Laos is one of the most beautiful countries in South-East Asia, famous among travelers for its laid-back culture in Luang Prabang, its magical waters at the Kuang Si Falls, and its incredible night markets. Planning a trip to Laos has never been easier, and this guide will help you through the process, step by step.
Laos offers Visa on Arrival to Indians and to several other nationalities for a period of 30 days. This makes it incredibly easy for travelers who are planning for a short term trip to Laos. However, the cost of the visas differ for each country. The cost of visa for India is quite high at 40 USD whereas for other countries, it is well within 30 USD. I would recommend you to carry the following:
- Sufficient cash since the costs vary
- A 4×6 photograph
- Copies of the front and last pages of your passport
- Copy of your bank statement to show sufficient funds
The Laotian Kip (LAK) is the currency of Laos. As of 2019, 1 USD = 8179 LAK and 1 INR = 122.32 LAK. USD is widely accepted in Laos, including at local restaurants and at markets. I would recommend you to carry sufficient USD and a few notes of LAK when you visit Laos.
If you’re staying at a hostel or a hotel and making the payment in USD with some change involved, ask for the change in local currency. This way, you will avoid having to pay the extra fee at Forex stores while converting from USD to KHR for small amounts.
Metfone is a reliable mobile network in Laos with cheap data plans for tourists. I bought a Metfone SIM card in Cambodia, for 5 USD with a plan of 1GB data per day and 1 USD worth of local calls, for 10 days. The best part about it was that I could use the same SIM card in Laos as well without having to pay anything extra. If you’re traveling more than one country in South-East Asia, don’t forget to mention it at the store so that you can have one SIM card keeping you covered for the entire trip. You will usually find these stores at the Airport itself.
Also Read: What Nobody Will Tell You About Angkor in Cambodia
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Laos is between October to April during the dry season. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, you can visit Laos between May to September but be warned about the wet weather. Also, the Kuang Si Falls becomes turbid and brown during the rainy season and loses its Celeste color. So I would recommend you to visit Laos during the dry season. Nonetheless, since Laos is a tropical country, you can expect the weather to be quite warm throughout the year.
If you’re exploring a particular place, I would recommend you to explore by foot, bicycles or tuk-tuks that are available almost everywhere. If you’re traveling from one city to another, you can either book buses or travel by flight. You can pre-book your buses/flights on Baolao if you plan your trip ahead of your travel. If not, then you can book with the local travel agencies once you arrive in Laos. This will also work out more cheap for you.
Although I visited only Luang Prabang when in Laos, I’ve picked out few other popular destinations after referring other blogs and have listed out the best places to stay at while you’re there.
Low-Budget Hotels (300 – 600 INR):
1. Vongprachan Backpackers Hostel (Luang Prabang)
2. Barn1920s Hostel (Vientiane)
3. Vangvieng Rock Backpacker Hostel (Vang Vieng)
Medium-Budget Hotels (1500 – 2500 INR):
1. Queen’s House (Luang Prabang)
2. Urbanite Hotel (Vientiane)
3. Eden de Vang Vieng Hotel (Vang Vieng)
Luxury Hotels (2500 – 7500 INR):
1. Maison Dalabua (Luang Prabang)
2. Crowne Plaza Vientiane (Vientiane)
3. Riverside Boutique Resort, Vang Vieng (Vang Vieng)
Things to do
Explore Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is a beautiful city that is home to the phantasmagorical Kuang Si Falls and the vibrant night markets. It also has a 15th century Buddhist monastery where you can learn about the principles and teachings of Buddhism.
Also Read: Two Days in Luang Prabang – The Perfect 48-Hour Itinerary
Visit Kuang Si Falls
Kuang Si Falls is the most beautiful waterfall in the world – as claimed by several tourists. Hidden in the limestone jungle of Laos, any trip to Laos would be incomplete without visiting this magical wonder.
Also Read: My Alice in Wonderland Moment at Kuang Si Falls
Explore the Night Markets
The night markets in Laos truly reflects upon the artistic culture of the country. Laotians are some of the best artists in the world, and producers of some of the most authentic goods like coffee, indigo-dyed clothing, bamboo straws, lamps, and several other products. If you visit the night market, do not forget to shop for some great souvenirs to take back home, and try some lip-smacking vegan food.
Vientiane is the capital of Laos and a city famous for its mixes of French colonial architecture with Buddhist temples. Some of the popular attractions are Pha That Luang, Patuxai, Wat Si Saket and COPE Visitor Centre.
Vang Vieng is a small town north of Vientiane, on the Nam Song river in Laos. It is surrounded by limestone mountains and caves and offers spectacular views. One can visit the Tham Chang and Tham Jang caves in Vang Vieng and other 16th – 17th century monasteries.
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