Welcome to Laos!
Laos, a landlocked country of northeast-central mainland Southeast Asia, located on the Mekong River and known for being one of the most mountainous countries in the world, French colonial architecture, diverse ethnic communities and Buddhist temples.
Laos weather consists of wet and dry seasons. From May through October, the country experiences downpours and occasional floods, usually in the lowlands. Travelling on land can be a bit rough, and delays are not uncommon during this time of the year.
Laos’ hot season lasts from November to April, but you’ll enjoy 2 different weather conditions. The best time to visit Laos is at the end of the year (December–February). During this period, you’ll enjoy low temperatures and clear skies, which make for pleasant sightseeing.
Temperatures from March through April often hover over 30°C. Laos also experiences heavy smog due to farmers setting fire to rice paddies as an effort to improve soil fertility. It’s best to avoid visiting Laos during this period.
Laos geography covers 236,800 sq km, with its highest peak at 2,820 metres. It’s located in the mountain ranges of north-eastern Laos, in the Xiang Khouang province. The Khammouanne and Bolaven plateaus dominate the central region of the Annamites, with mountains reaching heights of 2,600 metres.
Laos has 2,400 km of rivers and streams that lead to the Mekong River. The country experiences average rainfalls of 1,360 mm in Luang Prabang and 3,700 mm on the Boloven Plateau during monsoon season. The country also suffers from regular water shortages in the low-lying Mekong Delta plains, which affect the rice crops that account for almost 80% of the country’s agricultural land.
The national language is Lao, but English is commonly used in major tourist centers. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai are also widely understood. French, German, Russian and a number of other European languages are also spoken by many educated Lao, as many students received higher education in Europe during 1970’s-1990’s
Buddhism is the main religion in Laos, and its overall influence upon the daily lives of the Lao people has been altered by the strictures of the communist government. In fact, the Lao government doesn’t oppose observance of the religion and has used many of its teachings to support its political goals.
The Vientiane-based That Luang festival – once a 3-day religious observance during the first decade of Communist control – has expanded into a week-long celebration of concerts, parades, and religious ceremonies
There are several social rules in Laos that you may need to follow during your holiday. Lao people greet each other with a prayer-like gesture called a nop. A younger person or a person of lower status will nop their elder or social superior.
The western custom of shaking hands has become more common in recent years, though a smile and a slight bow of the head is still considered polite. Backslapping, public displays of affection, shouting, and wild gesticulation are considered impolite among the local community.
Buddhism has also influenced many social rules in Laos – the head is considered the highest part of the body and the feet lowest, both literally and figuratively. Touching someone’s head or pointing with your toes are extremely rude behaviors.
You’re also required to remove your shoes before entering temples and somebody’s home.
Government offices are open from 08:30am-12:00pm, 01:00pm-04:00pm on Monday through Friday. Banks open from 08:30am-03:30pm on Monday-Friday, shops around 09:00am-06:00pm (holiday depends on each shop).
The Kip is the official currency of the Lao PDR and the following banknotes are currently in circulation: 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Kip.
The best currencies to use when exchanging money are: US Dollars, Euros and Thai Baht. You can exchange your currency at the bank, airport, or at a foreign currency exchange office.
Visa, Master Card and American Express are accepted only in larger hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops in the large cities (such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champasack).
Internet access is available in many hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants in big cities. Although internet cafes are often available in provincial capitals, it may be difficult to connect to the internet in some rural areas.
Laos Visa On Arrival
Visitors could apply Laos Visa On Arrival at the arrival international airport in Vientiane & Luang Prabang.
Visa Form is available at the Counter of Immigration right on arrival gate. You need to fill in and get Visa.
The lines for visa are not too long, but if you fill the Visa Form in advance, you don’t have to wait too long at the last of the line.
Laos Visa is easy to obtain on arrival at all port of entry including the most popular international airports.
Obtain Laos Visa on arrival at popular international airports:
Obtain Laos Visa on arrival at Border Checkpoints:
China – Laos Border gate:
Thailand – Laos Border gate:
Vietnam – Laos Border gate:
Cambodia – Laos Border gate:
Travelers holding passports from the following countries are not eligible for Laos visas on arrival: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Syria (Syrian Arab republic), Eswatini, Tonga, Turkey, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Laos Visa Requirements:
– Your original passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity and a blank page for a visa sticker.
– A Visa Application Form, filled out and signed by the applicant (available at visa window at Lao ports of entry or given before landing if you are arriving by plane).
– Two (2) recent passport-type photographs (If you are unprepared (cannot provide the photo) there will be an extra fee (few dollars) for scanning your photograph from your passport, and placing it onto your visa application form).
– Visa fee (in cash).
The cost of Laos Visa depends on which passport you are holding. The price list is on display at the visa counter.
Laos Electronic Visa (E-Visa)
Although the Visa On Arrival at the borders give more flexibility in making travel arrangements as visitors do not need to plan their visa ahead, it may occur long lines at the port of entry and travelers must carry with them all the relevant documentation and money to cover the visa on spot. Therefore, the Laos (E-Visa) eliminates the need for this complicated application process upon arrival.
By applying online, you can submit all the required documents and information and pay the visa fees from your home or office. In additional, you can use eVisa special lane at arrival port to avoid standing in the long queue at the Visa on Arrival lane.
From July 2019, the Laos government has officially launched The E-Visa Laos which is an electronic travel authorization, allowing citizens from 162 eligible countries (list at https://laoevisa.gov.la) who can apply online (non-refund).
Lao eVisa can be used to enter 5 international ports:
There are 3 simple steps to apply at https://laoevisa.gov.la as following:
Important notes for E-Visa Laos
Laos Visa Extension
If the unexpected occurs and your plan change or you simply wish to stay longer in Laos, it is possible for you to extend your visa at the immigration office in Vientiane (*), which costs 20,000kip (round US$2,50) per day in case you apply before or on its expiry date. However, if you do it after your visa expires, you will be fined for US$10 per day for the days you over stayed.
(*) Vientiane’s Immigration Office is on Lane Xang Avenue. Opening hours: 8:00-16:00 (closed at lunchtime from 12.00pm – 1.00pm) from Monday to Friday, but closed for applications on Friday afternoon.
There are also visa extension offices in Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse.
Requirements for Visa Extension
This process is straight forward, so just fill out the application form then submit together with your passport, photo and pay the fees. If no increasing issue, your visa can be ready the same day. This option could work well if you only plan to stay for a few more days.
You can do it on your own or via travel agent or specialist provider to do your Lao visa extension for you. If due to any reason that you could not make the visa extension for a few more days extra at the immigration office, you might just stay as long as you prepare to pay the fine (US$10 per day) which will be collected on your departure.Share this tour
Laos Office: Ban Viengsay, Luang Prabang. Tel: +856 209 800 0752
S&M office: 747 Ngo Gia Tu, Long Bien, Hanoi. Tel: +84 (0) 912 035 062
Ba Khan Village resort: No 1. Khan Ha, Son Thuy, Mai Chau. Hoa Binh.
Mon – Sat 9.00 – 18.00 Sunday and public holiday CLOSED