Travelling in Laos

What you need to know.

Getting to Laos

Laos boasts international land crossings with Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China and international flight connections to Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Vietnam.

Passport

You’ll need a passport with at least six months of validity remaining to enter Laos.

Visas

Apart from getting visa of Lao PDR through traditional ways at Embassy or Consulates, travelers of most nationals can now obtain Lao visa upon arrival – at International airport of Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse, and at various border crossing points with the neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and China.

Normal entry tourist visa is valid for 30 days.

Airports

Laos has three international airports: Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang and Pakse International Airport in Pakse.

Airlines

The Lao national carrier is Lao Airlines. It flies international as well as domestic routes. A second domestic carrier, Lao Air, flies a restricted number of domestic routes.

A number of international carriers now fly to Laos, including:

Air Asia
 – Bangkok Airways – 
China Southern – 
THAI 
Vietnam – Airlines

Getting Around

From Vientiane, you can reach Khammouane by bus in 5-6 hours. Travel agents in Vientiane can arrange transportation. For independent travelers, go to the Southern Bus Terminal and take either a direct bus to the province or board any bus heading south to Savannakhet or Champasak Province’s and ask to get off at Thakaek. Schedules and prices are subject to change, so please check departure times and prices with a travel agent prior to your trip. You can also enter Thakaek from Thailand’s Nakhon Phanom Province via the Friendship Bridge. Visas on arrival are available.

Tuk-tuks, motorized tricycles (lot-sam-lo) and “jumbos” (pickup trucks with benches) are available all over town and offer an easy way to get around. You can hire taxis, mini-buses, and riverboats through guesthouses, hotels, tour operators, and the provincial Visitor Information Centers in Thakhaek and Khoun Kham. You can also rent bicycles for about USD1-2 per day. For guided tours, contact the Khammouane Visitor Information Center on Vientiane Road near the Governor’s Office or one of the larger tour operators in town or Vientiane.

Health

• Laos is a tropical country where dengue fever that is caused by mosquitoes is common. Avoid mosquito bites and you will be fine. Bring mosquito repellent with you or buy some in Laos, it is cheap and available in all markets and pharmacies. Wear light coloured clothing with long sleeves and make sure you are covered well at night. Dengue mosquitoes bite in the day, so if you have an afternoon nap, make sure you sleep under a net. In fact nets are a good idea at all times, particularly if you are travelling in the country.

• Usually water and ice-cubes that are served to you in restaurants in the cities are safe for consumption. However, tap water in Laos is not safe to drink. Locals in remote areas of Laos drink water from wells or rivers; some boil their drinking water some don’t. When/if they offer you water, politely accept it, but you don’t have to drink it.

• Even though bottled water is reasonably cheap and readily available everywhere in town, it might not be the case in the remote areas. It is wise to buy some in town and carry with you if you travel out to such areas.

• Carry some snacks when traveling to remote areas in Laos as you might not spot any restaurant on your way.

• Avoid any food that you think has been cooked for a long time and has been sitting around (such as grilled meats in markets). Always opt for freshly cooked food or soup.