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Before departure

 LAOS TRAVEL GUIDE – BEFORE DEPARTURE
 
          1. INTRODUCTION TO LAOS
Laos, officially known as the Lao People's Democratic Republic (or Lao PDR), remains one of the poorest and most intriguing nations in South East Asia.
A landlocked mountainous country, studded with temples, covered with jungles and boasting, Laos is one of the hidden treasures of Indochina. It is also busy developing its standing as an eco-tourism centre due to the many hill tribe villages, river communities and unspoilt national parks. These settings all lend themselves to outdoor activities such as trekking, kayaking and caving. The country has the smallest population of all the Indochinese countries, 60 per cent of whom are devoutly Buddhist. Laos provides travellers a chance to truly experience Asia as it once was. Still relatively undeveloped and blessed geographically with natural beauty, this country will leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
         2. VISA
All visitors entering Laos must possess valid passports. Visa can obtained from Lao Embassies and Consulates abroad. In addition, visa can also be obtained on arrival at the international checkpoint. It costs 30-42 USD (depending on nationality). Two passport sized photos are required and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your expected departure date. Please contact your local Laos Embassy for the most accurate information.
          3. AIRLINES and AIRPORT TAX
International: The national airline of Laos is Lao Airlines (QV). There are no direct flights from the USA or Europe; flights are mainly via Bangkok, China, Vietnam or Cambodia. Popular airlines flying into Laos : Bangkok Airways,  Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines. Low cost carrier Air Asia has begun routes from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to Vientiane and China Southern flies to Vientiane from Kunming.
Domestic: Laos Airlines operates on domestic routes and connects the capital city Vientiane to the major destinations in the country.
There is departure airport tax for all international flights. The airport tax is already in the international airfare.
There is departure airport tax for all international flights. The airport tax is already in the international airfare.
          4. TRAVEL INSURANCE
It is essential to buy travel insurance for the reimbursement of medical expenses and execution incurred abroad. Insurance covering cancellation fees, baggage loss is also recommended.
          5. TRANSPORTATION
Local transport (less than 20km) in Laos consists of tuk-tuks, jumbos, and sky labs (motorised three or four wheelers). You can get on a minibus or VIP bus for longer journey between cities. Both types are usually air -  conditioned (though it doesn't always work).
Even more expensive, but certainly the most convenient, is a rented car with driver.
          6. RELIGION
Theravada Buddhism is the main religion in Laos. There are also a small community of Protestants and Catholic in the country.
7. VACCINATION
Yellow fever is not present in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos but a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However, visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region. Medical facilities are limited but it is easily to find a good medical facility in main Thai towns and along the Thai-Laos border. It is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.
          8.LANGUAGE
The official national language is Lao. Vietnamese, Thai and English are also common.
          9.TIME
Laos is 7 hours ahead of GMT

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