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Laos Pictures
Southeast Asia Photos

 

 

Laos temple in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, Wat Wisunalat in Laos.

 

Laos Travel Guide | Laos Map | Asia Map | Laos Visas | Weather

 

Laos Pictures: Luang Prabang | Vang Vieng | Phonsavan

 

Buddhist Laos - officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic - is not an easy, well-trod destination and still has a pioneering feel about it for the traveller willing to abandon some of the niceties of modern life - such as air conditioning, efficient domestic airlines and smooth highways, though in the latter case and some other respects things are rapidly improving.

Tourist visas are now available at border crossings, which is especially useful for backpackers in Thailand and Vietnam, while potential destinations have proliferated. More.

In exchange for a little bit of rough, travellers in Laos will find they can really communicate with local people, see sights that are not choked with tourist buses and get around at prices that are incredibly low by Asian standards.
Catch it while you can.

 

Upsides

• It's a very low cost destination. Cheaper than neighbouring Thailand, you can easily get by on a small budget.

The people are very, very pleasant. They don't hassle tourists and - so far - have not fallen slave to the dollar, making Laos a relaxing country to travel and take pictures in.

The food is a tasty fusion of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese with a quirky French colonial influence, seen mostly in excellent bakeries and coffee shops.

Wildlife is abundant due to lack of development and human interference, with plenty of colourful and varied monkeys, deer, mid-size cats, flying squirrels, bats, snakes, birds and even wild elephants. North Laos' Nam Ha NPA is probably the best spot for wildlife watching at present.

The accommodation situation in the main tourist areas is very good, excellent value for money.

The airlines are pretty safe despite reports to the contrary, though timetables are often not adhered to.

The country, on the whole, is very unspoilt, reminiscent of Thailand around 30 years ago. However there is increasingly a backpacker trail that enters Laos from its north-west border with Thailand and goes through Luang Prabang, heading south via Vang Vieng and on to Vientiane.
Travellers abandoning this main route find things quickly become even less touristy but at the same time places are less geared up to supply normal western needs.

Traditional Lao massages are amazing value and the best quality you will find anywhere.

 

 

Planting rice, Luang Prabang, Laos

 

Downsides

Travel by road can be very time consuming. A few strategically chosen local flights can save many hours, if not days.

Bear in mind in the rainy season that it really rains... or is, at best, very cloudy, which is not good for quality travel pictures.

There are no really big sites to rival Cambodia's Angkor Wat or some of the big draw sites in Thailand. However Laos makes up in terms of the unspoilt scenery both in the north and south of the country.

 

Weather

November-February (the cool, dry season, with good festivals) OK: March-May (dry but very hot). Worst: June-Oct (rains), and when it rains in South-East Asia, it rains a lot, none of this one hour a day sissy precipitation, constant downpour is the way to flood a paddy field.

 

Currency

The Kip is Laos money but US dollars and Thai Bhat are widely accepted in restaurants and shops. If you wish to change your cash to Laos currency do it in local banks where the rate will be far superior to hotel exchange desks and also much better value than getting cash from ATMs.

 

Getting there

Internationally most flights from USA or Europe will travel via Thailand's Bangkok or other Southeast Asia capital cities, so you'll probably need to overnight in Bangkok. That won't be a hardship!
It's also possible to get to Laos overland via the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge though you cannot walk or bike across. However shuttle buses do the run frequently and will carry bikes. There are also direct buses from Nong Khai and Udon Thani in Thailand arriving at the Morning Market bus terminal. There is also a direct bus from Hanoi that takes 20 hours.

 

 

Visas

All visitors to Laos need a visa except Japanese and ASEAN visitors. You will need a passport with at least 6 month's validity remaining.
Carefully check your Laos visa stamp on arrival or departure to ensure you have received a correctly dated entry/exit stamp.
A tourist visa, business visa and any others Laos visa are available from the Laos Embassy in your country or a country near you. Alternatively, you can get a visa on arrival for 30 days at most border crossings and international airports but ensure you have 2 passport-size photos and some US dollars or Thai Bahts.

 

 

Vientiane Pictures >>>

 

Laos Travel Guide | Laos Map | Asia Map

 

Laos Pictures: Luang Prabang | Vang Vieng | Phonsavan

 

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