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Laos

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Explore Our Laos

Laos is one of the best-kept secrets in Southeast Asia. For many its old fashioned charm and mighty Mekong river make it the highlight of Indochina. With its slow, peaceful pace of life and a burgeoning tourism sector, Laos offers the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It’s a feast for the senses, with stunning landscapes, rare wildlife and magnificent colonial architecture just waiting to be explored.

Vientiane, the sleepy capital, is an entrancing mix of French colonial architecture and Buddhist solemnity. Everything in Vientiane can be explored on foot, which makes it easy to get under the skin of the local culture.

Despite a tiny population, the country is hugely diverse with half of the population living in small hill-tribe villages. These are at their best in the undulating hills of Northern Laos, it’s here you’ll find some of Southeast Asia’s most untouched communities colorfully adorned in their unique dress.

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    The UNESCO-listed old capital of Luang Prabang is Laos’ showcase, a place which stirs the imagination. Its effortless blend of faded French villas, ancient wats, and golden stupas all live together in a languid harmony. The overlooking hazy green mountains are a nod for what lurks beyond in the country’s north – a web of walking and cycling trails through lush jungle and cooling waterfalls.

    Traveling further south the landscape becomes flatter but no less beautiful. Here you’ll find Wat Phou Temple, the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, and the Bolaven Plateau. If you want to tread a path less traveled, this charming country is the perfect destination for your but remember laidback Laos is easy to explore but difficult to leave.

    2

    World Heritage Sites

    49

    Ethnic Minorities

    17

    Cities

Laos-map

Laos Highlights

Vientiane

Vientiane

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng

Pakse

Pakse

Suggested Laos Itinerary

Explore our Laos sample itineraries to inspire your travel planning. The itineraries can be easily customised and adapted to your personal interests and preferences.

Images of Laos

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10 Days 9 Nights

Treasures of Laos

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5 Days 4 Nights
6 Days 5 Nights

Glimpse of Laos

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4 Days 3 Nights

Serenity of Laos

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4 Days 3 Nights

Simply Laos

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3 Days 2 Nights
Culture & Tradition

Many different factors can be attributed to Laos’ unique culture. One of these is that the nation has one of the lowest population densities in all of Asia. Laos also recognizes a large number of ethnic cultures and more than 80 languages spoken within its mountainous territory. Buddhism has a strong influence over daily life, and the Lao people are known for their reserved and content attitude.

Festivals & Events

Some of the most interesting Lao festivals are unique to small localities. When planning to travel to Laos, contact your travel consultant to see if any local festivals will occur during your itinerary. Some of the larger festivals in Laos are celebrated nationwide:

Boun Pi Mai: This is a traditional celebration of the Lao New Year that usually falls in mid-April. Houses and pagodas are cleaned and decorated in preparation and during the celebrations people joyfully throw water on each other to wash away the old year and bring good luck for the new year.

Buon That Luang: This festival is centred on the That Luang Stupa in Vientiane, which is believed to contain bones of Buddha. The holiday is marked in the capital by parades, almsgiving and votive offerings.

Health & Safety

In general, there are no serious health or safety risks when traveling in Vietnam. However, it never hurts to take precautions. Please consult your healthcare provider to see if they recommend any vaccinations or other medications when traveling.

In large cities and other crowded areas, be mindful of your belongings such as cameras, mobile phones and wallets/purses.

Currency

The Lao Kip (LAK) is the national currency and the current exchange rate with the US Dollar is 1USD = 8,970 LAK (as of April 2020). ATMs are available in larger cities and popular tourist destinations, and many of them work with overseas ATM cards. Some larger hotels and shops in cities also accept credit cards, and this method of payment is becoming more common. Keep in mind that some merchants may charge small fee and that international transaction fees may apply.

Post & Communications

The Lao postal system can mail letters and postcards worldwide for reasonable rates. International shipping companies such as FedEx, UPS and DHL are available in Laos as well if there is a need to ship something quickly.

