We’ve spent years developing our vast network of connections in the country, as well as personal trips to one of our favorite Southeast Asian countries.
Laos is a peaceful nation, and the best way to experience it is by taking your time. Our guides are local friends – some of whom used to be monks – who will help you explore the backstreets of Luang Prabang or relax by one of the rural waterfalls. Traveling by river fits perfectly into the slow pace of life here, and we always try to include a leisurely boat trip in our Laos plans.
Laos has a wide choice of lodgings for a country still in the early stages of becoming a tourism destination, much of it family-owned and full of character. French colonial mansions have been remodeled into small, stylish guesthouses with all the amenities and a warm welcome in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, while a few more opulent choices also offer swimming pools and even spas.The eco-lodges in the north have opened for individuals who want to spend more time exploring the surrounding hill tribe villages. In contrast, the accommodation in the south is significantly less Luxurious and only basic guesthouses are available.
The Lao people speak a tonal language that is comparable to Northern Thai. The official second language of the nation is French, although English is increasingly spoken throughout the country, especially among the younger generation. You’ll be greeted by loud cries of “Sabaidee” when you enter into Laos, which means hello. Laotians frequently greet each other by pressing their palms together and shaking hands, a practice known as “nop,” but it is acceptable for males to shake hands.
Food and drink
Rice is the go-to food in Laos, and Laotian dishes have an Indo-Chinese twist to them. If you’re looking for traditional Lao cuisine, markets and small eateries are where you’ll find it. Luang Prabang’s food culture bares resemblance to Northern Thailand, but with less resources available. Nevertheless, there are a handful of great restaurants located in Vientiane and LuagPrabnag that serve up tourist favourites all day long. Baguettes and croissants are often eaten for breakfast. Drink: Rice whisky or lao lao is popular, as is the local beer (Beer Lao). Try eating delicious Lao cuisine whenever possible, since it benefits local businesses and Lao farmers.
Tipping is now customary in Laos, especially within the service industry. If you are travelling solo, it’s suggested that you tip your guide $7-8 per day; if you’re part of a couple, then budget $8-10 per couple per day.When travelling in a group of three to four people, tip approximately $10-15 per day per group. When traveling in larger than four person groups, add 20% more for each extra guest. If your tour is more extensive and includes specialist activities like trekking or overland excursions, increase these guidelines by 20%. The porter’s tip is $1 per person per bag, and it’s a good idea to have a few dollar bill notes on hand for your convenience. If you aren’t happy with the service you receive, please speak with our representatives who will be able to arrange for a different guide or driver.
Money and expenses
The currency used in Laos is the Laotian New Kip. Thai and US currency are both widely accepted in shops, markets and hotels in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. There are no restrictions on importing or exporting foreign currency, although banks will only accept Thai Bahts, GB Sterling or US Dollars. The import and export of local currency is only allowed at legal money exchange facilities, such as the airport or licensed bureaux in major towns. Some businesses and restaurants will accept travellers’ cheques, but you’ll get cheaper deals if you use cash. In most hotels, gift stores, and more upmarket restaurants, credit cards are accepted. They may be used at major banks to get a cash advance in cash. There is an ATM at the BECL bank in Vientiane that accepts foreign currency. The money will be taken out in local currency.
Social, ethical and environmental issues
As the majority of Laotians are Buddhists, it is considered respectful to dress modestly when visiting Luang Prabang, one of Southeast Asia’s most spiritual destinations. When entering a temple, you will be expected to leave your shoes outside and make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered. There are many sacred sites and artefacts throughout Laos – please do not enter or touch these without permission from a local guide or religious official.If you know where to look, it’s possible that a foot is tied up behind the leg with a rope or something else and someone is even cleaning those feet. Please keep in mind the customs of Laos when visiting by removing your footwear before stepping inside a private home and avoiding touching another person’s head since this is highly inappropriate.
Take the same environmentally responsible precautions you should take anywhere in the world, but especially in the Third World. Use water and power supplies cautiously, reuse towels at hotels, try using recyclable goods rather than plastic bottles to save Laos’ animals, etc. PROTECT LAOS’ ANIMALS BY REFUSING TO BUY FISHES, ETC. Take litter away for disposal and do not throw it on the street, in order to set an example to Laos’ impressionable youngsters. Every time an antique Buddha image is taken out of Laos.