Planning a Trip to Laos
Best time to travel
The dry season in Laos is considered to be the best time to travel to the country as the weather will be most cooperative and the temperatures tend to be a bit cooler than they are during the rainy and hot seasons. Dry (high) season generally lasts from November through March. Though the shoulder season (July and August) can also prove to be an excellent time to visit. Though this time of year is the beginning of the wet season in Laos, the true deluge will not have begun yet and the beginning of the rain mean emerald-green landscapes and stunning views.
Exchange rate and currency
The currency in Myanmar is Kip.
1 Kip = .00012USD
Budget travelers: Up to $50/day
Mid-range travelers: Up to $100/day
Top-end travelers: $150+/day
30 day tourist visas are available on arrival in Laos and cost approximately $35.
Traveling around Myanmar
It is relatively easy to travel through Laos using various forms of public transportation. However, one should always be flexible with time as journeys can take much longer than anticipated. Here is some general information about the different modes of transportation that can be found in Laos:
Flights travel frequently between major cities and tourist destinations in Laos due to the extensive domestic flight network in the country. The schedules tend to be reliable and traveling by air can save a great deal of time though it will cost a bit more money.
Bus travel is inexpensive in Laos, but can be very unreliable. The advertised travel times are often incorrect and the schedules are often undependable as well. Though there are a few reputable companies that run between major cities, many bus companies use very old vehicles.
Car travel (private taxi) is a fast, efficient, and reliable way to travel overland in Laos, if you have the budget for it.
Boats run frequently between major cities and tourist destinations on any one of the many rivers that run through the country. Though boat travel can be slow, it can also offer some of the best views and most authentic experiences.
Dangers and Annoyances
- Before traveling along Routes 1, 7, and 13, make sure the check in Vientiane or Luang Prabang to make sure that the situation along these routes is safe for traveling foreigners.
- Come equipped with mosquito repellent.
- Though theft is not as common in Laos as it is in neighboring countries, reported incidents of theft have been on the rise in recent years (probably due to a larger influx of tourists). Keep valuables in your hotel room hidden from sight and make sure to lock your bikes and motos. When riding a bicycle, don’t put anything of value in the basket as it’s not uncommon for someone to ride by on a moto and snatch belonging from unsuspecting tourists. Try to not carry loose change in your pockets and make sure to keep an eye on your luggage when traveling on a crowded bus.
- Be wary of the fact that there are a large number of UXOs in Laos. If you are traveling only in major cities and tourist hubs, you should be fine. If you plan to do any exploring or trekking through the jungles and the wilderness, either take a guide or make sure you’re following an approved route or a marked path.
- As long as you stay away from illegal activity, you should have little to no interaction with law enforcement. That being said, there have been a large number of foreign arrests, detainments, and deportations in Laos mostly due to drug possession and the use of prostitutes. Hefty fines can also serve as a penalty in these situations. If you are detained, ask to call your embassy or consulate in Laos, often times a conversation between local law enforcement and your embassy/consulate will result in a faster solution to the problem at hand. For petty offences, police are often happy to take a small bribe.
Anyone traveling from Africa or South America within six days of entering Myanmar will be asked to provide proof of a yellow-fever vaccination. The World Health Organization also recommends the following vaccines:
- Adult diptheria
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Measles, mumps, and Rubella
For long-term travelers:
- Japanese B Encephalitis
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