SIM cards for mobile phones are cheap and widely available. Short term data packages for mobile phones are very inexpensive and easy to set up. Get in touch with your travel consultant to arrange a SIM if you wish to use your mobile phone upon arrival.

Security & Emergency Contacts

Laos is a relatively safe destination. In almost all cases the Laotian people regard tourists with the highest level of respect as guests in their country. However petty theft and pick pockets do exist. It is certainly not something to be concerned about but you should be aware of your surroundings.

You should therefore ensure that all bags have sturdy locks. Place all valuables, including passport and air tickets in the in-room safe at hotels or at the front desk. It is best not to bring expensive jewelry or watches to Laos. Do not carry unnecessarily large amounts of cash with you at any time.

 EMERGENCY CONTACTS

International access code: 00

Country code: 856

Police: 191

Tourist Police: 192

Fire : 190

Ambulance: 195

Travel Formalities

A visa is required for entry into Lao PDR. A regular tourist visa is valid for up to 30 days, and may be issued upon arrival at Vientiane’s International Airport or Luang Prabang International Airport for $18.00-42.00 US (depending on the passport holder’s nationality – Australians currently pay US$30.00. Visas can be obtained on arrival at the airport immigration counter without asking for an approval letter in advance. Please provide 2 colour passport photos and your passport must be valid at least 6 months in order to obtain a Lao visa.

For those wishing to extend their stay, it is possible to extend your visa at the Immigration Office in Vientiane or through travel agencies.

It is also possible to obtain a Visa-on-Arrival at the following international checkpoints for tourist visa validity for 14-30 days in Laos: The following are border entry gates to Laos.

CUSTOMS

If you have purchased silver or antiques in neighbouring countries, it is recommended you declare them at customs to avoid problems on departure. Importing firearms and drugs is strictly forbidden.

Antiques such as Buddha images and other old cultural artefacts are prohibited to be taken out of Laos. If you have already travelled in neighbouring countries, you are advised to declare your valuable items at customs to prevent any inconvenience upon departure. If you buy silver or copper items in Laos it is required to pay custom duties according to weight at the airport.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS

Arriving:  Visitors should make sure that they complete immigration and customs formalities when they enter Laos. Visitors are authorized to bring the following items: 500 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco, 1 litre of alcohol or two bottles of wine and an unlimited amount of cash, all for personal use, into Laos without taxation or penalty.

Laos does not allow visitors import drugs, weapons, explosives or pornography.

Important note: Drug smuggling carries severe penalties in Laos. Most convictions lead to life in prison or the death sentence.

Departing:  If visitors purchase silver or copper items during their stay, they might be required to pay duty upon exiting Laos, according to the weight of the items. Antiques, especially Buddha images or parts thereof, are not permitted to leave the country. Please declare your items to customs prior to departure.

VISA APPLICATION FORM

The passenger hands the completed application form with a photo and the passport to an officer. Once approved, the passport will be stamped and the passenger pays the visa fee.

IMMIGRATION

At immigration, the passenger presents their passport and immigration card. From there, passengers proceed to the luggage belt then continue on towards customs.

CUSTOMS (ARRIVAL)

The customs officer will check the completed customs form and the passport. Once he has stamped the form, the passenger will proceed towards the x-ray machine. After passing the entire luggage (including hand luggage, handbags, etc.) through the machine the passenger will be met by our English speaking guide.

CUSTOMS (DEPARTURE)

If you have purchased silver or antiques in neighbouring countries, it is recommended you declare them at customs to avoid problems on departure. Importing firearms and drugs is strictly forbidden.

It is prohibited to remove antique items such as Buddha images and other ancient cultural artefacts from Laos. If you have already travelled in neighbouring countries, you are advised to declare your valuable items to the customs to prevent any inconvenience upon departure. Anyone purchasing silver or copper items in Laos is also required to pay customs duty according to the weight of the item at the airport.

DISEMBARKATION

On the plane, the passenger will be given two forms to complete. The first is an Arrival / Departure Card. This card has two parts – the immigration officer will take one part, the other must be retained for use when the passenger departs. The second form is the Customs Declaration Form. This card should be filled out before arrival at the airport.

