Search for Air Tickets

Search Deals

Travel Tips

Laos Travel Tips

CLIMATE: 
Laos can be visited throughout the year. The dry or cool season begins end of October and lasts until end of March. It is necessary to take along a pullover or jacket during the cool season as nights can get very cool, especially in the mountainous north, in Luang Prabang, the Plain of Jars, and in the early morning, cruising on the Mekong or Nam Ou River. Most hotels do not have heating facility, just blankets. The hot and wet season lasts from April to October. Even though rains can be heavy and storms are frequent, this season also has its beauty. For visitors traveling between end of February and mid April, please note in the mountainous area where “slash and burn” cultivation is still common, the smoke and dust may cause an unpleasant haze. The rain clears up the air from mid April onwards.

HEALTH
No vaccinations are presently required. If traveling to remote or border areas, travelers should check with their doctor or a travel immunization clinic regarding the advisability of inoculation against Typhoid, Diphtheria, Hepatitis and Tetanus.
 
Medical care is limited. Embassies can provide advice. Serious cases are taken across the river to Nongkhai or Udon Thani where Thai hospitals are state-of-the-art and English speaking staff is not uncommon. Medical insurance is available upon arrival at the airport or when crossing the bridge downriver from Vientiane. The big hotels can refer guests to local physicians and Vientiane medical clinics.

CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE 
The local currency is the Kip. The rate of exchange on November 2013 is 7800 Kip / US Dollar, 260 Kip / 1 Thai Baht, 10800 Kip / 1 Euro. Kips are issued in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000 and 100.000 Kip notes. Travelers can exchange their hard currency either at licensed exchange shops in the towns or at their hotels (usually no good rates at hotels). Kips hold no value outside Laos so make sure not to leave the country with this currency or change against Bath or Dollar. It will not be exchanged from any bank outside Laos. Credit cards are only accepted in the better hotels and selected shops and restaurants in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Traveler checks and the Euro are more difficult to change outside the two main cities. It is best to carry US Dollars bills in small denominations.

AIRPORT TAX
Are included in the air faresNo vaccinations

OFFICIAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 2014 
Jan 01 International New Year 
Mar 08 International Women’s Day
Apr 13 - 16 Lao New Year (dates may vary by one day) 
May 01 Labour Day 
Dec 02 Lao National Day

BUDDHIST FESTIVALS IN LAOS 2014 
Makhabussa (all country) & Wat Phou Festival (Champasak only)
The festivity commemorates the Buddha’s teaching inform of 2500 "arahats" or followers. At every temple there are processions with people going around the sanctuary carrying lit candles.

 The Vat Phou Festival is the most important event throughout the year to honor the pre-ankorian Khmer Ruins.

 - These festivals are held mostly in the mid of February, on the Third full moon of the lunar calendar. 

Lao New Year (all country)
Pii Mai Lao is the largest Buddhist festival in the year. The most spectacular celebrations are held in Luang Prabang during three days. Everywhere throughout the country, the people throw water in the streets and perform ritual washings of Buddha statues at each temple.
 
- This festival is held between 13-16 April. 

Visakhabussa (all country)
The day commemorates Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment and his passing away into the Nibbana. Processions with candles are held at every temple.

 - This festival is held around mid of May which is based on the Sixth full moon of the lunar calendar. 

Khao Phansa (all country)
Khao Phansa is the start of the Buddhist lent. There is an early morning alms giving at the temples.

 - This festival is held in the beginning of July, on the Eighth full moon of the lunar calendar. 

Khao Padapdinh - boat racing in Luang Prabang
This is the festival honoring the dead. At Luang Prabang there are boat races on the Nam Khan.

Generally in August or early September 

Ok Phansa (all country)
Ok Phansa marks the end of the Buddhist lent. In the morning, there are alms giving rounds at the temples. In the evening, a spectacular procession of candle-lit boats is performed in Luang Prabang. The procession ending at Vat Xieng Thong, the boats are put to water at the royal pier. Thousands of banana-leaf floats with lights are put onto the Mekong and light it up magically. The following day is the boat race at Vientiane.
 
- This festival will be held between the end of September and beginning of October, depending on the full moon of the lunar calendar. 

Lai Heua Fai - Boat racing on the Mekong in Vientiane
- On the day following Ok Phansa 

That Luang festival (Vientiane only) & That Xieng Tung (Muang Sing) 
As every monk in the country tries to come to Vientiane for this festival it is undoubtedly one of the largest festivals in Laos. On the first day a large procession leads from the city centre to That Luang Stupa on the outskirts of town. Around That Luang Stupa a fair attracts people at night time and for one of the largest alms giving the next morning.

- This festival will be held between the end of October and beginning of November, depending on the full moon of the lunar calendar. 

