Still considered a little bit off the beaten track to travellers of Asia, Laos offers more of a quiet vibe compared to it’s extremely popular neighbours. But it’s not to be overlooked and is absolutely one of the most charming and beautiful countries along the Southeast Asia trail.
When To Visit: The dry season, between November and May each year is the best time to visit Luang Prabang. Within the dry season you will find the best weather between November and January, which is when most people visit.
Language: The official language of Laos is Lao. It is common for many of the locals to speak and at the very least understand English – including tuk tuk drivers, people working in hotels and restaurants and locals with market stands, making it easy to communicate even if there is a language barrier.
International Airport: There are a few international airports around Laos, with the main ones being Wattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane and Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ).
Internet Access: Internet Access in Laos is a little slower than other places in Southeast Asia, but still definitely manageable. Most hotels and restaurants will offer free wifi, just ask for the password. Often we found the internet was strong enough to send and receive messages and open a couple of things on social media, but might take a little longer to load a whole feed to scroll through or to stream anything.
Time Zone: Laos follows the Indochina Time Zone GMT + 7.
Currency:The currency in Laos is Lao Kip LAK. At that time of writing, $1AUD converts to 6,016LAK, $1USD converts to 8,688LAK and £1GBP converts to 11,014LAK.
Credit Cards & ATMs:Credit and debit cards are accepted at some places but certainly not all. It is a good idea to carry cash on you at all times in case there are no eftpos facilities. It is also unlikely for local attractions to accept credit and debit cards.
Driving: Always drive on the right side of the road in Laos. Local drivers in Laos can often ignore the lanes and what side of the road to drive on though, so make sure you’re aware of other drivers around you.
Power: In Laos the power plugs and sockets are of type A, B, C, E and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Visa Requirements: Australian passport holders visiting Laos require a tourist visa to enter the country. You can apply for a visa before departing Australia from the Embassy of Laos in Canberra by sending in your passport, the visa form (which you can download from the Laos Embassy Website), the visa fee of $45 USD per person and a postage paid pre-addressed envelope for them to send you passport back. The turn around is generally less than 4 business days.
Alternatively, you can purchase a visa on arrival in Laos if you are arriving via the international airport in either Vientaine or Luang Prabang. You will need to bring the consulate fee in USD with you, as well as two passport sized photos for the visa. While many consider this method safer, as you do not have to post your passport, it can result in significant delays at the airport waiting to be processed.