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About Lao

About Lao

Description

General Information

 

Laos is one of Southeast Asia's least developed and least populated countries. The mighty Mekong River is at its heart, and flows through most of the major towns and cities you will visit. A strong Buddhist culture pervades, and the sight of glittering golden temples and monks collecting alms add to the country's beauty, serenity and undeniable allure.

Tourism in Laos is somewhat developed and there are luxury lodgings and wonderful eateries, yet patience is still required and the pace or style of service may be different to what you are used to. It is important to remain calm in any dealings with Lao people, as displays of anger are rare and frowned upon in Lao culture.

 

 

 

What to Expect

 

Landlocked Laos is a predominantly rural country, with the Mekong River flowing through it. Mountains, rivers and farmlands dominate, and while the cities and towns offer creature comforts, Laos is overall quite undeveloped compared to its neighbours, Vietnam and Thailand.

A strong Buddhist culture pervades, and you can expect to see monks collecting alms, glittering temples, fascinating monuments and a charming blend of French-colonial and Laotian architecture.

The people in Laos are warm and welcoming, and you may encounter monks keen to practice their English with you. While certain hotels and restaurants are comparable to Western standards, service may be different to what you are used to. It is important to remain calm and patient in your interactions in Laos.

 

 

 

Flight Times

 

From Australia: Flight times range from 12 hours (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth) to 15 hours (Adelaide, Brisbane)
From New Zealand: 16 hours from Auckland
From UK: 16 hours from London
From USA: Flight times range from 18 hours (Los Angeles) to 21 hours (New York)

 

 

Events

 

  • 1 January is a public holiday celebrating New Year's Day. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 8 March is International Women's Day, where Lao women are honoured with celebrations in homes and offices. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • 13-15 April is Buddhist New Year in Laos, considered the most important celebration of the year. It is marked by throwing buckets of water on the streets, fairs, processions and cultural shows. Banks, public offices and many businesses will be closed, along with some wats and museums in major centres.
  • 1 May is International Labour Day, honouring the contribution of workers. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • August/September - A Boat Racing Festival is held in Luang Prabang. Some streets along the Mekong are blocked, and hotels are heavily booked. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed Replica Rolex Watches UK.
  • 12 October is Liberation Day, commemorating the end of war in Laos in 1975 and the victory of the Pathet Lao. Banks will be open, but public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • Mid-October - A Boat Racing Festival is held in Vientiane. Some streets along the Mekong are blocked, and hotels are heavily booked. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
  • November (first full moon) - The That Luang Festival is held in Vientiane, an annual religious festival spanning three days and nights. Thousands of monks descend on the capital for the festivities.
  • 2 December is National Day, a public holiday commemorating the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1975. Banks, public offices and many businesses will be closed, along with some wats and museums in major centres.
  • 24 December to 3 January is the International New Year period. Most banks and public offices are usually only closed on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

 

 

 

Weather or Climate

 

Laos can be visited year-round. The ‘wet’ season, from May to October, is very warm in the tropical lowlands, while the mountains remain cooler. Rain is usually in the form of sporadic showers and rarely affects travel, although overland road travel in some remote regions may not be possible. Many travellers prefer Laos at this time of year as there are fewer tourists, and the landscape is lush and green. In the north it can get quite cool in the evenings between November and February.

Climate

Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons.

May – October: Rainy season

November – April: Dry season Replica Watches Rolex UK

March – April: Hottest months - temperatures can reach as high as 38°C/100F

December: Lowest temperatures around 15°C/59F

The average temperature is between 25°C/77F and 30°C/84F

 

 

 

Money and Local Exchange

 

The official currency of Laos is the kip. Major travelers checks can be cashed at banks. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and a limited number of upscale shopping establishments. ATMs accept Visa, Mastercard and several cards with inter-bank access, and dispense kip notes. Thai baht and US dollars are generally accepted in larger urban centers. 

Currency 
Lao Kip (LAK; symbol S65;) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of S65;50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500. 

Currency Exchange 
The best currencies to use when exchanging money are: US Dollars, Euros and Thai Baht. You can exchange your currency at the bank, airport, or at a foreign currency exchange office.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs 
Major credit cards are accepted in the more upmarket hotels and restaurants only in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. ATMs are slowly being introduced, particularly in Vientiane, but do not rely on them.

Traveller's Cheques 
Limited acceptance and often with a hefty commission charge. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Thai Baht.

Currency Restrictions 
Restrictions apply.                        

Banking Hours 
Mon-Fri 0830-1600. Some banks remain open during lunch

 

 

 

Health and Safety

 

Laos is generally a safe country, but the usual common sense precautions apply. Cities are small, and even at night you will feel quite safe walking outside. Most Laotians go to bed fairly early so streets will usually be very quiet after 9pm; there is a government-imposed curfew which requires all businesses to close by midnight.

