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Posted date: 22/06/2018
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  • VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE 


Vietnam Climate
Vietnam’s climate varies considerable from region to regionThe North
April to October: temperatures between 30-35°C with occasional bursts of heavy rain.
December to March: temperatures between 10-15°C. February and March can be damp with drizzle and overcast skies.

The Centre
Nha Trang: sunshine all year round apart from November and December when the area has heavy rain.
Da Lat: cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March.
Da Nang and Hue: typhoons from mid-October to mid-December

The South
May to October: hot and wet
November to April: hot and humid

  • For the best balance, try the months of April, May or October;
  • For those sticking to the south, November to February is dry and a touch cooler;
  • From July to November, violent and unpredictable typhoons hit central and northern Vietnam.

If you are going to Vietnam during the Tet holiday – the biggest festival in the country, which often falls in late January or early February, it’s a nice idea but not ideal as the whole country is on the move and prices rise significantly
 
Vietnam Food & Drinks
Vietnamese cuisine features a combination of five fundamental tastes including spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth). Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, and fruits and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.
 
Though the mainstream culinary tradition throughout the country share some key features of freshness, herbs and vegetables, broths and display, Vietnamese dishes vary from region to region. From north to south, you will find a delicious variety on offer, influenced from China, Thailand, India and French.

In the north, the foods are often less spicy than in other regions. In general, northern cuisine is not bold in any particular taste but feature light and balanced flavors that result from subtle combinations of many different flavoring ingredients. Notable dishes are PHO – perhaps the most famous one, BUN CHA (rice noodle with grilled pork), CHA CA LA VONG (rice noodle with grilled fish)
The central Vietnam’s cuisine is known for its spicy food and sophisticated meals consisting of many complex dishes served in small portions, which sets it apart from the two other regions. Hue, the country’s former capital is considered the culinary center of the region features highly decorative and colorful food that reflect the influence of ancient Vietnamese royal cuisines. Some signature dishes are BUN BO HUE, BANH KHOAI, CAO LAU

Food in the South is vibrant and flavorful as a result of the warm weather and fertile soil of the region. Southern people prefer to add more sugar in dishes than other regions. The vast shorelines also make seafood a natural staple for the South. Ho Chi Minh, the biggest city in Vietnam, is one of the best 10 places in the world to have street food, according to Forbes. Popular dishes includes BANH MY, HU TIEU, BANH XEO
 
  
Vietnam Shopping Tips
Vietnam has fantastic shopping opportunities so it’s well worth setting aside half a day or so. Popular shopping sites include Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, each has a wide selection of everything from art to luxurious silk suits. Here are some of the best buys:
 
Vietnamese art and antiques
Both traditional and modern paintings are available. Sophisticated works are on display in art galleries while cheaper ones are sold in souvenir shops along streets. Favorable specialties are the instant antique like teapot or ceramic plates. Vietnam has strict regulations on the export of real antiques, thus remember to check carefully the origin as well as the exporting capacity of the item. Most reputable shops can provide the necessary paperwork. 

Clothing
Ao Dai, the national dress for Vietnamese women, are a popular item to take home. Ready-to-wear Ao Dai are available in big tourist attractions like Hanoi, Hoi An or Ho Chi Minh City. A tailor-made one will cost you more. Hoi An town in the central region is known for its local tailors, here you can get almost every kind of clothing that can be customized to meet your need within a day or two. The price is affordable and the quality will surely satisfy you. 

Handicrafts
Lacquerware, brocades, ceramics, colorful embroidery, silk, oil painting, carpets, jewelry and leather work, all are on offers with reasonable price. 

Tips: Bargaining 
Remember to ask the price before you buy a thing. Walk around and draw a comparison between shops with similar items in case you’re not sure. Bargaining should be good-natured, smile and don’t get angry or argue. In some case, you will be able to get a 50% discount or more, at other times this may be only 10%.
 
Vietnam Transportation
How to travel throughout Vietnam by air, road, train and co.
 
