32 days in Laos and only great adventures. We provide you with our impressions and figures to help you make your Laos budget.
Backpacking Laos: our travel guide
Laos is located in the heart of South East Asia and is one of the only south east Asian countries that has no access to the sea. Laos is a country that has a lot to offer and it is no surprise that it became very popular in the recent years. The hospitality of the people, the good food (the real sticky rice) but also the spectacular landscapes and a very rich culture make it an unmissable (in our opinion) Asian destination.
On this page you will find a lot of general information to travel Laos on a budget. And if you want some more specific info, you will find all our blog posts about our travels in Laos at the end of the page.
Do you want to see all our articles about Laos on a map and quickly access the content?
Here is the map with all our articles dedicated to Laos:
Our travel budget in Laos
Here is what we spent during our trip to Laos.
|Expense item||Daily budget/ person|
|Food & Drinks||6,4€|
That is a total budget of about 16.8€ per day and per person.
You can find more details on our budget in our budget article here
In terms of housing, we have, most of the time, searched for a place to stay directly on site. Searching for accommodation on the spot often allows you to find good deals, after thatbut it also means spending a little time looking for it.... Personally, we like this little ritual of going from guesthouse to guesthouse to compare prices and rooms but if you prefer to search for accommodation on the internet in Laos we recommend you to compare prices on Hotelscombined.Hotelscombined is not a booking site strictly speaking but a comparison website. This allows you to search for accommodation and then compare room prices between the different booking platforms such as Booking, Agoda and so on.
Date of our trip: february and March 2014
More details about our backpacking travel budget in Laos below:
Best time to visit Laos
Laos has a so-called "tropical" climate, which means that there are 2 seasons: a dry season that generally extends from October to April and a rainy season from May to September.
It is generally recommended to come in the dry season, especially since temperatures are much more pleasant during this period.... In July and August the thermometer tends to panic (upwards).
Useful information before getting to Laos
The currency in Laos is the Lao Kip. The exchange rate is about 1€ = 10'000 kip, but of course this rate can vary. To know the current rate, go check it on xe.com.
Time zone in Laos: UTC +7
Laos uses A, B, C and F sockets... This means that sometimes our european plugs could work without an adapter. But To tell you the truth, we systematically had our adapter with us in Laos. Sometimes the sockets were compatible and sometimes not at all. Here is an example of a good adapter
Good to know:
In Laos it is customary to always remove your shoes when you enter someone's home (or many shops and restaurants). Try to plan shoes that are easy to put on and take off ;)
Certain behaviours are to be avoided in Laos, such as
- Touching a child's head is very frowned upon!
- You should also avoid making public love demonstrations (kisses)
- You shouldn't walk around the streets in swimsuits or bikinis
- The feet are considered to be in their place only on the ground... it is very rude to lift your feet and put them on the table for example (note that this is not particularly polite in Europe neither, but in Laos it's really rude) ;)
- You must respect the monks and their traditions, but above all you should remember that a woman must never come into physical contact with a monk at any time.
Visas for Laos
Laos is a very practical and easy country for visas! Indeed, the visa is mandatory but can be obtained directly at the border (whether you arrive by air or by land). The visa costs $30 (it is preferable to have dollars with you... if you pay with other currencies the exchange rate is generally VERY unfavorable). The only condition for obtaining a visa is to have a valid passport that is still valid for at least 6 months. In addition, it is necessary to ensure that there are 2 blank pages in the passport (one double page).
Note: the price of the visa varies according to your nationality... for Canadians it is $42 for example.
In order to make the visa remember to have a passport photo with you! It is generally possible to do it at the border, but I promise you that it will be easier if you arrive with your photos.
For swiss travellers: Switzerland has a visa waiver agreement. With your Swiss passport you can enjoy 15 free days in the country! In our case, we knew we wanted to stay for a month, so we didn't use this option and bought the "monthly" visa directly because it saved us from having to extend our exemption (and financially it's almost the same).
More information about visa extensions can be found in our last laos blog post.
