Visa, Gateways & Border crossings

Visas

All visitors entering Laos must possess valid passports. Visas can be obtained for 30 days from Lao Embassies and Consulates abroad, or on arrival at international border checkpoints. The visa fee varies from US$20 to 45 depending on your citizenship. It requires a passport valid 6 months and two photos. It is possible to extend the visa at the Immigration office in Vientiane and through travel agencies.

An additional 1 USD/person can be charged if you arrive on a weekend, public holiday or after usual working hours.

Gateways

Laos has four international airports in Vientiane, Pakse, Savannakhet, and Luang Prabang which are connected to most Asian regional capitals.  Lao Airlines flies to most of them and serves as well the domestic routes connecting to major destinations in the country. All airport taxes are now included into the flight ticket price.

Laos shares overland borders with Myanmar and China to the north, Thailand to the west, Cambodia to the south and Viet Nam to the east.

Border checkpoints

Cambodia – Laos

  • Pra Preng Krian – Nong Nok Khian, Cambodia to Champassak Province

China-Laos

  • Mohan-Boten, Yunnan to Luang namtha Province
  • Xiangkok riverport on Mekong River in Luang Namtha Province (no visa on arrival)

Myanmar – Laos

  • Vangpung – Ban Mom, Thachilek to Bokeo Province  (no visa on arrival)

Thailand – Laos

  • Chiangkhong – Houixay, Chiang Rao to Bokeo Province.
  • Houi Koln – Nam Ngeun, Nan to Sayabouly Province
  • Nakaxeng – Kaenthao, Loei to Sayabouly Province
  • Lao- Thai Friendship Bridge I, Nongkhay – Vientiane Capital
  • Bungkan – Pakxan, Nongkhay – Bolikhamxay Province (no visa on arrival)
  • Nakorn Phanom – Khammouane Province
  • Lao – Thai Frienship Bridge II, Moukdahan – Savannakhet
  • Chongmek – Vangtao, Ubon Ratchathani to Champasak Province

Viet Nam – Laos

  • Taichang – Sobhoun, Laichau to Phongsaly Province (no visa on arrival)
  • Nameo – Nam Soy, Thanh Hoa to Huaphanh Province.
  • Namkan – Namkan, Nge An to Xieng Khouang Province.
  • Cau Treo – Namphao (Lak Sao), Ha Tinh to Bolikhamxay Province (no visa on arrival).
  • Chalo Naphao, Quangbinh to Khammouane Province (no visa on arrival).
  • Laobao – Dansavanh, Quang Tri to Savannakhet Province.

Time

GMT + 7

Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 8:00am until 4:00pm and often close for lunch between 12:00 and 2:00pm. Shops open from Monday to Saturday between 9:00am and 5:00pm and some also open on Sunday (during Public Holidays as well as celebrations such as Chinese New Year, most businesses are closed).

Money

The kip is the currency unit of Laos, count approximately 8,000 kips to one US$. Other currencies such as Euros and Thai baht are also accepted in many places, but keep kips for smaller purchases.

Banks, hotels, and jewellery shops all offer currency exchange. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 to 3:00pm. In major towns you can find ATMs to withdraw money (only Lao kips with a maximum 5,000,000 per day). Most ATMs have an English language version.

Visa and Master cards are now accepted in main hotels in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and in some large item shops, but few restaurants and bars accept them.

Post & internet, electricity

Stamps are available from post offices and some hotel reception desks. DHL, FedEx are present in Vientiane. Internet access is available in all major places and there is no restriction to any site.

Lao uses 220V, 24 hours a day.  Power outlets usually feature two-prong round or flat sockets, however, there is no set standard.  It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor.

Health & safety

Laos is generally a safe country. Nevertheless and as a global rule, never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags.

No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Travellers may be exposed to mosquito borne diseases; malaria in border areas and forests, dengue fever in cities in the day time; use mosquito nets and protect yourself night and day by using mosquito repellent, and by wearing light, long-sleeved clothing in infested areas.

Medical facilities are rather limited in Laos, it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed (usually to Bangkok or Singapore).  If you are on any medication, bring your supply of pills.

Laos is sunny year-round and we highly recommend bringing sun protection and wearing a hat to avoid heatstroke and sunburn.

Emergency contacts

IN LAOS

Fire: 190 ; Police: 191; Ambulance: 195

Alliance International Medical Centre, at Honda New Chip Xeng Wattay
Souphanouvong road, Ban Wattayyaithong, Sikhottabong district, Vientiane
+856 (0)21 513 095; info@aimclao.com; www.aimclao.com

Mahosot International Clinic: 021 214 022

Setthathirat Hospital: 021 351 156/ 021 351 158

Friendship Hospital: 021 413 302

French Medical Centre: 021 214 150/ 020 56 55 47 94

Australian Clinic: 021 353 800

IN THAILAND

Nongkhai: Wattana Hospital, 0066 42 465 201 – Public Hospital, Nongkhai: 0066 42 461 088

Udonthani: Wattana Hospital, 0066 42 241 031     – AEK Udon Hospital, Udonthani: 0066 42 342 555

Bangkok: Bumrungrad Hospital, 0066 2 667 1000 –Bangkok Nursing Home (BNH), 0066 2 686 2700 – Bangkok General Hospital, 0066 2 318 0066

Websites

Ecotourism in Laos: www.ecotourismlaos.com

Lao National Tourism Administration:  www.tourismlaos.org ;

Virtual tour of Laos: www.unbelievablelaos.com

LAHRA: www.laohotelgroup.org/

Viengxay: www.visit-viengxay.com

Cultural profile: www.culturalprofiles.net/laos

Vientiane Times: www.vientianetimes.org.la