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About Laos

Laos People’s Democratic Republic (PDR)
Population 6.5 million Currency Kip (KN)
Capital City:  Vientiane (Pop: 750,000) Time Zone GMT +7 Hours
People Over 60 ethnic groups International Dialing Code +856
Language:  Lao    

Laos is a landlocked nation in Southeast Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam, that covers 236,800 square kilometers in the center of the Southeast Asian peninsula, is surrounded by Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its contains a population of 6.4million and almost all ethnic or "lowland" Lao are followers of Theravada Buddhism; however, lowland Lao constitute only 40-50 percent of the population.

After years of war and isolation, Southeast Asia’s most pristine environment, intact cultures and quite possibly the most chilled-out people on earth mean destination Laos is fast earning cult status among travellers. The country seems developing quickly but still has much of the tradition that has disappeared in a frenzy of bulldozers, concrete and reality TV elsewhere in the region. There is the historic royal city of Luang Prabang, where watching as hundreds of saffron-robed monks move silently among centuries-old monasteries is as romantic a scene as you’ll experience anywhere in Asia.

Away from the cities, the rivers that wind dramatically down to the Mekong, the forested mountains of the north, the gothic limestone karsts of central Laos and the 4000 riverine islands of the deep south form one of the most intact ecosystems in Asia. Not surprisingly, this wilderness is drawing travellers looking for nature, adventure, beautiful landscape or both. Kayaking, rafting, rock-climbing and biking are all available, but it’s the community-based trekking/elephant trekking that is the most popular because it combines spectacular natural attractions with the chance to experience the “real Laos” with a village homestay – while spending your money where it’s needed most.

There is undoubtedly a growing tourist trail in Laos, but that just means there’s plenty of roads where you can make your own trail. After all, half the fun of traveling here is in the travel itself – the people you meet, chickens you share seats with, wrong turns you take and Laos beers you drink with smiling family at the end of the road less travelled.

Laos people are the most friendly. There are a lot of beautiful places in our country and we really want you to visit us during your journeys in South-East Asia. You will bring back with value experiences of our tradition and culture.

Passport and visa

Passports should be valid for six months from the date of entry into Laos. We recommend you make a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere separate, or scan it and keep it in an accessible email account.

Visas valid for 30 days can be easily obtained on arrival. Cost depends on nationality (from US$30 to US$42). One passport-sized photograph is required.

Money

The official currency in Laos is the Lao Kip, which is non-convertible so you will need to bring US dollars to exchange. US dollars are also widely used in bigger cities, particularly in restaurants. Please note that torn and old bank notes are not generally accepted. In areas located near the Thai border, the Thai currency, Baht, is commonly used.  Visa and MasterCard are becoming more accepted in many of the bigger hotels and restaurants, especially in the larger cities. ATM’s are available in larger cities and tourist spots.

Post and telecommunications

Postal service sare available in Laos. The best way to receive any mail is to get it sent to a post office and collect it yourself. 

Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available, however they aren’t cheap.

Internet access is available in most major tourist places such as hotels, restaurants and cafes.

Transportation

The transport network in Laos is slow, but comprehensive. Getting around takes time, sometimes longer than you may think, but this is all part of the fun of travelling in this laid-back country.

Taxis and tuk-tuks

This is by far the easiest way to get around towns and cities, and negotiating the price is the norm.

Motorbike taxis and rental: Travel by motorbike in Laos is not safe and under no circumstances is this sanctioned or recommended by Spirit Asia Travel.  Please note that travel by motorbike is not usually covered by travel insurance. Please check the fine print of your travel insurance policy to be sure of your cover.

Health and Safety

Climate: Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: May to October is the rainy season and November to April is the dry season. 
It is hottest in March and April when temperatures can reach as high as 38C/100F. The lowest temperatures, usually in December, are around 15C/59F. The average temperature is between 25C/77F and 30C/84F.

Please note: The weather can be unpredictable so it may be a good idea to carry an umbrella or raincoat with you. You can purchase these from most supermarkets and general stores.

Health and wellbeing

Please be aware that your health can be at risk in Laos due to poor sanitation and lack of effective medical facilities. Rural areas may not have pharmacies and hospitals so make sure you travel with a full supply of any prescribed medicine you take. Every traveller is responsible for his or her own health. First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information and advice on travelling to Laos before departure.

If you have a medical condition or allergy which requires particular attention, please carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including paracetamol and a diarrhoea remedy.

Vaccinations

There are many vaccinations needed when travelling to this part of the world. It is important you ensure you have adequate protection against disease.  Book an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic, no less than two months before your departure.

Travel insurance (compulsory)

Spirit Asia Travel does everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some risk and this should be recognised by holiday-makers. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind. Please also ensure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip.

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