That Ing Hang festival Savannakhet
Note that religious festivals follow lunar calendar, there can be some deviations as these dates were not official at the time of writing.

- This festival is held around one month after That Luang festival. 

Official dates are published by the Buddhist Highest Authority, usually in September or October of the previous year


PASSPORT AND VISAS
Visas are required by all nationalities with the exception of Japanese, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Luxembourg (up to 15 days stay), Switzerland (up to 15 days stay) and ASEAN countries. Passports have to be valid for at least 6 months after date of departure from Laos. Visas can be obtained at Lao Embassies and consulates before entering the country or at any entry point to Laos (make sure to have 1 picture). 

Visas are usually obtained from a Lao Embassy and normally they require between 2-4 working days to issue the visa. Visas on arrival issued at the various international entry points to Laos presently cost USD 30.00 to USD 40.00 per person (1 photo required). The validity is 30 days, extensions possible in Vientiane and in Luang Prabang.

Service charge USD 1.00 will apply.

Foreigners who overstay in Laos will be fined USD 10.00/day.

It is possible to obtain a visa at the Lao Embassy in Bangkok but the process requires 2 working days.

Citizens from some countries are not eligible for Visa on Arrival, important to check in advance

CUSTOMS REGULATION FOR LAOS
Persons over 18 years are permitted to entry the following tax free;

500 cigarettes or 100 Cigars or 500g tobacco

2 liters of wine, 1 liter of spirit, perfume for personal use

Exportation of antiques such as old Buddha images is strictly forbidden 

GENERAL 
Mekong travel
Traditional boats run the Mekong year round. Speedboats are not recommended as the safety is poor and comfort little, noise huge. The scenery in the north is spectacular. Popular routes are Houeyxay – Luang Prabang in the north, Pakze - Champasak and Don Khong – 4000 islands at the Cambodian border in the south. 

Road travel
Most of the important arteries in Laos are regularly being rebuilt. Local transportation will take you just about everywhere. Some buses are air-conditioned and with comfortable seats. Locals often travel by converted pickup trucks. TrustLao Travel will provide air-conditioned private minibuses for travel anywhere. In the north west of Laos the new highway linking Chinese border (Boten) to Houeyxay (Bokeo province) and Chiang Khong (Thailand) is completed and has reduced driving time considerably. The road linking Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam) to Oudomxay (Laos) renovated since Jan. 2013 on the Lao part. 

Business hours
8-12 am and 2-5 pm, Monday through Friday. Ministries, the post office included, are no longer opened on Saturday morning. Travel agencies and airline ticket offices work half days on Saturday. Shops and private businesses open at 9-10 am and close late. They normally stay open during lunch.

TrustLao Travel is open Monday to Friday from 08:30-12:30 am and from 13:30-17:30 pm, Saturday morning from 08:30 to 12:00 noon. Permanency is available from 15 October to 15 April, 7 days per week.  

Banking
The major banks in Vientiane and Luang Prabang have extra exchange booths that are open sometimes even until 6 pm on Sundays. Many smaller official exchange shops are available in every major town, and ATM become very common. Cash advances are possible using American Express and Visa. Wire transfers are easily executed. For these services keep to the main opening hours – banks close at 3 pm 

Internet
Internet cafes are surprisingly cheap and efficient in the tourist centers. You will find internet on every corner in the centre of Vientiane and on every second corner on the main strip in Luang Prabang. 

Taxis
Three wheeled motorcycle taxis, called either Tuk Tuks or Jumbo are popular and cheap. You can travel anywhere in any town for starting about 20 000 Kip. Normal taxis have become common but remain more expensive, also more comfortable. Motorbikes/ bikes
Bikes are for rent anywhere and cheap (from USD 2.00 per day)

Motorbikes are easily rented in Vientiane although you may have to give your passport as security until you return. Rates vary, but USD 8.00 per day is considered reasonable (but USD 20.00 in Luang Prabang). Please note that the rental does not include any insurance cover. Local time
Laos like Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich mean time. Thus 12 Noon in Vientiane is 1 AM in New York, 5 AM in London, 6 AM in Paris (winter time).

DOS AND DON’TS 
Show respect and do as the Lao do and remember:
 1. Don’t touch anyone’s head.
 2. Don’t lose you cool.
 3. Dress and behave modestly and don’t expose too much skin

Leave your shoes outside when you enter someone’s house. Return a greeting. Be careful not to upset religious feelings. The Lao are very friendly and hospitable and a minimum of effort will smooth your trip and make it more memorable. Respect the culture and in turn you will be respected 

Welcome
Traditionally, Lao people use the “nop” on meeting. You will win friends instantly if you make a sincere effort of returning the greeting. Men amongst each other will sometimes shake hands but definitely use the “nop” when you greet Lao women (especially older). The Lao use the phrase “Sabaidee” when they meet. Never use the Western way of greeting by either a kiss or a hug
How to “nop”? Raise your hands in a praying gesture with the palms of your hands together. The higher you go the more respect you show 