Uneven surfaces and potholes are common on Lao streets, so always watch where you walk. We recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible and keep your spending money close to your body. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show taxi drivers.

Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers, and a detailed record of your traveller's cheques in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible. For more information or to read our full safety guidelines

Travelling to destinations that Explore Vanishing Culture operates in is generally an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience.  Nevertheless, it is important to understand that some of the risks you may face may be different to those encountered in your home country.  Whilst we cannot identify all of the risks you may face when travelling in Asia, some of the key ones are outlined below:

  • Local medical facilities and general public service infrastructure may not be up to the same standard as in developed countries.
  • Natural events such as storms, floods and earthquakes can occur anywhere in the world. In lesser developed countries, such as many of the countries where Travel Indochina operates, local responses by government and non-government agencies and the availability of services following such a catastrophic event may not be the same as those you might expect in a developed country.
  • Road conditions, volume of traffic and respect for road rules is often not the same as those you might expect in a developed country.
  • Whilst the great majority of all interactions you may have with local people in Asia is positive, there is still a small risk that some people may prey on the vulnerability of travellers.
  • Laws and their application may vary considerably in our countries of operation and may be quite different from those of your home country. Ignorance of a law is not usually accepted as a valid defence if you breach local laws.

Vietland Holidays takes all reasonable steps to minimise the risk faced by our travellers, guides and tour leaders. Please read on to see just a few of the things we do to reduce risk and some of the things you can do to manage these risks yourself.

What Explore Vanishing Culture Travel does to reduce risks

Explore Vanishing Culture takes its responsibilities to our travelers seriously and takes many steps to reduce the risks which our travelers, guides and tour leaders may face. A few of the key things we do include:

  • We recommend restaurants that have a good reputation for hygiene
  • We recommend health care providers that have a good reputation for their level of care
  • Tour Leaders carry a First Aid Kit on our Small Group Journeys and all have had First Aid training
  • Ask our clients to declare their health and fitness condition and any pre-existing issues prior to commencing a journey with us so we can tailor activities to their appropriate fitness level
  • Structure itineraries to allow regular rest stops for drivers, appropriate levels of driving time in any one day and avoidance of road travel after dark. Sometimes this impacts on the itinerary, but we put safety first.
  • Provide specific road safety awareness training to our staff, local guides and tour leaders in Vietnam and also broader health and safety awareness training
  • Ask hotels to complete regular self evaluation fire, health and safety questionnaires as well as conducting our own spot checks on fire safety during each year.
  • We select suppliers not just based on best price but with appropriate consideration to their approach to health and safety
  • Ask all our suppliers to sign a ‘Supplier Agreement’ annually that outlines our expectations in regards to service levels, health and safety.
  • We conduct regular emergency training sessions amongst our teams in Asia as well as conducting surprise ‘trial run’ scenarios to test our team’s response to emergency situations.
  • Conduct regular insurance audits of our hotel and transport suppliers to ensure they hold adequate insurance as per the applicable laws in each country.
  • Provide all tour leaders and local guides with safety check-lists which to be used before using any vehicle or boat with our clients.
  • Ensure all our hotels, boat operators, other suppliers, drivers and guides are correctly licensed and authorised to carry out their business according to local regulations where possible.
  • Our Responsible Travel policy endorses the UN’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. We specifically oppose exploitation of children or sex tourism and have a zero tolerance policy to these issues among our staff and suppliers
  • Boats - Explore Vanshing Culture heed local authority advice and operator concerns as local authorities and boat operators are experts on the weather conditions likely to be encountered while on a boat trip. At times they may decide that it is not safe to operate the cruise as scheduled and alternative arrangements will be made. Our travel agent has no control over these situations.
     
     
     

     

     

    Travel Insurance

     

    Explore Vanishing Culture will do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, certain risks are involved and should be recognized by participants. Thus, we require all guests to purchase travel insurance prior to their trip. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment in the event of problems due to cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind for your trip.

    Travel insurance is intended to cover medical extenses and finacial ( Such as money invested in non refundable pre-payments) and other losses incurred while traveling. It is also mandatory to obtain visas to a number of destinations, such as Europe, Australia , or USA for instance.

    If you plan a trip abroad and do not have a personal insurance , please contact us and we shall arrange temperary travel insurance at the time of booking of your trip to cover exactly its duration, or a more intensive , continuos insurance.

     
     
     

     

     

    Cuisine, Special Dietary Requests and Drinking Water

     

    Laos’ cuisine is similar to that of Thailand and offers a variety of national dishes. Like all other Buddhist countries, vegetarian food is readily available in most restaurants.

     If you are a vegetarian, vegan, allergic to any foods or adhere to a special diet, please advise us prior to your trip so we can comply with your dietary requirements.

     It is not advisable to drink tap water in any South East Asian countries. Bottled water is recommended but do check the expiry date before opening it. Ice is widely used in Laos and it is produced with treated water.

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