in March-April, the temperature can reach +38 °C, while on the nearby mountain slopes it does not exceed +22 °C. During the rainy season (from May to October), the daily temperature is +24…+29 °C.
Accordingly, the best time to visit the country is from November to February, the mountainous regions – from November to July.
Actual information: weather forecast for the main resorts of Laos for the coming days.
Laos is a fairly safe country, where, despite long wars, crises and poverty, the population has not hardened, and the level of theft, and even more violent crime, has remained surprisingly low. However, you should take reasonable precautions: do not carry all your cash, expensive jewelry and your passport (a photocopy is enough), but leave them in the hotel safe.
Traveling around the country is almost safe, certain measures should be taken only in the vicinity of the Cambodian border. Zones closed to tourists: near the Route 7 highway, the Saisombun Special Zone, a special administrative region administered by the army; as well as the lands adjacent to Rut-6.
The Valley of Pitchers is a territory in the north of the country, dotted with huge stone jugs of unknown origin, the weight of which reaches several tons.
Mined fields and unexploded bombs remained in some areas after the Second Indochina War. Visiting these places without guides is dangerous for life: areas east of Savannakhet, Siang Khouang, Salavan, Khammuan, Sekong, Champasak, Saisombun, Hua Phan, Attapu and Lang Phanang, fields east of Luang Namtha, Phongsali, Bolikhamsai and Vientiane prefectures.
When entering the country, prophylaxis against malaria is recommended. Under no circumstances should tap water or any non-bottled water be used. Products purchased from the market should be carefully processed.
The police strictly monitor the purchase and use of drugs by tourists, who, if caught, are subject to significant fines, up to and including imprisonment.
- What is the level of medicine in Laos
There are many hotels in Laos, and the prices are quite reasonable, but information about most of them can be quite difficult to find on the Internet. Mains voltage 220-230 V, 50 Hz. Plugs usually have flat connectors.
When traveling in a taxi or any other tuk-tuk vehicle, the cost of the service should be agreed in advance, before boarding the cab.
The monetary unit of the country is the Lao kip (LAK), in 1 kip 100 cents. Current exchange rate: 100 LAK = 0.4 RUB (1 USD = 14496.89 LAK, 1 EUR = 15250.74 LAK).
There are banknotes in circulation in denominations of 5000, 2000, 1000, 500 and 100 LAK; there are no coins in circulation. In addition, Thai baht and US dollars are accepted everywhere. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 13:30 to 17:30.
Currency can be exchanged at exchange offices, the airport and banks (it is better to bring US dollars with you, not rubles or EUR, etc.) Exchange offices usually have a better exchange rate, and it is safer to change currency there.
Credit cards are accepted for payment in large banks, metropolitan restaurants, hotels and shops. Traveler’s checks can only be cashed at the offices of international banks.
Shopping and shops in Laos
In the markets and in small shops, it is worth looking for all kinds of handicrafts, fabrics, jewelry and furniture. In such places it is customary to bargain.
Large stores are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 16:00, private shops – from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 21:00.
Prices in Vientiane are noticeably higher than in other parts of the country. Although even despite the fact that they are twice as high as “provincial prices”, they cannot be compared with Russia. Everything is cheap here.
Cuisine and restaurants
Rice, salt, all kinds of spices and sauces are the basis of Lao cuisine. A lot of greens and vegetables are also used here, and meat and fish are subjected to heat treatment, traditional for the region, in oil or on coals. When choosing dishes to start with, it is worth remembering three words: “khao-yao” (white rice), “khao phat” or “khao-kur” (fried rice) and “khao-nyau” (sticky rice that rolls into balls and falls into the sauce). From the choice of rice, you can already “dance” to the choice of the main dish: meat, fish or poultry.
Expensive hotels and restaurants, as a rule, add 5-10% tips to the bill.
Entertainment and attractions of Laos
Vientiane is a pretty town with many remarkable temples and colorful markets.
Luang Prabang (Luang Prabang) is the ancient capital of Laos, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. The city has many monasteries and temples of the 16th-20th centuries, for example, the Wat Sieng Thong monastery or the “City of Golden Temples” – the most beautiful building in Luang Prabang. Other attractions: the National Museum in the building of the former Royal Palace, the Tat-Chomsi pagoda on the “Holy Hill”, the “footprint of the Buddha” Wat Phra-Bath-Ny, the monastery of Wat Visun and many others.
The most popular drink in Laos is mak mai pan, a pulpy fruit juice mixed with ice and sweetened with condensed milk or sugarcane juice.
Pakse is an important trading city of the country, the commercial and transport center of Southern Laos. It is worth visiting the Wat Luang temple on the embankment of the Se Don River, the Provincial Museum, the building of the Chinese community, the large Oriental market, and the fish farm on the Mekong River.
Jah Valley is a wilderness between Phonsavan and Xieng Huang, where hundreds of stone urns of unknown origin are concentrated, collected in five groups. These huge structures (the largest is 10.6 tons) were carved about 2 thousand years ago.
Tourism in Laos is still in its infancy (although it is developing strongly). Therefore, you can get to many reserves and remarkable places only with an official guide who will help you complete all the documents, get “permits”, etc. You can try your luck at the Department of Tourism on your own, it’s better not to contact travel agencies on the spot, as they leave for a decent commission.
Holidays and events
New Year in Laos
Laos, December 31, 2022
Visa to Laos
Like its neighbors in Southeast Asia, Laos loudly invites tourists to its lands full of magnificent sights: Russian citizens do not need a visa to Laos if the trip lasts no more than 30 days. This rule applies to those who arrive at the international airports of Laos, and to those who arrive in the country from neighboring countries by land. At the border, it is enough to present a valid passport for at least six months – and welcome to the expanses of this colorful and very ancient country.
To cross the border you will need:
- international passport (valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry);
- return tickets or confirmation of hotel reservation (not required, but in rare cases, a border officer may require these documents).
In addition, you should definitely take out a medical insurance policy for the entire duration of the trip. Let it be better not to be useful than to be left without qualified assistance in case of an accident.