Feelings in Public
Public displays of affection are taboo in Lao society, so don’t cause shock or embarrassment by kissing or cuddling in front of people. Modest dress and discreet behavior will insure you don’t attract unwanted attention or embarrass others 

Foot and Head
In Buddhism and generally in Asian society the head is the seat of the soul and its purity while the feet walk the earth and all that is deposited on it. Laotians always take care not to expose the feet when sitting down. Don’t rest the feet on tables or chairs and do not gesture with the feet. The locals can be insulted or regard you as something of a barbarian 

Shouting
Never raise your voice to Lao people as they never react well to it. Even shouting to friends or for taxis will cause shock and worry 

Appearance
Bodily hygiene and cleanliness are of the highest standard in Laos and a visitor’s failure to keep clean is not well received 

In a Lao home
Shoes generally stay outside at the bottom of the steps. Keep your head and general profile low at gatherings, particularly when passing by older people respect should be shown Religion
Religion is a major part of daily life. Most people will show their faith regularly and especially during religious festivals
Show respect in temples and shrines. Observe how the locals behave in such places.

The basic rules are:
 •no shoes in temple buildings
 •keep your head lower than Buddha and monks
 •don’t touch the Buddha
 •don’t turn your back on the Buddha or touch him
 •ladies should remember never touch a monk, as the Therravada or the code of Buddhist monk discipline has monks in a life of strict chastity

Environment
Bins are scarce, so use your plastic bags to return rubbish to towns or villages Authorities
Cooperate with the authorities, showing patience, respect and goodwill, and your stay should be lovely. Ask for receipts if you need to pay money. Put on a friendly face and never lose your temper or you may have more formalities to complete 

Vientiane, August 2013 / Benjamin 

Twelve Most Asked Questions

WHAT NEW IN LAO?

Vientiane

The Lao Textile Museum is a new highlight that can be included in our city tour of Vientiane. The large private collection of Lao textiles and artifacts is housed in a traditional Lao house surrounded by a lush garden. Silk weaving is done on location and silk dying workshops can be arranged.A new small building offers Cooking Class in a beautiful surrounding and near the famous Thong Kham Kham market.
 
COPE is a National Rehabilitation Center located near the Morning Market. The visitor center features an exposition with guided tour about the Secret War 1965 to 1974, mainly concerning the unexploded mines, and the way Laos takes care of the victims nowadays. Videos from 10 to 50 minutes can be watched on spot. Entrance is free, contributions are welcome.
 
Kong View is a new Mekong Riverside restaurant, slightly off the city center, Mostly open air restaurant and bar with life music. The trend of the Lao new generation.The Loft is the absolute latest night spot in the city center.
 
Mandala Hotel is a boutique hotel located in a quiet street about a 15-minute walk to the city centre. It has 17 rooms, including five suites, in an old colonial building that has been renovated.
 

Luang Prabang
Located just outside the town’s centre, Luang Say Residence***** has a lot of colonial charm and is very tastefully decorated with much attention to details. It proposes 24 Suites in six pavilions, which are named after the region’s French explorers, and one of the best tables of Laos. The hotel also has a large outdoor pool and a fully stocked stylish bar. 

Built on a heritage site in Luang Prabang, Laos' former royal capital, Hotel de la Paix Luang Prabang ***** fuses colonial charm with contemporary elegance in one of the finest luxury all-suite resorts in the region.

Xhiengthong Palace, located next door to the famous temple from which it borrowed its name, offers 26 comfortable rooms and suites, some of them with a great view over the Mekong River. An elegant air-conditioned restaurant, partially al fresco, serves Lao and international cuisine
 
The upmarket hotel chain Burasari from Thailand has taken over the former Chang Hotel, and is bringing it a complete new look and upgrading its services. With 23 rooms and suites at a perfect location along the Nam Khan River, Burasari Heritage Luang Prabang, opening in November 2012, will complete the first class range of hotels in Laos. Since 2013, the hotel also proposes to have your meals at the terrace overlooking the Nam Khan River.
 
The mid-class market new hotels are Le Sen Boutique Luang Prabang (which offers 16 very nice Deluxe rooms, two Suites and one Villa, as well as a swimming pool with reasonable prices), Sada Hotel (31 rooms with Lao decoration), and the Sanctuary Hotel (30 rooms & suites in the center town).
 
Restaurant Ban Lakkham is located on the banks of the Nam Khan River, overlooking the beautiful landscape of the surrounding area and the mountains. There are more than 40 seats on the terrace, which is surrounded by big trees. The restaurant serves Lao and Western dishes and is ideal for lunch and dinner.
 

