Laos, this tiny, land-locked country, is the off-the-beaten-path of Southeast Asia. Frequently overlooked by travelers heading to Asia, Laos has a lot to offer. It is a beautiful country, filled with mountains, jungles, and the mighty Mekong River. While in Laos, visit Buddhist monasteries, explore the mysterious Plain of Jars, relax in lovely Luang Prabang, or float down the Mekong River. Laos blew away our preconceptions and left us wishing we had more time to spend in this unexpectedly amazing country.
Things To Know
Laos (official), French, and English
220V 50Hz Power sockets A, B, & C.
Kip (LAK). $1 USD roughly equals 8,200 LAK (as of February 2017).
Visas are required for all tourists except those from Russia, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and ASEAN countries. A visa on arrival is available for those entering at airports in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Pakse. The visa on arrival is also available at several overland border crossings. Visas can also be obtained ahead of time at Laos embassies.
When To Go
The best time to go to Laos is between November and February, when the weather is cool and dry. Temperatures begin to rise in March and peak in April, becoming uncomfortably hot. The rains arrive in March and last until September.
It is important that a woman never touch a Buddhist monk or hand objects directly to them. It is a very serious offense for a Buddhist monk to be touched by a woman. If this happens, the monk will have to return to the temple to perform cleansing rituals.
Take the Slow Boat down the Mekong River. Travel by boat from northern Thailand to Luang Prabang. It is a two day journey filled with amazing scenery, a visit to a Laos village, and a visit to a cave used as a temple. This journey blew away our expectations and we cannot recommend it enough.
The Plain of Jars. This is an archeological site that dates back to 500 BC. No one really knows the purpose of these giant stone jars but it is fun to guess.
Vang Vieng. This was once the hottest party spot in Laos, a small town home to numerous bars. Visitors would float down the Nam Song River on tubes, drinking and partying along the way. Now, the Laos government has closed many of the bars, in response to tourist deaths and safety issues. Vang Vieng still deserves a visit. It is a very scenic destination offering numerous outdoor activities, including a more sedate tubing experience.
Luang Prabang. A beautiful town in the Laos jungle with a very unique name. We loved this place. French cafes, a bustling night market, excellent shopping, and terrific street food. Again, Laos beat our expectations with this totally cool small town.
Bokeo Nature Reserve. This area was created to preserve the habitat of the black-cheeked Gibbon. Trek for three days or more, searching for Gibbons, sleeping in tree houses.
Vientiane. The capital and the largest city of Laos. It is here you can see Pha That Luang, the gilded stupa that is the national symbol of Laos, and Buddha Park, a strange collection of Buddhist and Hindu concrete sculptures.
Si Phan Don. Also know as Four Thousand Islands, this is where the Mekong River in Laos meets Cambodia. Take a boat tour here and enjoy the views.