Getting Here 

Laos can be reached by land, air and river from neighboring Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Almost a dozen international airlines fly into the country’s three international airports of Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse (Such as Thai International, Viet Nam Airlines, Lao Airlines, China Southern and Bangkok Airways, Air Asia ). The busiest entry-exit point is the Friendship Bridge that connects Vientiane to Nong Khai, Thailand. Another popular overland border crossing is Houeixai that links northern Thailand's Chiang Rai province to northwestern Laos near the Golden Triangle.

Visas and Border Formalities

To enter the country, visitors need a passport with at least six months validity. Thirty-day visas are available from Lao embassies and consulates abroad. A 30-day visa on arrival may be obtained by passport holders at the following international border crossings:

  • Botene in Luang Namtha (Laos-China)
  • Houeisai in Bokeo (Laos-Thailand)
  • Na Meo in Houaphan (Laos-Vietnam)
  • Namkhan in Xieng Khouang (Laos-Vietnam),
  • Nam Phao in Bolikhamxai (Laos-Vietnam)
  • Thakhaek in Khammouane (Laos-Thailand)
  • Na Phao in Khammouane (Laos-Vietnam)
  • Dene Savan (Laos-Vietnam)
  • Dan Savanh (Laos-Thailand) in Savannakhet
  • Vang Tao in Champassak (Laos-Thailand).

Travelers who already have a visa may enter Laos from Cambodia at Veun Kham. Visa extensions are possible and best handled by one of the manytour companies in Vientiane, Luang Prabang or Pakse.

With the enactment of the ASEAN Tourism Agreement, visa-free entry is permitted to all citizens of ASEAN.


Laos has a tropical climate, though it can get quite chilly in the cool season. Temperatures range from 10C – 40C in the Mekong Valley but may dip below zero in the mountains and on the Xieng Khouang and Bolaven Plateaus.

There are three distinct seasons: cool from November-February; hot from March-May and rainy from June -October. Most people visit from October to February. But the rainy season offers lush green landscapes and the colorful Lao New Year's festival is in April.


Laos' has an area of around 237,000 sq km of which about 70% is mountainous including the Xieng Khouang and Bolaven plateaus. Phou Bia is the highest peak in the country at just over 2,800 m.


Lao is the national language and there are a further 220 indigenous languages spoken by the country’s 47 ethnic groups. Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese are widely understood. English has eclipsed French as the most commonly used international language and German, Russian and a number of East Europeans languages are understood by people educated in those countries.


The kip is the official currency, though US dollars and Thai baht are generally accepted in larger urban areas.  Credit cards are becoming more acceptable and ATM’s accept Visa, Mastercard and others.

Post and Internet Access

There are post offices in all provincial capitals. Vientiane 's main post office offers a post restante service, and both DHL and FedEx have offices in the capital. Internet access is widely available throughout the country except in some remote areas.

Phone and Fax Services

IDD is widely available and travelers can send and receive faxes from all post offices and many private businesses. Local SIM cards can be easily purchased.


24-hour electricity is now available in all major population centers and many district capitals. Laos uses 220 volt AC.


Guidebooks on Laos include the Oh! magazine, Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Footprint Guidebooks, the German language Stefan Loose, Frommers and Let's Goseries.

Business Hours

Government offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:30-12:00 and from 13.00 to about 16:30. Private businesses are generally open later, especially restaurants and entertainment venues. Except for restaurants, most businesses are closed on Sunday.

Traveling with Children

Laos is a safe, quiet country with a lot to explore for both adults and children. Lao people love children, and bringing yours along will arouse attention and curiosity that will open the door for priceless cultural interactions.


Laos has only basic health care and visitors should check with their physicians regarding which vaccinations and health precautions to take before arrival. The World Health Organization recommends the following vaccinations for Southeast Asia: diphtheria and tetanus, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, rubella, polio and typhoid. Those taking special medications, be sure to bring along an adequate supply to last the length of your trip.

Precautionary measures like eating only well-cooked food, drinking bottled water, staying hydrated, avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes and wearing protective clothing will help prevent most common ailments.