By air
Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi are the two main arrival terminals for foreign visitors coming to Vietnam. Tan Son Nhat is the country’s largest airport handling 75% of international passenger traffic.

By land
Vietnam shares land border with Cambodia, China and Laos. There are plenty of border crossing open to tourists with each neighbor.

From Cambodia
  • Bavet (or Moc Bai)
  • Kaam Samnor (or Vinh Xuong)
  • Phnom Den (or Tinh Bien)
From Laos
  • Donsavanh (or Lao Bao)
  • Nam Phao (or Cau Treo)
  • Nam Can
  • Tay Trang
From China
  • Youyi Guan (or Huu Nghi Quan – English name is Friendship Pass)
  • Hekou (or Lao Cai)
  • Dongxing (or Mong Cai)

How to transport throughout Vietnam

By plane
There are 21 major civil airports including 3 international gateways in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam has good domestic flight connections with new routes opening up all the times with affordable price. There are several domestic carriers including Vietnam Airlines 4*** – the national airline, and several private airlines areJetstar, VietJetAir ( economic airlines )

By train
The railway is the least developed transportation infrastructure in Vietnam. Most of the network was built during the French colonial period and has not been expanded up to now. However there are various programs for restorations and upgrades. Nevertheless, trains are a more comfortable way to travel throughout the country though the prices are more expensive than bus.

The main cross-country railway from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is commonly known as the Reunification Express. The line was originally built by French colonists in 1936 with a total length of 1,726km. Repeatedly bombed during the war with the United States, the service didn’t start running properly again until 1976 when the Geneva Accords were signed, and divisions between North and South were resolved. The train has two types of service, express (SE) and local (TN) with different durations depending on the number of stops.

By bus
Long-distance buses connect most cities and provinces in Vietnam.

By car
Car is very popular means of transport for traveling at your own pace

By bike
Bikes are a greater way to get around Vietnam, especially when you get off the beaten path, in the rural countryside. Travel on two wheels, you are often greeted by enthusiastically locals. Long-distance cycling route is popular as much of the country is flat or moderately hilly, major roads are in good condition. Decent bikes can be bought in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Hotels and some travel agencies also have bike for rent.

Motorbike
Ride a motorbike gives you maximum flexibility to visit remote areas and stop whenever you like. Remember to wear a helmet as it is compulsory when riding a motorbike in Vietnam.

Local transport
Cyclo, xe om ( public motobiker)
 
Vietnam Practical Info
The information about traveling in Vietnam, public holidays, money, health and safety, so on.
 
1. Visa to Vietnam
 
There are some ways to do arrange visa to Vietnam
  •  You can do visa in advance at Vietnam’s Embassy at your country but there are some weakness and strength for this way 
    Weakness
    - If living a small city you stay do not have Vietnam’s embassy you will have to transfer to big city or capital to do Vietnam’s visa. it is very waste time and money
    - More expensive

    Strength
    - When you have visa in advance, arriving airport you will save time to avoid waiting in line to do procedure to enter Vietnam
     
  •  You can do visa upon arrival
    What is a 'Visa on Arrival?':
    This is most likely the easiest way to obtain your visa without having to chase down embassies, consulates and the like prior to your trip. The entry Vietnam visa will be stamped on your passport at the Visa On Arrival Desk at the International Airport in Vietnam (VN). Then you can pass through the Immigration checking point. With this type of visa, you only can enter the country by air.

    How to get a Visa on Arrival?
    We get a Visa on Arrival Approval Letter for you from the Vietnam Immigration Department. After obtaining the approval letter, we will forward you a copy by fax or email. Copies of the same document will be forwarded on your behalf to Vietnam Immigration checkpoints at International Airports only, so when you arrive in Viet Nam, the Immigration officers will have those documents on hand and will be able to issue your entry visa at once. Please remember to bring at least 02 photos of passport regulation size (2in x 2in or 4cm x 6cm) and cash (US dollars) for the stamping fees.