Getting to Laos
Laos is located in the heart of Southeast Asia and yet it is not such an easy destination to reach... well we reassure you it is not very complicated neither ;)
Arriving to Laos by land:
Many travellers (including us) who travel for a longer period in Asia decide to arrive in Laos by land. This is most likely the cheapest option and is relatively uncomplicated. Many land border crossings allow to reach Laos from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia or China.
Arriving to Laos by air:
If you arrive by plane there is a good chance that you will arrive either at Ventiane airport (the capital of Laos) or Luang Prabang. If you are coming from France it may be interesting to compare the prices of flights that go "direct" to Laos with those to Bangkok and then combined with an Asian low cost airline. This option often allows you to save a lot of money.
To find a flight, the easiest way is to go on Skyscanner and compare the different destinations, trying as much as possible to keep flexibility in the dates.
Religion in Laos
Laos is a largely Buddhist country (about 67% of the population). There are many temples and the vast majority are open to the public. It should be noted, however, that it is important to respect a certain dress code when entering temples in Laos: trousers and T-Shirt covering at least the shoulders and neckline are highly appreciated.
A few words of Lao to get started
So I might as well let you know right away... Lao or Laotian is not a piece of cake... on our end we got stuck at hello/thank you/goodbye during our visit (or almost). But despite the fact that it is a rather difficult language to remember (from our point of view) it is still very appreciated to know a few words. Even if you cripple the words and people don't understand you, it's not a big deal, at least it will have made the other person smile. :)
In terms of language reading, it's not much better... Thus, we'll put it here in a more "unofficial" pronunciation was
|Hello||sabaidi||Good evening||None lap fan dii|
|Thank you (a lot)||khobjai (lai lai)||goodbye||La kone|
|My name is...|
|yes/No||Tchao / Bo|
|eat||kin||how much?||Laka tao daï ?|
Trip to Laos: the best itinerary
Laos is a beautiful country that lends itself as much as a stopover on a round the world trip as to a beautiful holiday destination. It is, in absolute terms, of course possible to come for only one week, but if you want our opinion that would be a shame. Transportation duration are relatively long despite the short distances and therefore we really recommend that you allow a minimum of 2 weeks in the country. Below you will find some suggestions for itineraries depending on the duration of your trip... The idea is not that you follow them exactly, but rather to give you an impression of what we think is realistic...
2 weeks in Laos - our itinerary suggestions
If you plan to come to Laos for 2 weeks we would tend to recommend that you focus on either the north or south of the country.
Things to see things in the north of Laos: Nong Khiaw and its beautiful view, the very pretty and relaxing city of Luang Prabang, the superb waterfalls of Kuang Si, Muang Ngoi, take a cruise on the Mekong between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang... Vang Vieng is often mentioned as a destination to see in the north. For our part, we left this place with a rather mixed feelings. The surroundings are beautiful, but the small town is, in our opinion, sorely lacking in charm. Our article about Vang Vieng
Things to see in southern Laos: The 4000 islands are a beautiful place and especially the ideal spot to rest and train your hammock technique. ;) For a more sporting adventure, we recommend that you take a look at the Bolaven regions as well as Thakhek and its impressive Konglor cave!
3 weeks or 1 month in Laos?
If you stay more than 2 weeks then you can start to consider traveling both north and south with confidence! The same tips as above are of course still valid and can be combined quite easily! When planning your itinerary simply keep in mind that even if public transport works well in Laos it remains VERY slow! 100km are clearly not done in 1 hour (I would rather say 3 or 4 hours...) You are warned!
Our favorites in Laos:
- The Bolaven plateau was a big favorite of our trip! See our article
- The region of the 4000 islands also pleased us a lot... the idleness in its pure state! ;)
And if you don't feel like travelling to Laos independently, we highly recommend the services of Evaneos who will put you in touch with a local agency to help you prepare your trip.
With them, you're sure to go through a local agency to plan your trip while still having the ease of use of the great Evaneos website. As far as prizes go, there's something for everyone so don't hesitate to check it out!
Preparing your trip to Laos: The essentials
Here are some accessories and readings that could be useful to you if you are planning your trip
- Travel guides: for Laos you will find a wide selection of guides on the market. The best known and most often used are remains the lonely Planet