Customs and Immigration: A valid transit, tourist visit, business, diplomatic, or service visa is required. All foreigners may enter and depart Laos via Wattay Airport, or Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, the Mekong border crossing with Nongkai, Thailand.
A visa can now be obtained upon arrival at the airport and other official entry points. However, certain regulations are applied.
Climate and Clothing: Light-weight washable cotton or cotton-blend clothes are suitable. A sweater or coat is needed for the winter and in upland areas.
Transportation: Public transportation is by bus, taxi and samlo (rickshaw). There are both metered and unmetered taxis. No railroad is available in Laos. Lao Aviation, Thai Airways International, Cambodia and Vietnam Airlines connect Wattay Airport of Vientiane to Bangkok, Yangon, Hanoi, Hochiminh City, Phnompenh and Kunming of China. Domestic flights shuttle daily between Lao cities. Mittaphab Bridge across the Mekong to Thailand opened in early 1994.
Health: Medical and dental facilities are mostly operated by the government. Private clinics and pharmacies are available in the major cities. The International Clinic is operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, to accommodate foreigners and diplomats. Medicines from France, USA, Russia, Thailand and China are widely available in most pharmacies.
Currency: Local currency is called Kip. One USD is worth approximately 8,000 kip (2012). Money can be exchanged at banks, authorized shops, or hotels. Exchange rates fluctuate every day, though fluctuation is tiny.
Banks: Banque pour le Commerce Exterier Lao, Sethathirath Bank, Nakornluang Bank, Joint Development Bank, and Thai branch banks.
Traveler’s Checks and credit cards can be used at major banks, some hotels, restaurants and shops.
Electricity: 220 volts at 50 HZ
Major Events and Traditional Festivals
- 1 January New Year
- 13-15 April Lap New Year (Pimai)
- 1 May International Labor Day
- End of May Rocket Festival
- Mid-October End of Buddhist Lent & Boat Races
- Beginning of November That Luang Festival
- 2 December Lao’s National Day.