In the airport, the passenger will get a visa application form.

AIRPORT TAX

Airport departure tax is all included in passenger’s airfare

Other Tips

When traveling to Laos, remember to be flexible and keep an open mind. Many traveler frustrations begin with differing expectations and miscommunication. If there is an issue, try to stay pleasant, smile and enjoy the experience. The Lao people are very proud of their country and culture and are proud to showcase their nation and culture to international visitors.

Travel Guide

Q&A

1. Why to choose Laos Luxury tours?

Flexible itinerary

One of the reasons that make a tour become a luxury one is a flexible itinerary.  In normal tours, you have to follow the available itinerary, however, on a luxury tour, you have the right to create a tour that is suitable to you the most. When you visit Laos, instead of visiting Luang Prabang or Savannakhet as every tourist does, you can choose to travel to less popular places such as Muang Sing or Phongsali. Besides, the flexibility is not only in the freedom to choose places but also in choosing transport, accommodation, and food.

Personal Support

Luxury tour operators mostly give 24/7 personalized support. Some normal tour agents just serve in office time, which is always an obstacle for tourists because of time difference. With a luxury operator, you can call any time whenever you feel inspired to travel. In addition, during tour time, you are still given personal support for any change in traveling plan, or if you have any problem or wonder, one dedicated agent is always willing to help you.

Unique Experience

Realistic Asia always considers each tour is for a particular guest, therefore, there is no common tour that is made for everyone. Indeed, you have chance to create or require to create a unique tour based on your demand and interest.

Premium services

Realistic Asia will never disappoint you with premium services. From a standard car to a helicopter, you can draw your dream trip and let us make it real! You can require a private yacht, cruise to sink yourself in the beauty of marvelous beaches or choose a 16-seat Mercedes Benz or a luxury train to deeply immerse yourself in magnificent mountains.

2. What are in a luxury Laos tour packages?

Authentic experience

Laos is a place famous with ancient and holly temples and pagodas. If you are a person that is interested in discovering religions, Laos will satisfy you from your first sight. Visiting Laos in a luxury holiday, you will have chance to enjoy 2 into 1. One side is a very ancient pagoda that has lived for hundreds years, one side, you will be live in a modern and deluxe life with our luxury services.

Private & luxury transport

Privatization is one of the first reasons that decides travelers to choose a luxury trip. Therefore, a private vehicle is an indispensable condition. Private standard car as usual or a private luxury transport such as cruise, yacht or a helicopter to get to your destination are all your choice.

Services – Incredible services for your luxury holiday

24/7 Concierge service is a point that will impress you. Every time you need help, Realistic Asia will always be ready to support you.

High-end accommodation

Realistic Asia will directly research areas, and evaluate all accommodation to find the best hotel and resort for you. Moreover, because of longstanding relation with supplier, we ensure that you will get competitive prices but high-quality accommodation.

Superb food

If you are the one who is attracted to new cuisine, Laos traditional food will be available in your table as long as you request. However, if you miss your country’s food, the great chef from Realistic Asia will bring your taste to come back home.

3. Benefits of luxury private tour to Laos

Unique experience

A unique experience is an experience that no one has tried before, which is now no longer a distant thing if you create your own trip. Discovering Laos special foods such as milk buffalos or trying crossing bamboo bridge and thousands of unique things are waiting for you in a luxury tour.

Lower scams

In a private luxury tour, you are always fully equipped with knowledge and local review before taking part in your trip. Local experts and knowledgeable staffs always accompany with you to provide tips tricks to avoid any common scams that may happen to you. Therefore, you will know how to prevent scams with useful tips and excellent tricks.

Flexible timeline to explore off the beaten path places

When you own a luxury tour, you are the boss of your timeline. Besides discovering the Laos famous places, you can require luxury tour operator to explore unusual places to make you trip become more memorable.