Pakbeng
The most favorite Pakbeng Lodge has opened 10 additional rooms and suites with a new restaurant, up to a total of 30 units. Added to Phetsokxay’s 33 rooms, and the New Mekong Riverside Lodge (10 charming bungalows standing on the Bank of the River) the global offer has improved, even though in the peak season we have to book also local guesthouses, with lower comfort. 

Lao Charming Hotel is this first boutique hotel in Oudomxay. Located in the center town, the hotel provides 13 comfortable rooms comprising 10 deluxe rooms and 3 suites, and a nice restaurant.
 
Southern Laos

The River Resort in Champasak offers villa-style accommodation with 14 spacious Riverside rooms. Each room measuring 34sqm, has breath-taking panoramic view of the Mekong River from its bedroom and its wide Riverside terrace, and beautiful high mountain views and sunsets from its rear terrace. Its six spacious Pondside rooms have wide terrace views of the Mekong River and unique westerly views of the River's own rice paddies and the high mountain range, and sunsets behind the resort. 

The resort's Riverside Sala include a comfortable lounge, open air dining offering Western and Thai/Laotian cuisine and barbecue parties, as well as a bar with all-day beverage and snack service. On the roof deck is a bar and dining area open to the skies, with magnificent Mekong River views. Other facilities include free high-speed Wifi, an infinity swimming pool and Laotian massage pavilion.
 
Also know as Le Chalet, the Sinouk Coffee Lodge is a lovely resort, mix of Lao and Western style. It offers nine rooms in two buildings, a restaurant and terrace overlooking a small creek, surrounded by a beautifully manicured garden and a very large coffee plantation. Built at an attitude of about 1,000 metres, Sinouk Coffee Lodge enjoys a very pleasant climate and deserves at least two nights' stay.
 
Located in Paksé, Sisouk Residence is located right next to the famous Sinouk Café in the centre town. This renovated town house, proposes 13 rooms decorated with a lot of wood and built in a traditional style. Most of the rooms have a balcony overlooking to the nearby river.
 
A very spectacular Jungle Hotel that can only reached by zip line was set up recently in Southern Laos. The surroundings are absolutely stunning, taking advantage of the breathtaking Tad Fane waterfall. A via ferrate, canopy walk, abseiling down the waterfall and a overnight stay in your own tree house are all included. There are two days and three days tours to choose from. The company has built a total of six tree houses.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL? 
Every season has something special to offer, so Laos is a year around destination. The coolest months are December through February. At this time, air-conditioning becomes unnecessary, especially in the north. In Luang Prabang and the north night time temperatures can drop to a chilly 8-10C but rise quickly to over 20C in daytime. March through May are the hottest months, sometimes exceeding 40C for a few days. June through August are the rainy months, and high temperatures seldom exceed 28C due to extensive cloud cover. Nature is lush and the sun appears more often than expected, giving the perfect lighting for photography. September through November, the weather becomes increasingly dry, though heavy storms can still occur. 

March to April/May, is least recommended as the heat makes travels hard, river levels are very low on the Mekong and the air is often polluted by smoke from excessive slash and burning. The first rains occur in April around the Lao New Year, luckily cleaning the atmosphere and filling up the rivers and paddies with much needed water.

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL? ARE THEY ANY PLACE TO AVOID?
There is no mass tourism. Thus Laos remains very much a family place. In other words, everybody knows everybody. Crime is practically unheard of. Look for signs in airports and border checkpoints explaining typical tuk-tuk and taxi fares to frequent destinations. Should you experience anything odd or suspicious, contact your hotel desk and/or call the local TrustLao office, where somebody is reachable 24 hours a day—staff have mobile phones that are always with them. Never be reluctant to ask for assistance when you feel uncomfortable about something. Officials have probably been there before. They will know what to do—they are more efficient than they may appear at first glance.

Embassies and local travel personnel are in perfect positions to know the ins and outs of whether there are places not recommended to go. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to get information from the foreign affairs office online before traveling somewhere.

DOS & DON'TS
Common sense prevails. Watch what the locals do. Generally speaking, Lao culture is conservative. It is best to keep a low profile while maintaining patience and calm. And remember, wherever you go, local people will always be observing you, primarily out of curiosity due to the fact that foreigners are so rare. Smile a lot. Laos is a very personal place. Smiles are returned more quickly than you might expect, even when you don’t speak the local language. 

Don’t show signs of intimacy or kiss in public, be dressed decently and with long trousers, dresses and long sleeves, especially when entering religious places. Remove your shoes before entering a house, be polite during the monks’ alms giving taking a picture of filming etc. Ladies must never touch a monk or even the robe of a monk.