    How to get a Visa on Arrival?
    Step 1: Send us Copy pass port
    Step 2: We get a Visa on Arrival Approval Letter for you from the Vietnam Immigration Department.
    Step 3: After obtaining the approval letter ,we will forward you a copy by fax or email. Copies of the same document will be forwarded on your behalf to Vietnam Immigration checkpoints at International Airports only
    Step 4: when you arrive in Viet Nam, the Immigration officers will have those documents on hand and will be able to issue your entry visa at once. Please remember to bring at least 02 photos of passport regulation size (2in x 2in or 4cm x 6cm) and cash (US dollars) for the stamping fees.

    Fee for this service
    Approval letter fee to pay direct us : USD 10 per person for single visa letter and USD 15 for Multiple for Visa letter
    Fee you have to pay at the airport is the Stamping fees - which you will be required to pay directly at the airport: US$ 25/Single Entry or US$ 50/Multiple Entry

    NORMAL PROCESSING FOR APPROVAL LETTER: 3 - 4 working days
    URGENT PROCESSING: 1 - 2 working day (charged case by case)

    2. Internet access
    Internet and wi-fi is widely available throughout Vietnam. Most hotels, restaurants, cafes offer wi-fi for free. In remote areas, however the connection is quite bad.

    3. Telephone & post office
    You can make international phone calls in Vietnam but the prices are not cheap. Vietnamese SIM cards are an affordable way of calling to other countries.
There are three cell networks in Vietnam: Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobile. Viettel has the largest network and most customers, closely followed by Vinaphone. Viettel removed roaming charges in Laos and Cambodia in early 2017. It’s still cheaper to buy local SIMs in each place, but it’s now much more affordable for those wanting to use the same SIM in all three countries Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
 
Prices for a data-only Vinaphone SIM very reasonable — the SIM card and a 5GB/30 day package cost 100,000 VND (around $5 USD).
For those who need calls and texts as well, there were many different packages available. Expect to pay 150,000-250,000 VND depending on how much data, call and SMS credit is included.

The postal service in Vietnam is reliable and there are courier services widely available. Do not put postcards into letter boxes, give them to your hotel or post or go to a post office.
 
 
4.  Electricity
 
Electricity in Vietnam is 220V, with a frequency of 50hz, the following plugs are used:


5. Business hour
Opening hours vary very little throughout the year.

Restaurants: 8 am – 2pm  &  3pm –9pm

Banks: 8am–4pm weekdays, 8am–11.30am Saturday

Offices and museums: 7am or 8am to 5pm or 6pm. Museums generally close on Monday.

Temples and pagodas: 8am–6pm

Shops: 8am–9pm

6. Public holiday

If a holiday falls during the weekend, it is observed on the following days.
Jan 1 – New Year
Jan or Feb – Tet holiday ( Lunar New Year )
10th day of the third lunar month – Hung Kings Commemoration
April 30 – Reunification Day
May 1 – May Day (International Workers’ Day)
Sep 2 – National Day

7. Traveling with children
The Vietnamese people love children as they always become big attractions and everybody wants to play with them. Big cities have lots of things to keep kids interested and vice versa in small town and rural areas. There have amazing beach but pay attention to any playtime in the sea as there are some big riptides along the main coastline. Some popular beaches have warning flags and lifeguards, but at quieter beaches parents should test the current first. Seas around Phu Quoc Island are more sheltered.

Baby supplies are available in the most cities and town, but dry up quickly in the remote areas. You’ll find cots in most midrange and top-end hotels, but not elsewhere. There are no safety seats in rented cars or taxis, but some restaurants can find a high chair.

Breastfeeding in public is quite common in Vietnam, but there are few facilities for changing nappies (diapers) other than using toilets and bathrooms. For kids who are too young to handle chopsticks, most restaurants also have cutlery.

The main worry throughout Vietnam is keeping an eye on what strange things infants are putting into their mouths. Their natural curiosity can be a lot more costly in a country where dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis are commonplace. Anti-bacterial hand gel (bring from home) is a great idea. Also remember to keep their hydration levels up and slap on the sunscreen.

