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Laos Practical Information
Travel guides
Laos Practical Information

Laos information

Laos Practical Information

The information about travelling in Laos, money, business hour, telephone and internet, public holidays, 
For Visa information of Laos, Please go to the FAQ Laos

Official name: Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Capital city: Vientiane
People: Lao, Khmou, H’mong
Religion: Buddhism (Theravada)
Language: Lao
Currency: Lao Kip
Time Zone: GMT +7 hours
International dialing code: +856
Electricity: 220V AC 50Hz
Driving: Left hand side

The official national currency of Laos is the Lao kip (K). US dollars are widely used in big cities, especially in restaurants. It is a good idea to arrive in Laos with some US dollars as the Lao kip cannot be exchanged outside the country. Bear in mind that torn and old bank notes are not generally accepted. In the areas near the Thai border, the Thai Baht is commonly accepted. Visa and MasterCard are becoming more popular in many hotels, restaurants. ATMs are available in large cities and tourist sites.

Tipping is not customary in Laos. Visitors are encouraged to tip an amount if they find appropriate or have a good time during the trip. Please remember that there is no rule for the tipping amount, it is completely at your discretion. But you should base on the performance of your guide, driver…

Business hours
Government offices: 8am–noon and 1pm–5pm Monday to Friday
Shops: 9am–6pm
Restaurants: 10am–10pm
Noodle Shops: 7am–1pm
Bars and Clubs: 5pm–11.30pm (later in Vientiane)

Lao, a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group is the official and dominant language of the country. However, only a half of Lao people can speak Lao, the remainders speak their ethnic minority languages, especially in rural areas. The most widely spoken languages are English and French.

Telephone and Internet
Telephone connection to the rest of the world is available throughout the country, however they are not cheap. International calls can be made from Lao Telecom offices or the local post office in most provincial capitals. Working hours typically run from about 7.30am to 9.30pm.

Nowadays it's almost always cheaper to use Skype via an internet cafe. Laos’ country code for calling is 856. For long-distance calls within the country, dial 0 first, then the area code and number. For international calls dial 00 first, then the country code, area code and number.

All mobile phones have a 020 code at the beginning of the number. Similar to this are WIN satellite phones, which begin with 030.

Internet is available in most major tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants and cafes.

Public holidays
Government offices, schools are all closed on public holidays:
Jan 1 New Year
Jan 20 Army Day
March 8 International Women’s Day
April 14 – 16 Lao New Year
May 1 May Day
Dec 2 Laos National Day

Health care
Before traveling to Laos, it is a must that you have adequate protection against diseases. Travelers should check with doctor about the needed vaccinations and latest information before departing. There is a malaria risk in the rural remote areas of Laos. Most visitors to Laos will require the following vaccinations:

- Hepatitis A and B
- Tetanus
- Typhoid
- Polio
- Diphtheria

Traveling with children
Traveling with children in Laos can be a lot of fun as long as you come prepared with the right attitude. The presence of children can help break the ice with locals.

The lack of adequate healthcare facilities is a major concern for parents. It is recommended to take first aid with you, and a rehydration solution in case of diarrhea, which can be quite dangerous in young children. Rabies is a problem in Laos; your children should especially be warned not to play with animals along the way and consider a rabies vaccination before you go.

Amenities for children like high chairs in restaurants, car seats and changing facilities in public are virtually unknown in Laos. Thus parents should take time to seek some alternatives.

Women travelers
Laos is a safe country for women travelers and violence against women is rare. However, it’s better to avoid unwanted troubles.

The best way is avoid overly revealing clothes. It's highly unusual for most Lao women to wear singlet tops or very short skirts or shorts. So when travelers do, people tend to stare.

Lao people will almost never confront you about what you're wearing, but that doesn't mean they don't care.

Travelers with disabilities
With the lack of paved roads or sidewalks – even when present the latter are often uneven – Laos presents many physical obstacles for travelers with mobility impairments. Rarely do public buildings feature ramps or other access points for wheelchairs, nor do most hotels make efforts to provide access for the physically disable, the few exceptions being in the top end. Thus you’re pretty much left to your own resources. Public transport is particularly crowded and difficult.

For wheelchair visitors, it’s best to plan in advance any trip to Laos. Let’s get in touch with related organizations or people who may have wheeled through Laos before.
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