Laos is very well-known for its laid back atmosphere, friendly people and astonishing picturesque views. Despite being the only country in Asia that has really minimal temples to visit, Laos PDR promises the experience like no other. I am grateful to be given the chance to truly explore Laos PDR from its capital city – Vientiane to Vang Vieng , the once-used-to-be party town and it’s northern hemisphere, the scenic UNESCO Heritage city , Luang Prabang.
It is the people I met and the simple welcoming gestures that truly capture my heart to truly venture into exploring Laos PDR. Below are some of the tips that I believe would be useful for you travel enthusiasts out there who are keen to explore Laos PDR.
- Hello is Sabaidee. It is normal for strangers to greet you on the street, do return the favour.
- Thank you is Kop Chai, but if you are truly happy with the service or the treatment, Kop Chai Lai Lai is very most welcomed. By adding Lai Lai , you are saying Thank you very much.
- A preferable drinking water brand is Tiger Head. Do not drink straight from the tab. That said, if you are hiking or jungle tracking, bring a water neutralizer.
- It is normal to be scammed on your transportation in Laos. You may be given a minivan instead of the VIP Bus that you paid for. The best way is to really ask around, usually most tour agents in the town is sharing the same transport provider.
- Do you opt for night travel if you are traveling to Northern provinces as Laos’ Northern Provinces are largely made out of mountain. This will give you the opportunity to star-gaze in total darkness as the bus climb up the highway that is high up on the mountain.
- Do try the baguette in Laos; it is available everywhere with a variety of fillings to choose from. Do note that baguette in central Laos is lighter compared to the ones in the northern area. You may find differences in term of texture and taste.
- There is an exit fee of USD 1 or 10, 000 KIP if you exit overland from Laos PDR.
- Rent a bungalow overlooking the river in Vang Vieng, it is an experience like no other. It is also one of the cheapest options for accommodation. Price starts from 20,000 KIP to 200, 000 KIP (USD 2 to USD 20).
- Do not be at the riverbank of Mekong River in Vientiane at night. There have been cases reported of undercover police asking for 1million KIP bribery.
- There are curfews for towns in Laos PDR, ask the local or your hotel/hostel about it. Please adhere to the curfew time.
- Tuk tuk in Laos will quote your price for the whole vehicle, not per person. It is best to share your tuk tuk transportation with other people.
- In Vientiane, there is a park called Buddha Park. It is possible to get there via the local bus. Albeit a little bit grubby with the road conditions, it is an experience on its own! Take local bus from the bus station and you will need to exchange at the Thanaleng border to a smaller bus. Price is 8000KiP one way.
- ATM is available in major towns, the preferred bank is called Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) . The ATMs are in blue and red.
- When the French invaded Laos PDR eon years ago, they left a legacy; their pastries. Do try croissant, breads and cookies in some of the many bakeries in Laos PDR. A notable one is Joma Bakery in Luang Prabang, I would recommend their Mango crumbs!
- Hiking and jungle trekking is popular in Laos but do follow the path stated or follow the instruction from your guide. This is because Laos is still largely infested with UXO or Landmine from the previous war between the American and the Khmer Rouge. It is said that there are about 7.5 million UXOs that are still buried in many of Laos’ provinces especially in the south.
- Mekong river fish is abundant in Laos, it is fresh and sweet. Do try it out at the local restaurants. Price range from 25, 000 KIP to 50, 000 KIP. The best ones are usually by the riverside.
- Laos are relatively safe but keep an eye on your travel, just in case- accident or unwanted incident bound to happen.
- Don’t try the weed in Laos despite the fact that people smoke it freely there, God Knows what will happen if you get caught!
- Bring USD or EURO instead of your local currency such as Malaysian Ringgit (RM), considering that I couldn’t change my money when I was in northern area except for my USD.
- Visa or Mastercard or any other major credit or debit cards are easily accepted in Laos but most places will charge you 3% extra for payment with credit card or debit card. Remember to active your overseas spending and your limit reach.
If there is one thing I would really suggest you do in Laos is to lay back and enjoy the journey. This is the only country that I am sure you would not be constantly harassed or forced to buy stuffs. Laos PDR has taught me to truly appreciate life at a slower pace. Just like her name LAOS PDR – Please Don’t Rush.