4. Why to choose a luxury tour operator in Laos?

Privacy

Many travelers stick a tour with “travelling with many strange people”. However, in a luxury tour, your privacy is the biggest concern of a luxury tour operator. Because of being a tailor-made tour, the tour operator will put your privacy on top. You will be provided from private transport to private accommodation.

Advice from local experts

Your trip cannot be perfect without local experts. Why? Because they are the one who is knowledgeable the most about all destinations. With travelers who prefer off the beaten path places, local expert can take them to hidden places that even have not found in social media. They not only help you to find your most suitable places but also give you many advices to avoid scams and enjoy your trip. Moreover, they know clearly about accommodation and food, therefore, describe your hobby and demand and the local experts will handle the rest!

24/24 personal support

Unpredictable things may happen or some ideas are being fleeting insides your head during your trip. As a result, the 24/24 personal support is very necessary. Every time when you need help, dedicated agent will not let you wait.

5. When is the best time to visit Laos?

Laos’s weather is divided into 2 seasons: dry season and wet season. The rainy season starts from May and ends at October. Maybe you love hearing white noise – rains, but rain can make a real mess when the road becomes slippery and dirty, which may obstruct your trip.

If you love basking, you can visit Laos in summer time. However, in March, April, May and June, the weather is extremely hot with temperature from 35°C and above. If you still eagle to explore Laos in summer, you can travel to the north for slightly cooler weather.

The best time that many tourists choose to visit Laos is from November to February. In this time, it is warm and dry, which is an ideal time to explore Laos. In the daytime, the temperatures are agreeably fresh and warm, evenings are a little bit cooler. Laos is covered by green, especially in the countryside and natural places. January and February are suggested time to travel on the river. The wave of river is gentle, the water is fresher and the feeling of daily life at the bank of the river is more tranquil.

6. World-famous heritages of Laos?

Town of Luang Prabang (1995)

Town of Luang Prabang was in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since it was recognized as the best place of Laos traditional architecture. These structures were built during the 19th and 20th centuries by European colonizers. Town of Luang Prabang is the combination of traditional Laos architecture with French colonial period structure. Thanks to being in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this town is preserved exemplarily before investment of urban extension may sink it down.

Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape

This landscape is more than 1,000 years old and it expresses the connection between nature and human in Hindu belief in combination with Kmer architecture. The landscape follow a geometric shape of temples and shrines stretching from the mountain to the bank of river. The two cities were located at the bank of Mekong river and recognized to be a part of the UNESCO list in 2001.

7. What are the most remarkable landmarks in Laos?

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is an ancient town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It lies in at the mountainous place in the north of Laos. Luang Prabang is an exceptional combination of Laos urban architecture and Europe colonizer era. The special of Luang Prabang structure expresses not only in styles but also in materials. The majority of the whole structure is made of wood but the temples are made of stones.

Vientiane

Vientiane is known as Laos capital locating at the north-eastern bank of Mekong River. Vientiane will surprise you by its relaxing atmosphere that you rarely feel in other capitals, which will push you to a cold beer during the sunset time in a cruise to watch local daily life in the bank of Mekong.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng lies in a prime location between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Locating on the bank of Song River, Vang Vieng will have a bright future of tourism if the local people keep the river as clean as possible and, limit noise around the landscape.

Pakse

Pakse used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Champasak during the French colonialism until 1946. Different from other places in Laos, this city concludes ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese, therefore, you can witness the unique culture here. With Pakse International Airport, Pakes becomes the connection to Vientiane, Siem Reap, and Bangkok.

8. What are the best places for a yoga retreat in Laos?

Luang Prabang Yoga

Luang Prabang Yoga concludes two classes: morning class at Utopia and evening class at Sena Steakhouse. Yoga styles are Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin.

Yoga in Vang Vieng

With the beautiful natural view, Yoga in Vang Vieng will give you much of an enjoyable moment when you attend in outdoor session. Yoga teachers here are evaluated as the most amazing and helped ones. The classes open from 7:30 am and close at 5 pm. Yoga style consists of gentle flow to meditation, Ashtanga, Yin and Hatha.

