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Local Information

Local-Info

The language is Lao as it is spoken in Vientiane, English is used in tourist centers. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai are understood. There are over 220 languages spoken by 47 ethnic groups.

Laos' main geographic features are mountains, the Xieng Khouang and Bolaven Plateaux and the Mekong River Valley. The country's 237,000 sq km, is about 70% mountainous, the highest peak, Phou Bia, reaches just over 2,800 m.

Laos has a mild tropical climate, but it can get quite cool. Temperatures range from about 10 - 40 degrees Celsius and can be below zero in the mountains, the Xieng Khouang and Bolaven Plateaux. There are two seasons, wet from May to October and dry from November to April. The wet is usually a few hours of rainfall a day, but can sometimes be torrential. It gets hot around the beginning of the wet season and cool at the end.

Laos has basic health care and visitors should check with their doctor before travelling and have health insurance. Dengue is a current and rising problem. Malaria seems to have abated. Mosquitos are everywhere, use DEET repellant.

Tap water is OK for showering etc, bottled drinking water is cheap and available everywhere. The local Beer Lao, is also cheap and available everywhere.

The currency of Laos is the kip. Traveler's cheques can be cashed at banks. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and some shopping establishments. ATMs are readily available in most larger towns and cities, they dispense Kip notes. Beware of changing too much money, $1,000 will get a big stack of Kip notes and whilst they can be changed in Laos, they cannot be changed outside of Laos.  Thai baht and US dollars are also accepted.

Phones and Faxes are widespread and mobile technology predominates, SIM cards are readily available from one of several Telcos. Internet access is available in tourism centers and via 3G mobile.

Laos uses 220 volt AC electricity. Some outages, usually brief, can occur.

There are post offices from which to send letters and parcels. There is no residential postal delivery service. Vientiane's main post office has a post restante service.

Offices are open Monday through Friday from 08:30-12:00 and from 13:00 to about 16:30. It is not uncommon for staff to have a nap after lunch. Private businesses are open later and restaurants and entertainment venues close about 23:00. Most businesses are closed on Sunday. There is an official curfew, but whilst people may be stopped after hours, there are usually no consequences.


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Historical Information
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An Adventure

Elephants

Elephants, Laos was once known as the land of a million Elephants. Once these majestic animals were the mainstay of travelling, hauling long distance and logging. Even as recently as the Vietnam...

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Cave

Caves in Laos are some of the most extensive limestone cave systems in Asia. Vang Vieng, is famous for karst mountains and caves. Konglor Cave in central Laos' Khammouane Province is one of...

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Trekking

Trekking is a great way to explore the mountains and forests of Laos. You can journey to waterfalls and caves, visit remote ethnic villages, investigate remnants of ancient cultures and temples and...

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Climbing

Climbing is a fairly new activity in Laos. So far, the only officially opened areas for climbing are in Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. With the spectacular limestone landscape in Vang Vieng, north...

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Cycling

Cycling is a great, way to get around Laos. The main roads North and South and East and West are paved. The subsidiary and rural roads are more suitable for Mountain Bikes...

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Chili Dips

Chili Dips - Jeow, there is jeow, and there is jeow. Sauces and dips are called jeow as long as these contain chillies. The classic jeow is either fairly dry or...

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Tam Mahk Houng

Tam Mahk Houng - Lao Papaya Spicy Salad 2 cups shredded papayas1 garlic clove4 chilies1 tablespoon shrimp paste1/4 tablespoon crab, paste1 tablespoon fish sauce1 scant teaspoon msg (optional)1 tablespoon fermented fish...

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Tom and Gaeng

Tom and Gaeng - soups, There are tom and there are gaeng, both are ‘soups’ in English whereby gaeng is misleadingly translated into ‘curry’. Tom - “to boil” or “boiled” - are...

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Chicken Lahp

Chicken lahp with vegetables and variations - lahp gai pak gap Ingredients for a Lao raw or cooked meat lahp are extremely variable reflecting a cuisine which is prepared with whatever...

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Gaeng Bawt

Gaeng bawt with chicken or duck ແກງປອ໋ດໃສ່ ໄກ່ ຫຼື ເປັດ gaeng bawt sai gai leur bpetThis is a typical Kalom (Tai Yuan) stew from Ban Khone, The Boat Landing’s village...

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Shangri Lao

Follow the footsteps of an explorer The Following is a historical background of the site of the new ‘Shangri Lao’ classic explorer camp and its surroundings. The end of the 19th century...

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19th Century Photos

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19th Century Photos

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19th Century Photos

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National Protected Areas

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Attractions

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Adventure

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  • National Protected Areas
  • Attractions
  • Adventure
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Gaeng Bawt

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Chili Dips

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Tam Mahk Houng

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  • Gaeng Bawt
  • Chili Dips
  • Tam Mahk Houng

Popular Attractions

Wat Phou

Vat Phou or Wat Phu (Lao: ວັດພູ [wāt pʰúː] temple-mountain) is a ruined Khmer temple complex in southern Laos. It is located at the base of mount Phu Kao, some...

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Bolivan Plateau

The Bolivan Plateau is an elevated region in southern Laos. Most of the plateau is located within Champasak Province of Laos, though the edges of the plateau are also located...

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Pak Ou Caves

Pak Ou Caves. Near Pak Ou (mouth of the Ou river) the Tham Ting (lower cave) and the Tham Theung (upper cave) are caves overlooking the Mekong River, 25 km...

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Si Phan Dong

Si Phan Don (Lao: ສີພັນດອນ; meaning The 4000 islands) is a riverine archipelago located in the Mekong River, Champasak Province in southern Laos. Si Phan Don is characterised by numerous islands...

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Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars (Lao: ທົ່ງໄຫຫິນ [tʰōŋ hǎj hǐn]) is a megalithic archaeological landscape in Laos. Scattered in the landscape of the Xieng Khouang plateau, Xieng Khouang, Lao PDR, are...

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 Elephant Conservation Center logo

 Elephant Conservation Center

The Elephant Conservation Center hosts Laos' first hospital dedicated to elephants that are victims of logging accidents or affected by diseases. The center is staffed with an international team of elephant vets and offers free veterinary care services, an emergency unit, a breeding center, a mahout vocational center and the most extensive elephant information center in country. 
Click here to visit the Elephant Conservation Centre

foundation

This organisation was set up by a former fire-fighter and nurse who worked for the Red Cross on emergency assistance. He gathered around him a team of 34 dedicated people from Lao and trained them in first aid. It is registered under the Lao Foundation to assist the poor and was established in 2006.

Exo Foundation

Choice Hotels Laos

Selected Hotels, Resorts, Ecolodges and Cruises, each destination is a tourist attraction in its own right. The Individualist’s Guide to Discover Laos along National Route 13 from China to Cambodia coordinated...

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Hands

We liked the Elephant Trekking in Champasak and the shopping in the Pakse markets. J&S Gentner.
F. White.