Laos might not keep up with the tropical beaches or grandiose landmarks of its neighbouring countries, but the landlocked nation possesses unrivalled charms that mesmerise travellers in many ways. A certain serenity has enveloped the entire country, from the scenic jungle-clad limestones of the north and Luang Prabang’s picturesque UNESCO Heritage streets to the laid-back capital of Vientiane. Spared by mass tourism, Laos has managed to retain many of its age-old traditions, authentic culture and genuine smiles of the local people.
Vientiane, the country’s provincial capital, is home to a tick over 200,000 souls whereas Bangkok is touching ten million. It doesn’t offer a highlight to the degree of an Angkor Wat or Ha Long Bay. It’s overlooked. It’s a piece of space and solitude and serenity.
But these are the reasons why Laos is worth exploring – the country is highly rated among expats living in Southeast Asia. Lazy days wandering Luang Prabang’s UNESCO streets, where monks in gilded robes collect morning alms, or visiting Kuang Si Waterfall, where pools the colour of a clear sky beckon. Exploring, most likely alone, a vast plain littered with thousands of ancient jars. Kayaking amongst the limestone cliffs on the Nam Song River. Or just watching the Mekong life drift by in Vientiane.
Experience the life of a Luang Prabang local on this in-depth excursion. Along a journey through temples, riverside communities and artisan villages, discover the charms of three distinctive cultures and learn about local crafts – from instruments to textiles. Complete with magnificent views of the Mekong River, this journey contributes to the local economy and livelihoods in Luang Prabang.
An in-depth look at the daily life of Luang Prabang’s three most prominent ethnic cultures: the H’mong, Khmu and Lao Loum, this experience also takes travellers on a fun tuk-tuk ride.
Experience a day on a local farm with this half-day tour to Pakeng Village. From planting rice or vegetables to feeding animals and harvesting fruit, lend a hand to the farmers to learn about organic farming methods whilst supporting the local community at the same time.
Uniquely offered and supported by Discova, this community project allows travellers to gain insight into the life of locals in the Laotian countryside.
Eat like a local on this evening street food tour and sample an array of delicious delicacies as a local guide leads the way to the tastiest stalls. After exploring the winding alleyways of the Night Market, sit down to enjoy a delicious BBQ overlooking the Mekong – the perfect way to savour the tastes of Luang Prabang.
With our own expert guides, this street eats tour is the perfect way to experience the authentic taste of Laos.
Capital City: Vientiane
Population: 7 Million
Language: Lao and numerous regional dialects and minority languages
Currency: The Lao kip (₭ or LAK) is the country’s official currency. Other currencies often accepted in tourist areas are Thai baht and US dollars. As the kip cannot be exchanged outside of Laos, it’s recommended to carry baht or US dollars and exchange at local banks or moneychangers. Some banks in Luang Prabang and Vientiane also accept other major foreign currencies, including UK pounds, euros and Australian dollars. Even though ATMs are common in major towns and tourist areas, beware that they have a low withdrawal limit, coupled with fees for every transaction.
Many travellers to Laos are eligible for a visa on arrival (VOA) which is available at the country’s three international airports as well as most land border crossings. The VOA is valid for a single entry of 30 days and may be extended by an additional 60 days. Alternatively, most nationalities are also eligible to apply for a tourist e-Visa online to avoid long queues when entering the country. All visa applications require a passport with six months validity and an empty page, as well as two passport photos and visa fee in cash (amount depends on nationality). As travel policies change regularly, it’s best to check the official government website for the latest regulations before visiting.
Landlocked Laos has a tropical climate with the year being divided into green and dry seasons. May to October brings hot and humid weather as well as heavy rainfalls especially in August and September. As the rain subsides at the end of October, temperatures slightly drop too. During this time Laos is its most pleasant with warm and dry weather until February, when temperatures start to rise again, making March and April the hottest months of the year. Whilst the change in degrees is minimal in the south, the mountainous north can get quite chilly during the winter months.
© 2020 Discova. All rights reserved.