Vientiane Yoga Studio

Although the studio is located centrally, it is a quiet and authentic place. Many visitors came and could not forget the excellent atmosphere and the enthusiasm of teachers here. Vientiane also includes many style range from beginner yoga, flow to Tai Chi and Chakra Yoga.

9. What are the most spectacular hiking/trekking trails in Laos?

Luang Prabang

In Luang Prabang, you can experience trekking and climbing mountains to go to ethnic groups: Hmong and Khmu. The trails may make you feel tired but that is absolutely worth when you have experience of staying in a local people’s house and living with their lifestyle.

Luang Namtha

You can have trekking and kayaking combo when you want to try different experience in Luang Namtha. Luang Namtha is known for lush and dense jungles. You also can try to cook and have meals totally with bamboo and banana leaves. In the evening, you can enjoy local dance practice to have a complete memorable time in Luang Namtha.

Huay Xai

Huay Xai is not only popular with a wonderful natural view but also the hospitality of the local people. Besides normal trekking, you can experience living in a houseboat or going upstream with a small boat.

10. What are paradises for cycling in Laos?

Luang Prabang

There is no kind of cycling more wonderful than cycling through tranquil natural place, which you can experience in Luang Prabang. You can cycle to the morning market to explore cuisine here where people eat frogs, bats, squirrels. snake and others. You can drive to visit beautiful temples, handicraft shop to by local made souvenirs or cycle around simply for watching local people’s daily life.

Vientiane

Cycling is an activity that most of tourists choose to enjoy the beauty here, therefore, bike rental services are plentiful. You can visit highlight gems of Vientiane such as market, backstreet and especially breathtaking temples. Because of cycling, the atmosphere is very nice and fresh. However, be aware of the sun in Laos and do not forget to bring your suntan lotion!

Savannakhet

Cycling in Savannakhet, you will not only enjoy the fresh and comfortable air but also enjoy the beautiful rice paddies in some ways.

11. What wildlife can be spotted in Laos' national parks?

Black Crested Gibbon

The Black Crested Gibbon is known as the fastest ape in the world and you can hear them sing very loudly at dawn. The male Crested Gibbon is black and the female is golden, they live in family groups. Their long limbs are their strength to live in high trees and you can find them in Bokeo.

Asiatic Black Bear

The Asiatic Black Bear is the mammals related to the north American black bear. You can easily recognize them with their distinctive white crest that exits on their chest. They are very good at climbing for collecting fruits. Because of habitat loss and hunting for gall bladders, they are facing to extinction. The Laos Wildlife Rescue Centre located in Vientiane Province are caring for nearly 20 bears and frequently open many volunteer projects for travelers to take part in taking care of bears.

Pygmy Slow Loris

You will surprise with the cuteness of Pygmy Slow Loris by their big naïve eyes and fluffy coats. However, they are in danger because of being capture and sell illegally as pets. Therefore, they are taken care of many national parks in Laos.

12. Best authentic experience in Laos?

Playing petanque with the locals

Just walking around some villages or town in Laos, you can easily see people playing this game. Petanque is similar with bocce or lawn bowls. This game was brought to Laos by French. Laos local people are very friendly, therefore, do not hesitate to be a part of the game.

Observing the alms giving ceremony

Alms giving ceremony is a dispensable part of Luang Prabang and becomes a longstanding tradition in Buddhist culture in Laos. Around 200 monks will depart from main street of Luang Prabang and spread out to every side street. Local people always wake up early to prepare food for the monks and wait solemnly and quietly in the roadside.

Taking part in a Baci ceremony

Baci ceremony is the ceremony that has existed for hundreds of years in Laos. Laos people believe that there are 32 organs in their body and each organ have a spirit. However, some organs often wander outside of their body, therefore, they use a white string that represents for 32 spirits to tie to their hands to take their spirits back to their body to bring them good luck and prosperity.

13. Unusual things to do in Laos?

Enjoying grilled bee honeycomb with larvae

This food looks like a weird corncob wrapped by banana leaf and grilled by coals. However, if you take your look closer, you can see bee larvae is still inside their honeycomb hexagons. In Laos and Cambodia, honeycomb as well as other foods from insects are very popular because of their cheap source of protein.

