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Laos Travel FAQ

1/Tip

+Should I tip in Laos?

In most places in Laos, tipping is not expected though as always it is appreciated. If you want to tip, 10% percent is pretty generous.

2/Visa

+What are the Laos visa requirements?

A couple of photos, a valid passport and $30 are the official requirements for a one month single entry tourist visa. This can be extended within the country for about $3 per day, most easily through agents.

3/Money

+Are credit cards accepted in Laos?

Not generally, but most top-range hotels and some large-ticket item shops will accept them. Very few restaurants and bars accept them. Most travel agents prefer cash but can organise credit card payment. Most will take a 3.5% fee on top of the price.

+How can I have money sent to me in Laos?

Western Union in Vientiane is the easiest way to receive money, though the fees are substantial (sender pays). You can also receive money via wire transfer at the foreign exchange sections of the 'foreigner bank', BCEL. In most cases all you need is a passport.

4/Getting Around

+Is it easy to hitch-hike in Laos?

Hitch-hiking is not particularly common. Most public transport however works on a sort of hitch-hiking system where the traveller waits by the side of the road until a public songthaew, bus or truck comes along, waves (palm down, fingers to the ground - thumb up is not polite) and the vehicle stops for the passenger to squeeze in. The fare is usually set depending on distance travelled, and the driver will stop just outside the destination point to collect the money owed.

+Should I get a tourist minibus in Laos?

If you want to get there a fraction faster, have a little more comfort and can afford to pay a little extra, then they're a good alternative to the public bus system. It is also possible to privately rent a minivan for your own journey, which is not cheap but allows you more flexibility on stopping along the way.

5/Languge

+Should I leran lao languge before I go to Laos?

English is not widely understood outside the main shopping and tourist area.Lao is not a hard languge to learn and you can easily pick up a few words and phrases in  a short time. If you have a more advanced knowledge of Lao language, you can have real conversations and you will gain a deeper

understanding of Lao culture and history with the people you meet in Laos, which can be very interesting and will add a new dimension to your holiday.

6/Is Laos safe??

Generally speaking, yes. Using common sense means you'll probably get out in one piece. Violent crime against foreigners occasionally takes place, but overall it's safe and women in particular find they feel more secure than in the west. The biggest problems are petty theft, scams and traffic accidents.

7/Time

Although as with other countries in the world, the seasons seem to be going a bit haywire, generally the dry season lasts from around February to June. Particularly around March to May it can get very, very hot and humid. At this time, farmers cut down forests in the mountains to make sticky rice fields, and the resulting smoky haze means that visibility is reduced. It starts to rain in about July, but is still quite hot. In December and January temperatures generally drop and can get quite chilly, particularly in the evening, although it never hits zero and doesn't come anywhere close to snowing. Northern towns are more mountainous and get colder still, although most foreigners from Canada or England don't find it cold at all.

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