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Laos Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to get a Visa & Who need a visa?
Make sure your passport is at least 6 months long validity when you enter Laos and some of ASEAN country citizens, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, Luxembourg and Switzerland are allowed to enter Laos without a visa for 15 days.
Visitors are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Sri Lanka… and African countries must obtain visa before arrival from an embassy and consulate.
The 30 day visa on arrival is also available at Laos international airports and border crossing. To obtain Lao visa, you must have valid 6 months passport and one passport type photos. The cost of the visa is varied depending on your nationality. Visa cost ranges from $40-$50 for most Europe countries.
Visa extension is available at the Immigration office behind the Joint Development Bank (JDB) on Lane Xang Avenue, opposite the Morning Market in Vientiane. It cost $2 per day if your visa is still valid and if not (already expired), you have to pay $10 per day, the service fee is $3.00 and the application is $0.40. You have to bring along your passport consisting at least one blank page and passport photos. Alternatively, you can get visa extended through a travel agency with an overhead fee.
2. Do I have to use local currency in Laos?
Kip is the official Lao currency and is used by Lao PDR. No, you don’t have to exchange from US dollar to Kip currency but having some local currency in pocket is not bad in case you want to purchase small items. Make sure you don’t have any Kip left when you leave the country because Kip is unusable outside the country. US dollar or Thai Baht are extensively used in many places, stores, markets, restaurants…
The following banknotes are currently in circulation: 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Kip. You can do the exchange on your arrival day at International airports or at border crossing, the exchange rate is about 8500 = $1.00 and recommend you to exchange Kip near your hotel or at market or at foreign currency exchange office if you wish to get a better exchange rate.
3. What’s the weather like?
Laos has two distinct weather seasons with typically dry season and wet season. From November to February with temperature 18° low to 28° high while the humidity in the dry season varies from 23° low to 36° and rainy season runs from around May to October, and as with many Southeast Asian countries. The Luang Prabang’s weather is slightly lower than Vientiane’s because it is surrounded by rainforests and the cut through by the flow of Mekong River while mountainous Vang Vieng (central part) temperature is cooler from November to February and wet season is not a good time to explore Vang Vieng due to safety condition.
4. Drinking water in Laos
Highly not recommended to drink the tap water in Laos and rely on bottled water is a better option. If you consider about environmental issue; try to use a refillable canteen or water bottle rather than buying bottled water which you can find it everywhere. Make use you check with locals or get advice from your tour guide if you don’t really rely on ice quality.
5. What kinds of clothing is suitable?
People should wear whatever they are most comfortable in, but a fair amount of modesty should be exercised. It can be extremely hot and humid and while some are comfortable in loose-fitting cotton, others feel better in quick-drying synthetics. Remember not to wear revealingly when you visit religious sites and highly recommend to dress appropriately to show your respect to the locals and should bring extra warm clothes if you plan to visit Vang Vieng longer.
6. What’s an ideal budget?
That depends entirely on your style of travel and level of comfort that you are accustomed to. Here are some examples of basic costs (Costs are quoted in US dollars, or USD). You can find guesthouses from as low as USD10-15, to suite at 5-star western chain hotels from USD200 while local 4-5 star hotels are from USD60-160. Dinner at a street stand for USD1.5 – USD3, at an affordable local restaurants for USD4-6.
– Budget traveler- USD 18-25
– Flash-packer- USD 30-45
– Mid-range- USD 60 -80
– Deluxe- USD 100 and up
If you look for Western standard or luxury or boutique 5* hotels in Vientiane or Pakse or Vang Vieng, it probably disappoints you due to lacking of demands.
7. What’s the best way to get around?
You may note Thai tuk tuk, Lao tuk tuk is quite similar and take it easy to get around to some of main tourist sites depending on the distances. Tuk Tuk is good for getting around with short distance with max 15km while comfortable A/C car is available for all destinations in Laos.
9. Is a visitor required to have a guide?
To get the deep insight of Vietnam history & culture, you should hire an experienced local English speaking tour (other languages are available) as you make your day tour around. The tour guide service is very useful for your journey, it helps you save your time, assist to manage your trip plan plus giving additional suggestions and you will experience the journey in meaningful. A tour guide can be arranged from a travel agency or through your hotel with overhead fee but travel agency may offer you a better rate.
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