Landlocked by its neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam, Laos is usually visited by travellers making their way through Southeast Asia to get a slower pace. Although overlooked as being a big travel destination, Laos offers quite a bit more to provide than Vang Vieng, with gorgeous mountainous regions, French colonial architecture and Buddhist monasteries simply to name some. Referred to as the unexpected backpacker’s paradise, Laos is much more popular travel destination. Hopefully the following information will help you plan a vacation to Laos!
Visas in Laos: What you need to know
Similarly to Thailand, visas are relatively simple to obtain while on a trip to Laos. Unless you hold a passport from Japan or one from the ASEAN countries, you need a visa to get in Laos but this can be achieved on arrival for $35 USD and it is valid for calendar month. This is limited at Luang Prabang Airport, Pakse Airport and Wattay Airport in Vientiane, so if you feel crossing country borders from Thailand and Vietnam you will have to check if you can aquire them on arrival. Cha Lo in Vietnam enjoys having to arrange a visa before hand which is usually more expensive. If you know you’ll be driving Laos for longer than 1 month, it will be worth getting a 180 day visa before hand or you can extend your visa for approximately 15 days at $2/day on the immigration office before your present visa expires!
Insider Tip: Always check that your particular passport is valid for around six months from the moment of entry into Laos when your visa may be denied! It’s also handy to have some passport photos along with you when you travel as certain areas request them on your visa. A lot of them will turn a blind eye a couple of dollars in case you don’t have one but come prepared and save some!
Popular Routes and What to See
Some from the best places to travel to in Laos aren’t the best to get to, but that’s no problem for you fellow adventures right! Roughing it to create your way by having a country is the better way to explore each place. If you are on really a time limit however, then it's worth doing all your research beforehand. Choose in which you want to go and look for the best, quickest or cheapest solution to get there. Whatever way you travel, you'll be amazed through the stunning scenery that surrounds you, from limestone mountains to dense forests and spectacular waterfalls.
Arguably essentially the most popular place to check out in Laos, the historic capital of scotland - Luang Prabang is really a favourite for several SEA travellers. Once the capital from the Kingdom of Laos, lots of its old charm still remains through its Buddhist temples and monasteries, with monks walking from the streets at sunrise to get their alms. Between having some of one of the most beautiful waterfalls as well as local delicacies in SEA (that are both a serious feat when you’re knowledgeable about Asia!), should you like quirky areas, check out Luang Prabang! As the street your meals are so good and ridiculously cheap, be sure to try the area fried Mekong River moss. It’s what they are noted for! A visit to their magical waterfalls, Kwang Si can be another must! Luang Prabang is stuffed with awesome adventures! Between cycling, exploring waterfalls, or city tours the options are endless.
Although previously called the infamous party destination in Laos, this rural tourist town is slowly rebranding itself being an outdoor destination for everyone. With its stunning limestone karst hills separated because of the winding Nam Song River, travellers are now able to come here to take pleasure from the relaxed atmosphere of nature while kayaking, hiking from the hills or exploring nature’s caves. Of course tubing and partying continues to be an activity to perform here, but it's no longer dangerously crazy plus a large area of travellers come here to understand the landscape in different ways.
Vientiane / Luang Namtha / Si Phan Don/Phu Hin Bun
Although the main town of Laos, the area of Vientiane still supplies a pleasant change of pace for travellers who're used towards the craziness of Bangkok and Hanoi. Located about the Mekong River, Vientiane provides a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere with broad boulevards, tree-lined streets and glittering shines on the go. With so much French influence, the most effective thing to perform is grab a drink and relax, watching the sunset in the river.
Visit probably the most popular attraction the “area of sandalwood,” town’s largest Buddhist stupa, to admire the magnificent reputation this city. Wat Si Muang, is an additional popular site to go to as it is built about the ruins of any Khymer Hindu shrine. Impressive right?
Getting Around Laos
Traveling around Laos is surely an adventure alone! Be prepared to consider the ultimate test of endurance and patience, and embrace the completely random and insufficient timetables. With Route 13 stretching from Luang Prabang for the Cambodian border, you can often obtain a cheap bus transfer for about 100,000 VND ($5 USD) from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. Buses will most likely operate around major towns, provincial hubs and surrounding districts, however expect converted vehicles overloaded and suitable for the small asian frame. You might be lucky with an actual seat that’s not alongside crates of chickens, sloshing buckets of fish or massive sacks of rice! That’s luxury adventure there! Breakdowns are very common so really take the time getting to an area. In more rural areas, Sawngthaews (converted acquire trucks) replace buses, where packing these with as many people as is possible is the norm and kind of your contest! A lot of sawngthaews is only going to leave if they feel they've already enough people to generate it a worthwhile trip. Not to worry though, when you really need to get somewhere, both you and your fellow travellers can hire the motive force for the day! The fares are very cheap this will likely still be a cost-effective option and fewer hassle in case you have little while here.
Budget for Traveling Around Laos
With accommodation and food being amazingly cheap anywhere you decide to go in Laos, transportation will probably be your biggest money drainer. But still it’s no where near expensive! Depending on your traveling style, it is possible to live on an everyday budget of $10-25 USD comfortably, including take a seat meals in restaurants and another or two beers everyday! Although still slightly isolated on the rest in the world, the old-fashioned charm of Laos with it’s laid-back atmosphere and amicable people is winning more plus more travellers over everyday. Now it’s time to suit your needs to check if this beautiful country can win you over too!
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