Before the trip to Laos
Passport, Visa and Customs
Visas are required when traveling to Laos. At most border crossings, it is possible to obtain a visa for 30 days on site. The application requires a passport that is valid for at least six months after entering the country, two passport photos in color and 36 USD in cash. On the plane to Laos you get entry and customs forms to be filled in. When you enter the country, make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport.
Vaccinations and health
At the time of writing, no mandatory vaccinations are required for entry into Laos. However, we recommend that you review your basic protection against diphtheria, polio and tetanus. In addition, some vaccination is needed, such as Havrix, against Hepatitis A. Feel free to consult a vaccination center or your local health center for advice at least one month before departure. Malaria prophylaxis may be relevant if you are going to certain areas. You should also have comprehensive travel insurance that includes ambulance transport to Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, where you can get adequate treatment. Contact your insurance company for more information. Remember to bring documentation on current travel / health insurance. Feel free to bring a small set of “first aid” with patches, headache tablets, etc. Stomach upset and diarrhea usually occur due to contaminated water. Do not drink tap water. You should also avoid ice, for example in drinks. Bottled mineral water is available for purchase in most places. Use mosquito repellent, especially in highland terrain and in forest areas.
Weather and clothing
Laos has a tropical climate with three seasons. November to February is a cool and dry period (about 20 -25 degrees); from March to June it is hot and quite dry (about 35 degrees); from June to early October it is rainy season, the rain falls mostly in the afternoons and evenings (about 25-30 degrees). During the warm periods, light cotton clothes and a sun hat are recommended, during the winter period you should bring a warm sweater or jacket for evening wear. Keep in mind that during certain temple visits, you should cover your shoulders and knees. There you should also take off your shoes.
Currency and exchange rate
The local currency is the Laotian kip (LAK). The currency can not be bought in Sweden. In the capital Vientiane you can exchange most major currencies, but in the rest of the country only US dollars are accepted, sometimes Thai Baht and Euro. Blackmail is forbidden and you are easily fooled. It is good to bring US dollar banknotes in lower denominations for tipping and div. small purchases in markets and the like. There are a number of ATMs in the major cities. In some larger hotels and shops in the big cities, it is possible to pay with a VISA card, but they usually charge a fee of 3%.
Transport and communications
Tourists are usually transported by buses, minibuses or cars, usually with air conditioning. The postal service works well, postage is cheap. The mobile network is poorly developed. Standard telephone connections work well; easiest is to buy calling cards and calling from post offices or telephone booths because it is very expensive to call from hotels. Also keep in mind that it can be expensive to receive calls from Sweden on your mobile. There is internet in the hotels in the big cities and some internet cafes.
Security The security
situation for travelers in Laos is relatively good. Crime in Vientiane and the rest of Laos is low. Bag and pocket thefts occur despite this. Watch out for traffic because it is more chaotic than we are used to. Be careful how you store your passport and always have a couple of copies of your passport in different bags. Also bring a copy of your visa to Laos.
Food & beverage
Laotian cuisine is quite similar to Thai cuisine. Fresh lake fish is very good and is often served. Other Asian food is found in most places, but Western food is only found in the larger cities.
Shopping and gifts
You can find a lot of good craft products in different markets. Silk and embroidery, metalwork and wood carving are most common. Silver, paperwork and baskets are also typical souvenirs.
General and mixed
Local time: Laos is 6 hours ahead of us in Sweden. In summer, the difference is only 5 hours.
Electricity: 220/230 volts, 50 Hz. Adapter may be needed.
Baggage: It sometimes happens that the checked baggage gets lost. Therefore, pack important medicines with a certificate from your doctor in your hand luggage. The same goes for valuables.
Language: Lao is the official language. Despite a past as a French colony, more people speak English, but only in the capital Vientiane and in major tourist destinations.
Tips: Not expected but appreciated.
Travel insurance: Check what and which countries your home insurance or your card insurance covers.