8. Women travelers
Vietnam is relatively a peaceful and safe country so women travelers do not have to face any particular safety issues. That said, there are certain things female travelers should keep in mind when visiting Vietnam. Beside some obvious points like don’t walk alone in late night or in remote areas or being seriously drunk, following are some advices you should take into consideration to ensure a perfect trip in this Asian country:

• When it comes to clothing, it is advisable to follow the local style of dressing.
• Female solo travelers are likely to become victims for pick pockets, bag snatchers and frauds. It is necessary to pay attention to your luggage and valuable items at all times.
• If traveling alone, you are likely to be bombarded with question about your marital status, home, family and personal life. It might be a bit annoying at first, but take it easy as it is just part of Eastern culture.
• Friends in Vietnam do not hug or kiss each other as greetings. So not to make any misunderstanding for your local male friends. Be sure to leave a copy of your itinerary with friends or family at your hometown and keep in touch with them regularly.

9. Money & cost
The Vietnam’s official currency is the Dong (VND or d). US dollars are widely accepted in tourist attractions or big shopping malls. Visa and master card are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and large stores, particularly in big cities. ATMs are popular throughout the country. You can find a number of international banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

10. Health and safety
Health care in Vietnam varies in quantity and quality. Big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh have a good health care system while in remote areas are not.

Pharmacies can be found in almost town.

Recommended vaccinations

The only vaccination required by international regulation is yellow fever.

Before you go:
- Pack any medications in clearly labeled box
- Bring a letter from your doctor describing your medical conditions and medications
- If you have a heart condition, bring a copy of a recent ECG

11. Insurance
Don’t travel without health insurance.
Vietnam is generally a safe country to visit.
Emergency contact number: 113 (Police), 114 (Fire), 115 (Ambulance)
 
                                                     CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE 


Cambodia Practical Information
The information about electricity, currency, health and safety, internet, business hour, public holidays, travelling with children and women, and so on.
  •  Electricity
Electricity in Cambodia is 230V, with a frequency of 50 Hz, the following plugs are used:

           

Type A: This socket has no alternative plugs   Type C: This socket also works with plug E and F       Type G: This socket has no alternative plugs



Currency
Cambodia’s official currency is the riel (abbreviated “r”) written after the sum. The riel banknotes include 100r, 200r, 500r, 1000r, 2000r, 5000r, 10,000r, 20,000r, 50,000r and 100,000r. The US dollars are accepted everywhere and sometimes preferred. In the western region, the Thai baht (B) is also popular.

AMTs are only widely available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville. So you should bring cash in small notes which are clean, free from rips and tears.

Tipping
Tipping is not traditionally expected here, but in a poor country like Cambodia, it is highly encouraged. Consider tipping guides and drivers because the time they spend on the road with you mean being far away from their home and family.

It is also considered proper to make some donation when visiting a wat or temples, especially if a monk has shown you around. Most of these places have contribution boxes for this purpose.

Health & safety
Although no vaccinations are officially required for entering Cambodia, they are highly encouraged. Travelers are advised to check with their doctor or hospital regarding protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B. Any special medications should be brought with as while traveling because there is no guarantee they will be available in Cambodia

Drink lots of water. Never drink tap water purified, bottled water is available everywhere with affordable price.

Since Cambodia has tropical climate, use insect repellent against mosquitoes and casual and light-weight clothing is the best. Also remember to bring hat, sunblock and sunscreen.

Telephone
Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available but can be expensive.

Pre-paid SIM cards are popular but require a valid passport to buy. A guest house or tuk-tuk drivers can also buy one for you.

The easiest way to make a local call in most urban areas is by heading to one of many small private booths on the kerbside. Many internet shops offer cheap international calls, and you can Skype for the price of an internet connection.

Internet access
Internet is widespread in Cambodia. Many hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and cafés also offer free wi-fi, especially in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap – the two main tourist cities.

Post office
Post in Cambodia is routed by air through Bangkok, making the service much more reliable than in the past. International postcards should arrive in 2 weeks, and in 1 week within Asia. Domestic rates are cheap, but international customs fees and rates can be high.

