The landlocked nation, Laos is nestled in the Southeast Asia which is bordered by thee Burma and china from the northwest side, Cambodia from the southern direction. Vietnam and Thailand are on the east and west sides of the Laos. The country is vested on total 236,8000 sq km area. Divided into the 16 provinces & Vientiane capital, the nation is under the political frame work of the socialist republic, which is based on the single party system. Around 69 per cent of the nation’s people are from the ethnic Lao class. With 0.601 HDDI value, Laos has been positioned on 1330th rank out of the total 177 nations.
- Population: 6.2 million.
- Density: 23 people/square kilometer.
- The population consists of 49 ethnic groups, in 4 main linguistic.
The official language is Lao. Other languages used are French, English. Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.
Today, Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of about 90% of Lao people. Buddhism is an inherent feature of daily life and casts a strong influence on Lao society. Lao woman can be seen each morning giving alms to monks, earning merit to lessen the number of their rebirths. It is expected that every Lao man will become a monk for at least a short time in his life.
The local currency is the KIP. Travelers can make an exchange either at licensed exchange shops in the major cities or at the major hotel.
Visa is the most common. Master Card and American Express are accepted at most banks in the larger towns (such as Vientiane and Luang Prabang), and in the big hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Electricity is available in most cities for 24 hours, but in the remote areas from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. only. It is recommended to carry a flashlight. Voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz.
Antique items for example Buddha images and other old artefacts are prohibited to be taken out of Laos. If you have already travelled from neighbouring countries, you are advised to declare you belongings to the customs to avoid any problems when leaving Laos. It is prohibited for any visitor to bring into Lao the followings:
- Weapons, explosives and inflammable objects.
- Opium and other narcotics.
- Cultural materials unsuitable to Vietnamese society.
Although not obligatory, tipping is widely practiced in hotels and restaurants. In addition to the service charges shown on bills, most people would leave some extra in the tray.
Getting around Laos is getting more and more convenient each year following major road and airport upgrades.
Lao Airlines has flights to many domestic destinations and a number of regional capitals. The international airports in Vientiane, Pakse, Savannakhet and Luang Prabang have regular service to major cities in the region. From Wattay in Vientiane you can reach Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kunming. Direct flights are available to Luang Prabang from Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Hanoi.
Another way to travel around Laos is on the Mekong River or one of its many tributaries. Luang Prabang is commonly access by riverboat from Houi Xay, and if you are heading north to Luang Namtha a two-day journey on the Namtha River is a memorable adventure that takes you through lush forest and requires an overnight stay in your boatmen’s home. There is regular boat service on the Mekong from Pakse to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Vat Phou and throughout the Four Thousand Islands in the far south.
A train operates daily between the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (Vientiane Capital) and Nongkhai (Thailand) connecting Laos to Thailand.
Sending post from Laos is not all that expensive and is fairly reliable, but people still tend to wait until they go to Thailand to end parcels. Note that there is no home mail-delivery service in Laos, you need to rent a post-office box. Throughout the country you can recognize post offices by the color scheme: mustard yellow with white trim.
Internet is available at most of hotels and also internet café is available at big city.
Telephone & Mobile
Laos has come a long way in a short time on the telephone front. While most Laos people are still not connected, the introduction of mobile phones and, in recent years, WIN phones (fixed satellite phones without a landline).
Lao Telecom and several private companies offer mobile phone services on the GSM and 3G systems. You can buy a local simcard for as little as 10,000K from almost everywhere.
International airport tax and domestic airport tax included in the airfare.
Food & Beverages
Rice is the staple of Laotian food. Lap is a traditional dish. It consists of minced meat accompanied by citronella, onions, and spices and mixed with a fish sauce and roasted rice. Lap means “happiness and luck”. The sticky rice is always served with the hot sauce or a spicy fish or shrimp based sauce.