WHAT MONEY SHOULD I TAKE?
Traveler’s checks are accepted and can be exchanged just about everywhere at exchange offices. US dollars, Euros and Thai baths in cash are welcome at most shop or restaurant, although the policy is to promote the local currency Lao Kip. Many ATM are available in all important touristic cities Upon arrival, make sure to exchange some money into the local Kip for a first understanding of how Laos works. In Kip you will almost always get a fair deal.
Exchange as of November 2013 is LAK 7,800 for USD 1. 

WHAT ARE THE VISA REQUIREMENTS & CUSTOMS FORMALITIES? 
Visas on arrival are available at Wattay International Airport and the Friendship Bridge, Luang Prabang International Airport as well as at all international border points. The cost is USD 30 to USD 40 (plus USD 1 service charge), depending on the nationality and valid for 30 days. Day by day extensions are easily granted in Vientiane and in Luang Prabang at the Immigration office. Custom formalities are simple and do not take longer than a few minutes. Whereas the whole immigration process can take up to 30 minutes, if a plane has landed or numerous busses arrive at the checkpoints simultaneously.

At the checkpoints simultaneously. Note that the visas on arrival have been officially announced to be available at all border points, we have encountered problems with clients in the northeast of Laos. We therefore recommend for entries to Laos from Vietnam to check the availability of Visa on Arrival at the planned entry point.
 
Swiss and Luxemburg citizens may enter Laos without Visa for a tourist stay up to 15 days.

WHAT LANGUAGE WILL THEY UNDERSTAND?
In a country composed of more than 60 ethnics, Lao is the official language. Western languages such as French are still used and taught in school and at University. English is now the official international language in Laos. German is rarely used. Most German speaking local Lao guides graduated from former East German Universities. The same counts for Spanish former students in Cuba. Russia had close ties to Laos and has trained a lot of Lao elite. So it is not uncommon to that Russian, Vietnamese and French are spoken in the elite milieu. For Asian languages Chinese, Beijing dialect is spoken among Lao Chinese.

HOW ABOUT MY HEALTH?
Food stalls on sidewalks and roads are best avoided by sensitive stomachs, but hotel and restaurant food is fine. Ice is generally safe and bottled water will be served almost everywhere. Hotels have doctors on call, but for serious cases, immediate arrangements must be made to see a doctor or hospital in Thailand. Do not forget to use insect repellant when traveling overland and whenever eating at outdoor cafes in the late afternoon, early evening.

WHAT FOOD WILL I FIND? 
As other travel destinations cater to foreigners, this is also the case for Laos. Lao food has similarities with Thai food but is less spicy, less sweet but bitterer. Be also aware that most of the local restaurant use MSG. You will find international cuisine of almost every destination, including French, Italian, Indian, Japanese and Korean. Hotel restaurants are a good place to start and are not necessarily expensive. Then try restaurants like Amphone, Kua Lao, Mak Phet or Tamnak Lao in Vientiane that specialize in Lao food but cater to foreigners. Fish and vegetables are all local and of excellent quality. Lao beer is a good and very popular beer. Locals prefer spicy food but chefs know how to cook for foreigners. Still, a reminder to the waiter, should you not want chilly is always the safest bet!.

HOW IS THE SHOPPING? 
In Vientiane you will find Lao products from the whole country. The must-have for foreigners is the Lao bamboo basket “tip khao”, which is used for sticky rice in all parts of the country. Hand woven silk varies in design depending on province or cotton is becoming increasingly popular. Designed as bed spreads with application patterns the Hmong women have created a market. Luang Prabang silver products are well known for their fine quality, hill-tribe items with miniature embroidery by the Hmong and Yao are also popular. The best buys are in Vientiane due to the competition between vendors and for the choice. Luang Prabang night market is today the largest handicrafts market. Ranging from textiles to mulberry paper products, carved hangers and new opium weights there is a something for every taste. The bargains are great, as prices still very reasonable. Nobody is insulted, if you bargain, it is part of the fun and expected.

WHAT DO I TIP? 
Many eating establishments add 10% to the bill for service. Look for it. If it isn’t there, tip 5-10%. There is no need to tip tuk-tuk drivers or taxi drivers unless you really want to, but always negotiate the price of the ride first. Guides will be grateful to receive tips to supplement their modest salaries. Try to be as generous as you can, it is sincerely appreciated and will show your satisfaction.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ON LAOS? 
Many local pocket guides are available at hotels, restaurants and shops, free copies
 
To prepare your trip in advance, see
 www.tourismlaos.gov.la (Lao travel information)
 www.ecotourismlaos.com (all local ecotourism projects)
 www.laoairlines.com (Lao airlines schedule)
 www.photos-of-laos.org (pictures) 

Places of interest in Laos

LUANG PRABANG
The absolute must-see of Laos is Luang Prabang, a charming Buddhist temple town located on a peninsula between the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. It is one of the last fully intact ancient towns of Southeast Asia. Proclaimed World Heritage, with its beautiful and well-preserved monasteries, Luang Prabang can be visited in a mere 2 days or one can extend the visit to the surroundings and stay up to 1 week. The town is ideal to walk or cycle.