Business hours
The business hours are subjects to change throughout the year. The below are supposed to be in the high season:

Banks: 8am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday
Government offices: 7.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday
Bars: 5pm to late night
Restaurants: 7am to 9pm
Shops 8am to 6pm daily

Public holiday
The festivals and holidays of Cambodia are subject to change every year based on the lunar calendar. During public holidays, all bank offices, ministries and embassies are closed, so you should plan carefully if visiting the country these days. The Cambodians also roll over holidays if they fall on weekend and take one or two day extra in major festivals.

International New Year’s Day: Jan 1
Victory Day: Jan 7
International Women’s Day: Mar 8
Khmer New Year: Apr 14-16
Visaka Bochea: April or May
Labor Day: May 1
Royal Ploughing Ceremony: May
King Sihamoni's Birthday: May 13-15
International Children's Day: Jun 1
Queen Mother's Birthday: Jun 18
Constitution Day: Sep 24
Pchum Ben Festival: Sep or Oct
King Father's Commemoration Day: Oct 15
Paris Peace Agreement Day: Oct 23
Independence Day: Nov 9
Water Festival: Oct or Nov
Human Rights Day: Dec 10

Traveling with children
The Cambodians love children so they can live it up here.

When it comes to care for babies, you can find almost everything you’ll need in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but supplies dry up quickly elsewhere. Cot beds are available in international standard midrange and top-ends hotels.

Women travelers
In general, Cambodia is a pleasant place to travel. Women visitors are unlikely to be targeted by local men and will possibly find Khmer men to be courteous and polite. In spite of that, you should be careful, for your own safety, when walking or riding alone late at night or in the remote area, it’s best to come with a travel companion.

Khmer women dress fairly conservatively. Then you are advised to follow suit, especially when visiting temples or pagoda. Long-sleeved shirts and trousers or skirts are preferred.

Gay & lesbian travelers
While Cambodian culture is tolerant of homosexuality, the gay and lesbian scene here is unlike that in Thailand. The former King Norodom Sihanouk once supported equal rights for same-sex partners, which seems to encourage more open attitude among younger Cambodians. Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have a few gay-friendly bars. Though there is little consideration over how traveling foreigners are related, it is prudent not to flaunt your sexuality. As with heterosexual couples, passionate public displays of affection are considered unacceptable.

Travelers with disabilities
Travelers with disabilities will need to do research before visiting Cambodia as the country presents considerable challenges, but they are not insurmountable. Some small guesthouses and hotels will not cater to travelers with disabilities, but the bigger and more established ones do. In Angkor Wat, some parts of the temples are inaccessible to wheelchair-bound visitors because of the irregular paving and simple the nature of the temples. In town and cities, sidewalks are usually heavily potholed and uneven. Good news is new buildings and top-end hotels, airports have ramps for wheelchair access.

The most important point for a successful trip to Cambodia if you are disabled is a lot of planning in advance. Useful organizations are Mobility International USA, Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation and Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality.

Pre-departure checklist / before you go / during the journey (some emergency)
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry and photocopy
  • Visa or a passport-sized photo and fee
  • Vaccinations
  • All relevant tickets
  • Lightweight clothing
  • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
 
  
Cambodia Culture & Customs
Experiencing different cultures is one of the things that make traveling worthy.

Temples visiting rule
Cambodia is the country of temples, it is important to follow the following simple rules:
  • Dress properly and act with the utmost respect when visiting wats and religious sites including Angkor Wat
  • Do not wear shorts or tank tops. Remember to cover your shoulders and knees.
  • Remove your shoes, hat, glassy before entering a monastery
  • Don’t point your finger or the soles of your feet towards a person or a Buddha statue
  • If you are women, never touch a monk
Cambodia Food and Drinks
Khmer cuisine, considered one of the healthiest in the world, has many similarities to those of its neighboring Thailand without spicy, and Vietnam due to its shared colonial French era. Curries, stir tried vegetable, rice, noodle and soups are staples of the Khmer diet.
 
