Finding your next vacation destination can be a difficult thing to do because there are so many choices. Even so, depending on what you want from your vacation, chances are you are going to find the perfect spot. Have you ever considered going to Laos? The country has plenty to offer, and if you decide to go there, you are going to have a wonderful time. But before you start planning your trip, there are a few things you should probably know ahead of time. Read the information below to learn more about Laos.
What you have to understand about Laos is that most people forget about its existence when traveling to Asia. It is a pity, really, because Laos is a stunning country. However, things are about to change because more and more people decide to give Laos a chance. As a result, tourism in Laos is a growing sector. Its slogan is "Simply beautiful" and it really is.
First things first, to enter Laos, you need to know about its entry requirements. You will be pleased to learn, however, that Laos has a pretty lenient visa policy. Same as many other visa policies, it contains three categories of travelers.
The first category includes the citizens of visa waiver countries. It is true that there are not many. In fact, there are only 15 nationalities that are visa exempt. Consequently, they can travel to Laos using only a valid passport. The duration of stay varies from 14 to 30 days, depending on nationality.
The second category is represented by travelers who are eligible for a Laos visa on arrival. The same people also qualify for a Laos eVisa, which was recently introduced. In July 2019, to be more precise. In case you are eligible for a visa on arrival, it is best if you apply for a Laos eVisa online. The process is short and simple, and The Premium Visa Services can help you every step of the way. Plus, you are not required to stand in line at the visa on arrival counter when you get to Laos, which can save you some time and energy.
Last but not least, the third category includes people who are neither eligible for a visa on arrival nor a Laos eVisa. If you find yourself in this category, your only option is to go to the nearest Laotian embassy in your country and apply for a standard visa.
The best time to visit Laos is November through March. That is the dry season when there are little rainfall and decent temperatures. That is when you will be most comfortable. The thermometer can show 15 degrees Celsius in some regions, but if you go to the mountains, you need to pack some warm clothes. One thing that is worth mentioning is that you may want to avoid going to Northern Laos at the end of the dry season. That is because it can get a little hazy. The farmers will burn their lands, and there are a few forest fires.
The official language in Laos is Lao, so you may want to learn a few basic phrases to get around. However, English will help you get around just fine. Many people know some basic English, especially the younger generations. Laotian children are taught English in school, and you may come across kids coming to strike a conversation with you as a part of their curricular activities. You should take part in that because it is fun, and you can learn more about Laos. Also, the child may ask you to pose for a photo that stands as proof that the conversation between the two of you took place.
The most popular attraction in Laos is nature itself. You will find a lot of wilderness in Laos, and it applies to most of its surface area. But that is Laos's charm. The Mekong river gives stunning sights. If you check it out in the North, you will come across some of the most gorgeous limestone karsts in the world. If you want to explore the deep jungle and see the hill tribes, you should go as North as you can. There, you can see true wilderness, and it is impressive.
The south, on the other hand, is entirely the opposite. Everything is flat, which makes things a little bit more relaxing. The villages and people will be very welcoming. What you can see here are some sights along the river, but one of the largest falls located in Southeast Asia. With a little bit of luck, you may be able to spot the Mekong pink dolphin. They are rare, but they show themselves from time to time.
As far as activities are concerned, Laos can satisfy the wants and needs of an adventurer, but the ones of a relaxed person as well. You can go trekking, mountain climbing, kayaking, and tubing in the north, but if you want to relax a little bit, you can take a cruise up and down the Mekong River or enjoy an herbal sauna. Actually, that last one is a must while in Laos. It is usually run by temples, but the experience is unforgettable.
The food in Laos is very similar to the one in Thailand. It is spicy, and more often than not, it is more bitter than sweet. They serve a lot of raw vegetables, but their purpose is to cool your mouth after all that spiciness. Laos was a French colony, so French cuisine is also a part of the culture.
Safety-wise, use your common sense while in Laos. Crime is not common, but petty thieves will snatch your bag if left unattended. You should avoid wandering the streets of big cities at night, alone. Robbery at gunpoint is pretty common there. You should always carry an ID with you while in Laos. A passport or visa too. We recommend that you make copies. Also, do not allow hotels to make copies of your passport or visa. They will sell it for some extra cash to the purpose of money laundering. Corruption is a considerable problem in Laos.
As far as your health is concerned, many parts of Laos have cases of malaria, so you should bring along tablets. Dengue fever is also common, so the best thing you could do is to take precautions against mosquitos. Mosquito repellent and nets are a must when you go to Laos. Other than that, always drink bottled water.
One last thing you should know before going to Laos is that you must dress conservatively when you visit temples. You need proper clothing and leave your shoes at the entrance. No shoes are allowed in a private house either. It is inappropriate to show the soles of your feet, and you cannot touch a Laotian's head. The monks in Laos are taken very seriously, and you should avoid taking their pictures. Some of them take a vow of silence, so do not engage in conversation unless a monk does it.