Laid-back and lovely, a Laos travel package can deliver beauty and mystery in equal measure and a wonderful destination for all types of visitors. Preparing for a trip to Laos is much easier when you have a little knowledge and know what to expect when you arrive in the country.
From the relaxing town of Vang Vieng, the mysterious Plain of Jars, the rich monastic tradition of Luang Prabang, and the peaceful capital of Vientiane, Laos is a beautiful country that is well worth exploring while in this part of the world.
Laos has a much slower pace of life than neighbouring countries and still able to maintain a lot of is rustic and authentic charm. It is well worth visiting this country before the huge tourist boom finally arrives.
Here are just a few travel tips for Laos that will make the stay safe and enjoyable:
Stay on the beaten track
Stick to the heavily tourist areas in the countryside to stay safe. Landmines can be a concern for the travellers that want to venture off the beaten track. An English speaking guide will be practical for the travellers looking to explore the less travelled regions. Laos was one of the most heavily bombed countries at the time of the Vietnam War, so it is especially important to avoid the unplanned treks that go off the beaten track and stay on the designated tourist paths on your holiday.
Also, similar to other developing countries, it is practical to leave valuables, purses, jewellery, etc. at the hotel when going out for the day.
Avoid tap water
Avoid the local tap water and only drink bottled water to stay on the safe side. Also, water using for making ice or brushing the teeth should be sterilised, boiled or simply use the bottled water.
Also, it is advised to use tinned or powdered milk because the fresh milk is unpasteurised and shouldn't be drunk unless boiled first. The same applies to any dairy products that are likely to be made from un-boiled milk. Fruit should be peeled, vegetables should be cooked, and fish and meat must be well-cooked.
Get your vaccinations
Before travelling to Laos it is worth checking to see which vaccinations are recommended by the medical professionals. Likely issues can include Japanese encephalitis, tuberculosis, dengue fever, hepatitis B and hepatitis E. Also, it can benefit to read up on the different illnesses to learn how to prevent infection and also spot the most noticeable symptoms.
Cash is the main currency
Cash is the main payment method when travelling around the country. The local currency is known as Lao Kip. Even though travellers will see the occasional ATM machine on the Laos travels, they can be relatively limited and mainly seen in Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Huay Xai. It is wise to always travel with a little cash on you. Credit cards are mostly accepted at high-end restaurants, hotels and shops.
Also, the Kip currency can have a lot of zeros, so it may benefit to get a little familiar of what to expect to ensure you are comfortable with handling the money, and less likely to be left short-changed.
Many tourists to Laos will appreciate the opportunity to be truly independent and venture out on a motorcycle tour. A typical place to find the hire shops is in Vientiane, although there are occasional options in other parts of the country. Also, the quality of the machinery isn't always the best, so it will benefit to inspect the bike before leaving the shop.
Laos has many good and paved roads so the ability to tour the most popular parts of Laos is relatively straightforward. The most common bikes to hire are Honda's (XR 250 and Baja), which are easy to handle and quite sound mechanically. Helmets are mandatory in the country and must be worn at all times while on the road.
Internet is slow
The Wi-Fi in Laos isn't the best and will likely be a lot slower than what you are used to. For this reason, it can benefit download or print out any important paperwork before your travel. This can include an offline map to make it easier to navigate around the country, and also any confirmations related to hotel or tour bookings.
Tourists to Laos rarely visit just the one city. Most Laos customised tours include travelling within the country or combining the excursion with visits to neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. It can benefit to plan ahead and make sure the tours, flights and accommodation is ready for when you arrive. Planning ahead is certain to help if travelling during the high season (October to February) because most of the guest houses will already be booked out by the time you arrive.
Also, it is useful to plan the transportation, but this is usually best organised after arriving in the country. It is difficult to get up-to-date and correct information on the internet, but is relatively straightforward to book bus tickets and find information and times once in the country.
Car journeys are a further option to get around. Hiring a car with a driver/guide makes it possible to really see the incredible scenery throughout the country, while also benefiting from the fascinating stories that are told by your personal driver/guide for the day.
Need medical care
If you are in the unfortunate position to need serious medical attention, you are likely to benefit by flying to Bangkok. Many travellers visit several of the SE Asian counties together (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand) on the Laos Holiday, and out of these counties, Thailand (Bangkok) is certain to have the best medical facilities available.