Perhaps the most well-known dish is amok, a coconut based curry traditionally cooked with fish. Phnom Penh is the best place to try Khmer cuisine though Siem Reap has some good restaurants. To acquaint yourself with Khmer cooking, you should wander around food stalls in markets

Cambodia Transportation
There are two international airports in Cambodia, in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and a wide selection of land borders with neighboring in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Formalities at the country’s airports are pretty smoother than at borders.
 

Arrival by air is popular for those on a short holiday, as traveling overland to or from Cambodia put a dent in the time in-country. Visitors on longer trips usually enter and exit by land, as road and river transport are affordable in Cambodia.

How to travel throughout Cambodia
  • Bus is the most popular form of transport for most travelers, connecting all major cities and tourist attractions
  • A private car is an affordable option if you want to be comfortable or have time limits
  • Motorbike is an amazing way to travel as you will be free to explore the country
  • Travel by air is quite expensive with domestic flights link Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
  • Boat

Cambodia Climate
Cambodia has a tropical climate that is relatively calm and consistent throughout the year.The average temperature is 27 degree Celsius. There are two distinct seasons. The rainy (May to October) can see temperatures drop to 22 degree Celsius and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry lasts from November to April, the temperature can rise up to 40 degree Celsius around April.
                                           
                                            
LAOS TRAVEL GUIDE

Laos Practical Information

The information about travelling in Laos, money, business hour, telephone and internet, public holidays, 


Visa to Laos
 
1. Your original passport with at least 6 months of remaining
2. A Visa application form, filled and signed by the applicant (available at visa booth at Lao ports of entry or download it here (in the box).
3. Two(2) recent passport-type photographs.
4. Visa fee (cash)

Visa on Arrival Fee
Below is a list of visa fee for different countries. If your country is not on the list, it probably costs you $US30 to get the visa or you're not eligible for getting Laos visa on arrival. 
Country      Price (US Dollar)

Australia      30
Canada        42
China           20
India            40
Sweden        31
USA             35
UK               35
Others          30

Although Thai Baht is also accepted I'd recommend paying your visa fee in US dollars unless you really run out of them. If you chose to pay in Thai Baht it will cost you around 1,500 Baht which is roughly US$46 (I don't know how they come to this figure).

One thing to remember when in Laos is, if you want to save, it is better to pay in the currency quoted whether it is US dollars, Lao Kip or Thai Baht to avoid converting from one currency to another. You might want to apply this strategy when paying your hotels, restaurant and shopping bills especially if it is a large sum of money.

Note: On weekends, Lao public holidays and from 6 - 8am and after 4pm weekdays, there is a $1 over time fee, in addition an entry fee (2,500 Kip or so) may be charged.

Procedures
In most ports of entry including the Lao international border crossing points and Lao International Airports (Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and Savannakhet) the Visa on Arrival window is located at the arrival channel (before the immigration window).

Line up at the visa window (don't waste your time lining up at the immigration window if you don't have the visa yet), get the visa application form at the window and fill it out (if you arrive by plane, the form should be given to you before landing). Then hand it in together with your passport, 2 photographs and the Visa fee to the officer, and wait to be called.
 

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

   
 
Electricity
 
Electricity in Laos is 230V, with a frequency of 50hz, the following plugs are used:
    
                                 


 
Money 

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)

Language
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.

Practicalities
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.

Laos Transportations

 
  • By air
Laos has several international airports in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and Savannakhet.
  • By land
With many border crossing points with Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China, Laos is easily accessible by land. Most land border crossing points issue Lao visa on arrival.

How to getting around Laos

• Air
Lao Airlines is the national carrier and monopolizes the majority of flights in and out of the country. For domestic flights, Vientiane is the main hub.

• Boat
More than 4600km of navigable rivers are the highways and byways of traditional Laos, the main thoroughfares being the Mekong, Nam Ou, Nam Khan, Nam Tha, Nam Ngum and Se Kong.

Whether it’s on a tourist boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang or on a local boat in some remote regions, it’s still worthwhile doing at least one river excursion while in Laos.