TrustLao Travel provides all guided tours and also activities like boat trips on the Mekong and treks to nearby villages. Wandering along the atmospheric streets and dozens of small lanes lined with temples in sleepy neighborhoods is a wonderful pass-time. Visit the local fresh market along the banks of the Mekong and the evening market with handicrafts and textiles sold by the many different ethnic groups of Laos. An early rise is worthwhile to see the morning rounds of the large numbers of Buddhist monks and novices that file the streets with alms bowls that quickly fill up. This is only one of many highlights the town has to offer.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang is increasingly living up to international standards with hotels such as La Residence Phouvao, Amantaka, Maison Souvannaphoum, Luangsay Residence, Hotel de la Paix, the Villa Maly, Palais Juliana and Villa Santi Resort & SPA. The centrally located Boutique Hotels such as The 3 Nagas, Villa Santi Hotel, Villa Maydou, the new Sanctuary Hotel, and Apsara are well appreciated and allow fully savoring the town’s flair. 

Luang Prabang Province offers many possibilities to discover the rural life of villages amid magnificent landscapes. On the way to Kuangsi Waterfall, at Ban Xieng Lom Elephant Village (Lao Spirit and Tad Sae) or on an overnight excursion to the Nam Ou area in the north, the local lifestyle of upcountry Laos can be experienced with Luang Prabang as a base.

VIENTIANE
Vientiane has suffered multiple sackings by Siamese armies, also explaining why the streets of this Asian capital are spacious and modern. The city’s layout reflects a strong French influence, a central square today marked by a fountain (Nam Phou) and all the biggest avenues leading to a Victory Gate (Patuxay), partially copied from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The National Monument of Laos is the golden That Luang Stupa located some 4-5 km outside the city center. Under the French rule during the thirties of the last century many temples and monasteries were restored such as the Vat Ho Phra Keo and Vat Sisaket. The Ho Prakeo formally housed the Emerald Buddha now on display in Bangkok, today this Buddhist Museum has some of the finest religious art objects on show.

During the French period a number of residential and administrative buildings were erected in colonial classical style such as the Presidential Palace, the national library and villas around That Dam Stupa and Lane Xang Avenue.

Vientiane features a large number of boutiques and markets for souvenir shopping. High quality handicrafts and textiles are available on the Morning Market (Talat Sao) or in the specialized crafts shops located in the streets leading to the Mekong. Opening times are late, so a walk on the river bank at sunset can be followed by some shopping in uniquely Lao boutiques.

Hotels in Vientiane are not numerous, but range from standard to luxury with Novotel, Don Chan Palace, Lao Plaza, Settha Palace, Green Park, Ansara Boutique Hotel and Salana Boutique Hotel, representing the largest. Smaller hotels such as Beau Rivage, Chanthapanya, Lao Orchid Hotel or the brand new Mandala are also gaining popularity.

VANG VIENG
At 160 kilometers north of Vientiane (3.5 hours by car) Vang Vieng is a medium sized town set in a spectacular limestone landscape reminding of Guilin in Southern China. Travelers increasingly choose the route overland between Vientiane and Luang Prabang to stay one or two nights in Vang Vieng. The surroundings of Vang Vieng are captivating in beauty and full of nature attractions. A day or more can easily be spent with activities such as exploring caves, kayaking or a boat trip on the Nam Song river, trekking, cycling or sun bathing – all is possible in this traveler hot-spot amidst paddies and karstic peaks.

Vang Vieng now features high class hotel with the Riverside Boutique Resort, and middle range class hotels like The Villa Nam Song, Elephant Crossing and Vansana Hotels and a considerable number of guesthouses on the river that offer a comfortable, if simple standard, place to relax and enjoy the scenic views.

VAT PHOU (CHAMPASAK)
Situated in southern Laos, this Pre-Angkorian temple dates back to the 8th century AD. This second World Heritage site in Laos is assumed to have been the capital of the first Khmer Kingdom before the Khmer Kings decided to move further south to the Ton Le Sap area. The site lies on a hill on the banks of the Mekong and offers a unique view of large ritual water reservoirs in rectangular shape. A day tour to Champasak town and Vat Phou ruins is possible from Pakse or coming from the south.

Recommended new accommodation is the La Folie Lodge located on an island in the Mekong just opposite the Vat Phou archeological site, the new The River Boutique Hotel, Sensothxeune, Villa Muong Khong and Pons’Arena on Don Khong Island, further south. In Pakse the new open Sisouk Residence, real Boutique Hotel.

KHONPHAPHENG WATERFALL
Situated at 155 kilometers south of Pakse, just before crossing the border to Cambodia, Khonphapheng Waterfalls draw many visitors as the largest waterfalls of Asia. 

