WHY TO VISIT LAOS
Genuine and enchanting, Laos is however one of the poorest countries in the world and is only now slowly opening up to tourism.
The capital, Vientiane, on the banks of the Mekong River, has an old village, temples and markets with an atmosphere both provincial and peaceful. Do not miss the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang with its 66 temples dominated by Mount Phu Si, it has a great traditional market and the caves of Pak Ou are only a little further north.
Later you could visit the Plain of Jars, where there are over a hundred jars of unknown origin that date back over 2000 years; these are dispersed in the desert.
Visiting the Bolaven plateau allows you to meet the different ethnic groups of Khmer origin, some of who still live in a traditional way with rituals going back thousands of years. This plain is very fertile and here Arabica coffee is still grown in the traditional way. In Saravane, you will be surprised to discover a market of chameleons and lizards. If you go to the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border you can see river dolphins.
Especially, take your time and leave your western influences at home in order to appreciate the true value of the kind and friendly Laotians.
WHAT TO SEE IN LAOS
Top destinations in Laos are:
- Luang Prabang
- Vang Vieng
- Si Phan Don
- Wat Phu
- Luang Namtha
- Tham Kong Lo
- Nong Kiau
- Bokeo Nature Reserve
WHEN TO GO TO LAOS
Best period to visit Laos is from November to March.
There is a dry season and a rainy season in Laos. Between April and October, the monsoon brings heavy rains, particularly in the South, which sometimes makes transport by road impossible due to damaged roads; in April and May, the weather is hot with temperatures of around 30°C and 35°C. From July to September, the rains are less frequent but heat waves are normal.
From November to March is the dry season: These months have lower humidity and bearable temperatures, which however change with the altitude. Nights can be cold in the northern mountains! This is the best time to visit Laos.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Laos.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH LAOS
There are no direct flights to Laos: You will have to go through Bangkok where Thai Airlines have a daily charter flight to Vientiane.
by plane, main airports are
- Luang Prabang
GENERAL INFORMATION ON LAOS
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice. Recommended anti malaria vaccination.
local currency: Lao Kip
local time zone: GMT+7
electricity: type A, B, C, E and F (230 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN LAOS
typical food in Laos
- Khao niaw: Lao glutinous rice (aka sticky rice) is the national staple; simply roll it up into balls and pop in your mouth
- Tam mak hoong: Laos’ favourite salad is an incendiary mix of pounded green papaya, peanuts, dried shrimp, green beans, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar
- Laap: A lip-smacking salad made from minced meat, fish or vegetables tossed with mint, chilli, lime juice, garlic, onions and powdered rice
- Pho: White rice noodle soup, usually served with beef or pork; it’s subtly flavoured and locals spice it up with fish sauce, dried chillies and herbs
- Khao jee: Baguettes are a legacy of the French colonial period, often served with tomatoes, cheese and pork in chilli sauce
- Sai oua: Traditional Lao sausage, flavoured with lime leaves, onion, garlic and Lao herbs
- Kai paen: Weed from the Mekong River – a Luang Prabang speciality – usually served dried into sheets with sesame
- Khao poon: Spicy soup with vermicelli noodles, chilli, lime leaves and strongly-flavoured perilla leaves
- Ping Kai: Lao-style grilled chicken, seasoned with pepper, coriander root, garlic and fish sauce
- Or Lam: A rich jungle stew or dried buffalo meat or game, chilli, mushrooms, beans and mashed eggplants
- Lao lao: The local rice whisky, traditionally prepared in village stills
- Beer Lao: The nation's favourite brew
- Cafe pakxong: Lao coffee, brewed using beans from plantations on the Boloven Plateau
souvenirs form Laos
- cotton or silk fabrics
- handmade shirts
- wood carvings
- silver jewellery
- clay pitchers and basketwork
- Pha sin (Lao sarongs)
- hill tribe bags
- coffee and tea
- sǎa (mulberry bark paper)
How are you?: Sa bai di bo?
Thank you: Sa bai di bo
What is your name?: Sa bai di bo?
How much is it?: La kha the a dai?
Sorry: kho othd