After years of war and isolation, Southeast Asia’s most pristine environment, intact cultures and quite possibly the most chilled – out people on earth mean destination Laos is fast earning cult status among travelers. Active Travel Laos (http://www.activetravellaos.com ) shows some travel tips and advice in Laos.
Laos is a country that offers plenty of challenging terrain, interesting sites and activities for the adventurous. You can kayak or go boating down the Mekong, trek through jungles atop an elephant, go exploring and even rock-climbing in limestone caves, hike mountains in search of remote and ancient temple ruins or camp out in wildlife conservation parks.
Below on this Laos Country Guide is some useful travel information for visitors contemplating a trip to Laos, including suggestions on where and when to go, visa requirements, money used, information about Laos food and drink as well as a handy Travellers' Dos and Don'ts list.
Traveller Dos and Don'ts
- Do dress modestly when entering temples, museums, official buildings and government offices; no shorts or sleeveless shirts, tank tops or beach wear. Shorts that cover the thighs are acceptable everywhere else. Be clean and neat in appearance whenever possible.
- Do like the locals and keep your sense of time flexible. Expecting punctuality will often lead to frustration.
- Do remove shoes when entering temples and homes (it is convenient to wear slip-ons or sandals)
- Don't point your feet towards people or Buddha images. When sitting in a temple, keep legs together and to the side in a mermaid position.
- Do consider leaving a small donation when visiting temples.
- Don't take pictures posing with Buddha images, handle, climb or sit on them.
- Don't, if you are a woman, touch monks, hand them objects, sit with or talk to them outside of temples. Any offerings need to pass through the hands of a man first.
- Do ask permission before taking pictures of people, particularly in villages outside the cities where the people may have superstitions against being photographed.
- Don't touch people or children on their heads.
- Don't lose your temper in public - speaking loudly and angrily is often counterproductive.
- Don't engage in public displays of affection.
- Do greet someone who is greeting you - by nop, handshake or a polite bow and smile - but don't offer a kiss!
- Do respect the Laos' interpersonal space - there is little physical contact or closeness between individuals who are not family.
- Don't be surprised if someone goes right past you to get to something first - Laos generally do not queue up for anything.
- Do bargain for goods in markets and shops (except where there are fixed prices) but do so with a good attitude and smile. Prices are generally not inordinately high to begin with as they may be in other Asian cities.
Visas and Passports
Passport with at least six months remaining validity required by everyone who enters Laos.
Required by all nationals from the UK, Australia, Canada, USA and EU countries.
Visa requirements are subject to change and you should check with your embassy to check the latest visa requirements.
Visas on arrival are for 30 days for most nationalities and this can be extended a max of two times for up to 30 days each time.
The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that visas can be issued upon arrival in Laos to tourists at the following ports of entry: Wattay Airport in Vientiane; Pakse and Luang Prabang Airports; Friendship Bridges in Vientiane and Savannakhet; and land-border crossings at Boten, Huay Xai and Chong Mek.
Visa cost ranges from $20 (China) to $42 (Canada). Sweden is $31, $35 for the USA, UK and most of Europe, $40 for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and $30 for Australia. The full list is on display at the Visa Application window.
All visas are issued for single entry and must be used within two months of date of issue.
Applications to: Consulate (or consular section at embassy) or an officially recognized tour operator. A visa valid for Laos can also be obtained from travel agencies in Bangkok (Thailand) or on arrival.
Active Travel Laos (http://www.activetravellaos.com/) is member of ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA offers a wide selection of Laos adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, kayaking, biking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages. The travel packages and custom itineraries will take travelers through exotic destinations to really experience the culture, history and nature of Laos.