PLAIN OF JARS
Along day drive north-east of Vientiane lies the Plain of Jars at 1400 m above sea level. The elevated plateau has a moving history as it was one of the most hard hit war zones during the bombings of the Second Indochina War. But the Plain of Jars gained fame long before this time. Until today it is strewn with hundreds of unique monolithic jars that are estimated to be more than 2000 years old. The purpose of the jars is unresolved, but the theory of a necropolis is more enigmatic than the local guess that rice wine might have been distilled here. Between the three sites open to visitors lie villages of Hmong, Tai Dam and Khmu ethnics. Phonesavanh the new provincial capital of Xieng Khouang is surrounded by gentle hills with pine trees.

Best accommodation at Phouphadeng Resort (charm hotel, a bit old) or the Vansana Hotel.

HOUAPHANH PROVINCE
Bordering Xieng Khouang to the northeast lies the Province of Houaphanh, one of the most remote provinces of Laos. On the way to Xam Neua, the provincial capital a worthwhile is at Hintang, yet another monolithic site, but predating the Plain of Jars. The stele and round stone tables of Hintang are found to mark family graves. Houaphanh is famous for being the political birthplace of the Lao PDR of today. An hour drive from Xam Neua in direction of Vietnam will bring you to the famous caves of Viengxay. A guided tour will take you to up to 6 of the 480 caves, which transformed Viengxay into a de facto cave city between 1964 and 1973. It was in these years that Laos became caught up in a secret war which remains largely ignored in world history. The caves were used to house leaders and fighters of the Pathet Lao army. Full self guided tour available with English sound.  

The province also offers beautiful landscapes of limestone forests, narrow valleys with terraced rice fields and inhabited by Hmong and other mountain people. Last but not least Houaphanh province is famous all over Laos and to connoisseurs abroad for its exquisite hand-woven silk textiles. Accommodation remains basic and traveling to this province is only possible with long days of driving on winding mountain roads.

LUANG NAMTHA PROVINCE
Luang Namtha province in the northwest of Laos is home to a great number of hill tribe people, who still follow their ancient traditions and wear their ethnic dress. Many of the ethnic groups originate from Yunnan or even the plateau of Tibet. Luang Namtha province was the first to cater to trekkers that wanted to visit remote villages in the Nam Ha Protected area. The habitat of many threatened species has plenty of activities for visitors who like to spend time in nature. Bordering the protected area are villages with swidden culture and beautiful rivers. Among the pioneers of ecotourism in Laos is the Boatlanding Guesthouse on the Nam Tha River - an idyllic lodge invites to good food and a rest after a long journey or trek.

 A traveler spot is Muang Sing, for encounters with its Akha people and also for its infamous proximity to the Golden Triangle. Nineteenth century Muang Sing was the place where French and British negotiators redesigned the borders between Burma and Laos. The two colonial powers decided to add the small independent Lu Kingdom to Laos’ territory. This region was always a land where trades and influences from China, Vietnam, Burma and Laos met. Today the predominance of China is showing to threaten the traditional livelihood of the locals. Where different ethnics used to trade amongst each other, the Chinese neighbors are increasingly exploiting local resources to the detriment of the local villagers and the environment.

Distances in KMS City to City:

 VIENTIANE - LUANG PRABANG - 395 KM IN 8 HRS
 VIENTIANE - PHONSAVAN - 405 KM IN 8 HRS
 VIENTIANE - SAVANNAKHET - 500 KM IN 7 HRS
 VIENTIANE - PAKSE - 723 KM IN 10 HRS
 VIENTIANE - LAKXAO - 345 KM IN 6 HRS
 VIENTIANE - VANG VIENG 160 KM IN 3.5 HRS
 LUANG PRABANG - OUDOMXAY - 197 KM IN 4 HRS
 OUDOMXAY - PHONGSALI - 240 KM IN 10 HRS
 OUDOMXAY - PAKBENG - 145 KM IN 3 HRS
 OUDOMXAY - NATEUY - 78 KM IN 3 HRS
 OUDOMXAY - NONG KIAO - 115 KM IN 4 HRS
 OUDOMXAY - LUANG NAMTHA - 118 KM IN 4 HRS
 OUDOMXAY - MUANG KHUA - 170 KM IN 3 HRS
 NA TEUY - LUANG NAMTHA - 40 KM IN 1 HRS
 NA TEUY BOTEN (CHN) - 18 KM IN 20 MINUTES
 LUANG NAMTHA - MUANG SING - 60 KM IN 2.5 HRS
 MUANG SING - XIENG KOK - 75 KM IN 3 HRS
 HOUEIXAY - LUANG NAMTHA - 185 KM IN 3.5 HRS
 LUANG PRABANG - XAIGNABOURI - 117 KM IN 4 HRS
 LUANG PRABANG - PHOU KHOUN - 130 KM IN 4 HRS
 PHOUKHOUN - PHONSAVAN - 140 KM IN 3.5 HRS
 LUANG PRABANG - VANG VIENG - 235 KM IN 6 HRS
 LUANG PRABANG - VIENTIANE - 395 KM IN 9 HRS
 SAVANNAKHET - LAO BAO (VTN) - 250 KM IN 4 HRS
 SAVANNAKHET - PAKSE - 236 KM IN 4 HRS
 PAKSE - ATTAPEU - 198 KM IN 3 HRS
 ATTAPEU - SEKONG - 80 KM IN 2 HRS
 CHAMPASAK - DONE KHONG - 100 KM IN 2.5 HRS
 PAKSE - TADLO - 90 KM IN 1.5 HRS
 PAKSE - CHONGMEK - 45 KM IN 30 MN
 CHONGMEK - UBON (THA) - 90 KM IN 1.5 HRS
 