• Car & motorcycle
Road infrastructure in Laos is pretty basic.

 Local transport:
  • Bus: Vientiane is the only city offer local bust though they’re not much use to travelers.
  • Jumbo, Sǎam-lâaw, Sakai-làep, Tuk-tuk: the many three-wheeled vehicles found in Vientiane and other regions have different names depending on where you are.
  • Taxi: Vientiane has a handful of taxis that are used by foreign business people and the occasional tourist, though in other cities a taxi of sorts can be arranged.
  • Bus, Sǎwngthǎew & Lot Doi Saan: Long-distance public transport in Laos is either by bus or sŏrngtăaou (literally 'two rows'), which are converted pick-ups or trucks with benches down either side. Private operators have established VIP buses on some busier routes, offering faster and more luxurious air-con services that cost a little more than normal buses.
Laos Shopping Tips
Vientiane and Luang Prabang are the main shopping centers. However, it is good if you can buy Lao products and souvenirs directly from the locals and in many traditional handicraft villages. There is a total ban on the export of antiques and Buddha images from Laos.
 

Bargaining in most places in Laos is not aggressive as in other regions of Southeast Asia. Good bargaining will help to cut cost. In general, Lao people are gentle and very scrupulous in their bargaining practices. The really important point is trying to get a fair price that both buyer and vender end up happy. In a country as cheap as Laos, it’s just not worth to get angry in a deal.

Several items for shopping

 Carvings: Laos is noted for its well-crafted wood, bone and stone, from Hindu or Buddhist mythology to themes from daily life.
  • Fabric: textiles are among the finest, most recognizable and most popular items to buy while you’re in Laos. Silk and cotton fabrics are woven in many different styles vary from region to region and from ethnicity of the weavers.
     
  • Jewelry: god and silver jewelry are good buys here though you may search hard for well-made products.
 
Laos Food and Drinks
Lao food are often overwhelmed by the more famous cuisines of neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, however, you can eat well in Laos if you take time to dig deeper and learn about the cuisine while you’re here. The result may be very rewarding.
 

Though Lao food has something similar to Thai’s due to a long shared history, some aspects of its culinary are distinctive. The most obvious one is sticky rice which is eaten by hand and ever-present in almost every meal. In fact, the Lao eat more sticky rice than any other people in the world. It is considered the essence of what it means to be Lao, one of the main identifiers of Lao culture

The most famous Lao dish is larb, a spicy mixture of marinated meat or fish that is sometimes raw (prepared like ceviche) with a variable combination of herbs, greens, and spices. Another Lao delectable invention is a spicy green papaya salad dish known as tam mak hoong or more famously known to the West as som tam.

Lao cuisine varies from region to region, corresponding in part to the fresh foods local to each region. A French legacy is still evident in the capital city, Vientiane, where baguettes are sold on the street and French restaurants are common and popular, which were first introduced when Laos was a part of French Indochina.

Lao coffee is called Pakxong coffee grown on the Bolovens Plateau around the town of Pakxong. There are two popular types of traditional alcoholic beverages, both produced from rice: lao hai and lao lao. Lao hai means jar alcohol and is served from an earthen jar. It is communally and competitively drunk through straws at festive occasions. Lao lao or Lao alcohol is more like a whiskey.

The Beer Laos has become more famous in Laos and is highly regarded by both locals and travelers alike.
 
Laos Climate
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons. The rainy season starts from May to October and the dry season from November to February. Through most of the country has a warm temperature year-round, it can be cold in the mountainous area. It is hottest in March and April when temperatures can reach 38 degree Celsius. The lowest temperature is usually in December with the temperature 15 degree Celsius.

Laos has three distinct seasons:
  • Hot season (Mar – May): temperature can reach 40oC
  • Wet season (May – Oct): temperatures are around 30oC, tropical downpours are frequent (July – Aug)
  • Dry season (Nov – Mar): low rainfall and low temperature around 15oC. This is the best time to visit the country.
 

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