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Make sure you practice your ‘nop’…

This hidden gem of a country has only recently opened its doors to tourism and remains largely untouched by modern developments.

In the capital, Vientiane, you’ll discover mostly traditional and colonial architecture, while the mountainous, jungle-covered countryside is studded with Buddhist temples and impressive monuments.

 

Culture and history

Laos, officially known as the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is one of the world's few remaining communist states and is also one of the poorest countries in southeast Asia.

The Lao people greet one another with a prayer-like gesture called a ‘nop’.

You should be aware that photographing military sites, including bridges and airfields, is not allowed in Laos and can result in arrest or detention.

When visiting temples and religious sites, you are expected to wear suitable clothing and to be respectful of the Lao culture. For example, you should not photograph monks in or around the temples. Women should also cover their shoulders, including when swimming in waterfalls.

Flight time

The flight from London to Luang Prabang takes about 13 hours 40 minutes.

Currency

Kip - The Lao Kip (LAK) is divided into 100 cents with notes for 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Kip.

Passports and visas

It’s a legal requirement in Laos to carry ID (your passport should be fine) and you could be fined for not having it with you.

You will also need a tourist visa to enter, but we’ll arrange this for you as part of your holiday booking.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

A few words of Lao

Good morning – ton sao thi di

Good afternoon – ton bait hi di

Thank you – kho khob chai than

Hello – sa bai di

Yes – aemn aelv

No – b mi

Timezone

Laos is 7 hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity

All sockets take small round two-pin plugs so you’ll need an adaptor to run most British appliances.

Language

French - The official language is Lao, although many tribal languages are spoken here too. In places, French, Vietnamese and English are also spoken.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary as a service charge is usually included in restaurants bills.

If it hasn’t been included, a tip of 10% of the bill is appreciated.

Climate

The climate is mostly hot and tropical, reaching a peak during the rainy season between May and October.

If you’re venturing into the mountains, temperatures will be much cooler, especially during the night.

Health

Water borne, food borne and other infectious diseases, such as typhoid fever, do occur from time to time.

You should also be aware that flying insects, such as mosquitoes, are common in this part of the world; you may find it helpful to wear long-sleeved shirts, full-length trousers and use mosquito repellent.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

The population of Laos is just under 7 million, with around 80% of them living in rural villages.

Landlocked in South East Asia, Laos covers an area of around 236,800 square kilometres, which makes it a little smaller than the United Kingdom.

Smoking

Smoking in public places is now banned and fines are considerable.