Homestaying with Hmong or Khmu family

Hmong and Khmu are ethnic minority group in Laos and you will be surprise with their friendliness and hospitality. Living with Hmong and Khmu people, you will not only learn about their special culture but also experience living as their lifestyle.

Swimming at Tad Lo

Tad Lo consists of 3 waterfalls: Tad lo, Tad Soung and Tad Hang. Tad Lo is popular with trekking. However, you can experience in your own way. You can swim here to feel the cool fresh of the water insides the marvelous jungle.

14. Top special dishes in Laos

Mok Pa

Mok Pa is a special food of Luang Prabang that is appreciated by many visitors. This food was made of fish, herbs and vegetables. Mok Pa is served mostly in a banana leaf to bring the sense of nature to enjoy.

Insect Protein

Eating food from insects such as caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, silkworm pupae, ant egg may make some tourists feel disgusted but it also makes many travelers feel excited by its uniqueness. Thanks to the way of cooking, you will no longer feel any discomfort when try this food.

Kaipen (Fried Seaweed)

Kaipen is made of freshwater green algae collected from the Mekong River in the northern Laos. The algae will be pressed, seasoned and dried in the sun. Frying until crispy and then eating with bong is considered as the best way to try Kaipen.

14. Most famous drinks in Laos

Lao Lao

This liquor will impress you from its name. In Laos, “Lao” has two meaning: alcohol and Laotian, so “Lao Lao” means “Laos Alcohol”. As suggested by the name, this is Laos’ traditional alcoholic drink. Lao Lao is made from rice and you will be amazed by handmade bottles with shocking price in the market. Many tourists will think that low price means low quality, but when you try this beverage, it will change your opinion.

Lao Hai – Lao Jar Liquor

Lao Hai is the traditional liquor of one ethnic group in Laos – Khomu. This alcoholic drink is fermented in jars and tasted with long reed straw. If you are person who are not good at drinking alcohol, feel free when try it because this liquor is a weaker version of Lao Lao.

Grilled Coconut

Grilled Coconut is a unique drink in Laos and it is always mentioned as one of 6-must-try Lao drink. Coconut is baked, then peel and remove the stigma. Making it chilled before drink will make this drink becomes one of the best choice for you when traveling to Laos in summer.

15. Do and Don't in Laos

Do

Exercising caution and wear helmets renting bikes

When traveling in Laos, many travelers really want to try driving a bike, especially travelers from Europe countries where driving motorbikes is not common. However, do not forget helmets when renting bikes or you will waste much of time for doing penalty procedures with police.

Dressing neatly and discreetly when visiting religious shrines or temples

Visiting shrines and temples is an activity that never be missed when travelling in Laos. However, shrines, temples and pagodas have principle for wearing, therefore, be sure that you will dress neatly and discreetly.

Gently crouch down when walking past someone who is seated, especially older people

When someone is seating and you want to cross them, do not forget to crouch down to express your politeness.

Don’t

Touching someone’s head (even children)

This is rude not only in Laos but in many other countries. However, you may forget it when you meet a child! Even those children are so cute, do not touch them especially their head.

Touching a monk or a monk’s robe

When observing alms giving ceremony, you will see many monks in the road receiving food. However, it is a every formal ceremony, therefore, do not touch a monk in anywhere.

Kissing and hugging in public

As other countries in Asia, kissing and hugging in public in Laos is extremely impolite.

About Realistic Asia

With 10 years working on exploiting tourism market in Asia, Realistic Asia is confident to be your best luxury tour operator. We always put the demand, interest and desire of guests on top and our priority is making your dream trip becomes true!

Laos is a country with many hidden place to explore, therefore, do not forget to call us for an unique experience in Laos.

We know you are unique, so we’re here to create unique experiences for you!
Share your ideas with us at hiendo@realisticasia.com
or call us +84-977-860-338 
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