Laos is viewed as a hidden gem in Southeast Asian that is attracting more and more tourists in recent years. Therefore, traveling to Laos needs planning carefully to have a cost-effective trip. After registering your Lao eVisa with us, taking note of these tips before booking your trip is very essential.
The more popular tourist destinations are, the wider range of types of accommodation you may find. Moreover, the influx of foreign visitors into the country has led to a rapid increase in the number of hotels and improved standards in tourist centers. As squat toilets are still common at the very cheapest hostels, you should ask carefully before booking the room in case of inconvenience.
The Lao Kip is the currency of Laos, which has the currency code is LAK, and the currency symbol is ₭. Prices for the most basic double room start at around 30,000 to 40,000₭ in the provinces and from 40,000₭ to 70,000₭ in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Unless you stay in big cities like Vientiane or Luang Prabang, dorm beds are not so popular in Laos and only usually found in the main tourist areas. At these prices, rooms can be pretty shabby, although there are a few diamonds in the rough. Therefore, you should thoroughly consider whether you need to pay higher to buy yourself considerably more comfort. If you are able to spend around USD$ 25 (200,000₭), you can actually get enough facilities, like wi-fi internet access, flat-screen TV, air conditioner and bathtub.
The list below is our personal recommendations on the best places to stay in Laos which is suitable for every type of travel budget, from fun hotels to serene hostels.
- Downtown Backpackers in Laos: This hostel is just in walking distances away from the Night Market, so it is ideal for backpackers who want to save transportation fees.
- LBQ Backpackers Hotel: This hostel, although very basic, still offers enough facilities for a good night’s sleep. They offer all types of rooms which are both air-conditioned. Prices start at USD$ 5 a night for a dorm room bed while the private rooms run at $12.50 for two people. In addition, the hostel itself has a nice pool table which serves as a sociable place to meet other people. Apart from that, the hostel also offers free breakfast.
- Mekong River View Hotel: The hotel boasts a stunning view of Mekong River, so booking a room with a balcony will help you get the view while enjoying breakfast.
Tourists can enter Laos through only 5 ports: Wattay International Airport (Vientiane Capital), Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I (Vientiane Capital), Luang Prabang International Airport (Luang Prabang Province), Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II (Savannakhet Province), Pakse International Airport.
When traveling to Laos by boat, you have a chance to immerse yourself in the natural scenery under the green high mountains, the peace of the local life, or enjoy the fresh air with a little breeze, all of the things to make your wonderful trip in Laos.
Towns throughout Laos are pretty easy to walk around without using any other form of transportation. However, for long-distance travel, Tuk Tuk is more preferred because it is cheaper and more common. Taxi is also another popular option. Do not think about hiring a bike to commute around Lao street. Though the traffic does not seem to be too crazy, it is so dangerous for tourists who have not got used to the traffic system in Laos. Therefore, do not hesitate about spending money on transport services.
The primary way to get from city to city is by bus, but if you’re going a long distance, local buses are cheaper than VIP busses.
- Vientiane to Luang Prabang: Overnight bus, about 10 hours for $10 – $15 (87,000 to 131,000 Kip).
- Pakse to Savannakhet: 5-hour bus ride on a local bus for $5 (44,000 Kip).
- Savannakhet to Muong Khong in southern Laos: 8-hour bus ride on a local bus for $9 (78,500 Kip).
Another method of commuting from town to town is the “Songthaew” (a bus-truck where guests sit in the back of it). Each trip may cost around $1 – $3 (10,000 – 26,000 Kip) per hour. Otherwise, renting a motorcycle is also an optimal solution, which costs about $8 – $10 (70,000 – 87,000 Kip) in most places.
Food can be quite cheap in Laos, but food prices inflate in tourist areas. Street food is a specialty of Asian countries in general and Laos in particular. Eating local food on the street or buying food from the market can cost less than $5.00 per day. Don’t be afraid to haggle a little bit, especially if you intend to buy more than one item. Once visiting Laos, tourists must know the common prices that correspond to a dish.
- Cheap: less than 25,000 kips (about USD 3).
- Average prices: from 25,000 to 60,000 kips (3-7 USD).
- Chic: 60,000 to 100,000 kips (7-12 USD).
Beer in Laos is a pretty good price, 640 ml bottles of decent Beerlao run at about 8000 – 10,000 Kip ($1 – $1.25).
4. Shopping and souvenirs
Weaving products are the most widespread and typical souvenir that most tourists often buy once visiting Laos. Each region has its own style of silks or cotton fabrics. Laotian silk is expensive but of very good quality. However, beautifully carved objects in wood or horn can be easily found here, but objects like Buddha, animals, are rather expensive.
While go shopping in Vientiane, tourists can enjoy a few cups of coffee or buy them in the production area Coffee and tea Bolavens, located in Bolaven Plateau. You can find some in Vientiane, otherwise, you can even buy them in their production area in Pakse or Paksong coffee and tea plantations. When making a tour to the organic coffee or tea farm, tourists can observe local people who are plating, hatching and producing the product. Moreover, tourists can join a hand with them, then taste the pure coffee and tea flavor that is produced right at the plantation.
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