BY BOAT 
 HOUEIXAY - PAKBENG - TRADITIONAL BOAT 6-7 HRS
 PAKBENG - LUANG PRABANG - TRADITIONAL BOAT 6-7 HRS
 LUANG PRABANG - PAKBENG - TRADITIONAL BOAT 7-8 HRS
 PAKBENG - OUEIXAY - TRADITIONAL BOAT 8 HRS
 NONG KIAO - LUANG PRABANG - TRADITIONAL BOAT 4 HRS
 NONG KIAO - MUANG NGOI KAO - TRADITIONAL BOAT 1 HR
 MUANG KHOUA - NONG KIAO - TRADITIONAL BOAT 5 HRS
 KHONG ISLAND - KONE ISLAND - TRADITIONAL BOAT 2 HRS
 PAKZE - CHAMPASAK - TRADITIONAL BOAT 3 HRS

Laos General information & conditions

RESERVATIONS
All tours and services can be booked directly with our office in Vientiane: 

Address:

TrustLao Travel

116/12 Chao Anou Road, Vatchan Village, Chanthabuly District, Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR

 T: (856 21) 250 553

 F: (856 21) 250 553 
 M:(856 20) 77700070  |  22852285 (Emergency phone)
 E-mail: info@trustlaotravel.com  |  sales@trustlaotravel.com 

Contact Persons:

 Mr. Amone Xayakoun - Sales & Maketing Manager 

 Ms. Mayula Duangpaseuth - Reservation Supervisor

 Mr. Korinsy Nhodbouxa - Hotel Booking Online Supervisor 

 Mr. Johnson Yew - General Manager

 Mr. Onchanh Boualivanh - Managing Director

CONFIRMATIONS
All reservation requests are normally confirmed by return e-mail or fax. In case immediate confirmation is not possible the client will be informed of the booking status.

RATES/VALIDITY:
All rates are quoted net to travel agents in US Dollars at current rates of exchange and are subject to change without prior notice. All rates are valid until September 30, 2012.

PAYMENT 
Full prepayment by bank transfer is required three weeks before commencement of services, with all bank transfers charges/fees to be paid by clients. Bank details are mentioned on the invoices.

CHILD POLICY
Tour Packages and hotels
- Up to 24 months old, sharing twin room with 2 adults: Free of charge, sharing bed with adults 
- Crib upon request, rate to be determined on a case-by-case basis                                                                                               -- 
Extra bed rates upon request

02-12 years, sharing twin room with 2 adults: 

25% discount with extra bed and breakfast 

50% discount without extra bed and without breakfast 

NOTE: Maximum 04 children are allowed at reduced rates, per party. 

It is advised to check case by case 

Some special tours might include slightly different child policy 

Excursions
Up to 24 months old Free of charge and 
02-12 years 50% discount 

CANCELLATIONS 
For cancellations of confirmed arrangements, a cancellation fee according to the costs incurred will be charged.
 
Tour Packages 
No Show 100 % charge
 7-1 days 50 % of the tour price
 14-8 days 30 % of the tour price
 21-15 days up 10 % of the tour price
 22 days up no charge 

Hotel reservations
Hotel cancellation policy varies according to the supplier and will be listed in booking details.

LIABILITY
TrustLaos Travel Sole Co., Ltd acts as intermediary between the concerned airlines, hotels, transport operator and local tourist offices providing the services. TrustLaos Travel. is therefore not responsible for any loss, injury or damage sustained by tourists, including those occurring outside the tour programs. Additional expenses incurred due to delay, accidents, natural disaster, political action and unrest must be borne by the tourists. Programs, prices, services, and conditions are based on those valid at the time of printing and are therefore subject to change without advance notice before or during the tour. Participation in our tour implies the tourist’s agreement to the above conditions.