Laos is a beautiful country with an interesting culture and a rich history. These are all wonderful reasons to visit the country, but what about the length of stay? How long to stay in Laos?
The answer depends on your reason for visiting. Possible reasons for visiting Laos include relaxation, rehabilitation, cross-cultural experiences, and development.
How Long Should You Spend in Laos?
It doesn’t matter how laid-back the country looks. There are still things to do in Laos, even if you don’t want to do them right now.
You should really spend at least two weeks in the country to really enjoy it. Many people start their Laos trip in Huay Xai, having come from Thailand. They leave the country through the southern islands of Si Phan Don.
With 14 days in Laos, you can visit the UNESCO-listed sites of Luang Prabang, see the beautiful temples of Vientiane, and enjoy the fun of Vang Vieng.
As part of a longer Indochina trip, set aside at least three days to see a few of Laos’s most important things. You won’t be able to get to know Laos in three days, but it should give you a taste of one or two major cities.
How Much Money do You Need to Live in Laos?
People have the most money problems in Laos, which is one of the countries I’ve been to in mainland South East Asia. It has the fewest ATMs and the most unfriendly banks.
Here, I have seen more people yelling at tellers and scrambling to figure out where they can get a cash advance on their credit card than I have anywhere else in the world. ATMs have made things a little better in Pakse.
If you’re planning to go to Laos, the best thing to do is bring enough Thai baht, US dollars, or traveler’s checks to cover your whole trip. Thai baht are less useful as you move away from the country, but banks will gladly exchange them for a kip.
As of right now, the rate for one Lao Kip to the dollar is 8,657 Kip to the dollar, but it changes all the time. For the math, it’s a shame that they can’t value it at 10,000-to-the-dollar. No, I don’t know how to do that trick for the 9 times table on my fingers. It will come in handy in Laos.
Coins are not used in Laos. It comes in different amounts, starting with 1 kip. It takes 90 of them to make one US cent, so they’re no longer used. up to 50,000 (which tops out at about 5.75 USD). But, since the average Laotian only makes $1 a day, that’s still a lot of money for the average person in the country.
Laos Accommodation Prices
People who want to save money will have a hard time in places like Luang Prabang, Van Vieng, and Vientiane, where there are a lot of tourists.
There are fan rooms with cold water baths or shared baths in places like Pakse that cost 5 USD, down to 3.50 in the most remote places.
In other places, though, the price can be even lower. All I had to do was put up with the fact that the place also serves as a brothel. Look to spend about 6 to 10 dollars on A/C and hot water, which is the standard price in the tourist centers.
This is what you’ll pay for these things. People who don’t want bugs, slightly stained bedding, or crumbling walls at all have to start at $15 a night and go up to $25 in some places.
All of this goes out the window if you go to Don Dhet, where you can get a one-dollar room with a wooden shack, a fan, and a shared bathroom. You also get a balcony and hammock on the Mekong River as a bonus.
Internet Cafe Costs in Laos
A lot of people have trouble getting online. In the most developed parts of Laos, the cost of the internet starts at 6,000 kip per hour (70 cents) and can go as high as 12,000 kip per hour in more remote places.
Even though Don Dhet doesn’t even have electricity, it does have the Internet. The Internet runs off of car batteries and costs 5 to 7 dollars an hour (a lot of money) Some towns, like Sekong and Salavan, don’t have any internet at all.
If you’re taking a remote trip in Laos, plan on telling your virtual friends you’ll be off visiting reality until further notice.
Laos Trains, Planes, And Buses
In Laos, there aren’t any trains. Most people have to take the bus, so they can’t go anywhere. So plan ahead a day in case your bus only leaves once a day at dawn, because there aren’t many people there.
Every hour on the road, you’ll pay about 10,000 kip (about 200 kip per mile). You won’t have air conditioning, the bus will be full to overflowing, and you might have to sit on a rice sack with a live duck at your feet (yes, that actually happened to me).
If you pay about a dollar an hour, VIP air-con buses make it more comfortable and civilized to go somewhere. Also, much faster. Costs 85,000 kip and takes 16 hours. Costs 100,000 kip. Takes 10 hours.
Then, think about the pros and cons and come up with your own answer. Many routes don’t have VIP service, and the most convenient way to get there might be by songthaew, which is also full to the rafters.
You might have to ride with a kettle of life fish splashing around on your lap as you go (which also happened to me).
When you look at flight prices, you’ll see why most people go to Laos by land, not by air. Bangkok to Vientiane costs about 179 to 211 dollars right now, but it used to be even less.
To get from Hanoi to Vientiane, you’ll pay 169 dollars in cash. Flights inside the country aren’t any better. When you fly with Lao Airlines, the ticket costs 196 dollars.
If you want the most up to date prices, look at Skyscanner Most people fly into Bangkok, where there are always cheap flights (see). They then take trains or buses to the rest of the country. Be ready for a 10 USD tax if you’re leaving Laos by air.
Vientiane and Luang Prabang are the only two cities in Laos with international airports.
Laos Food Costs
There are very few people who know a lot about Laotian food. The food here is a lot like Thai food, but it’s less eclectic and there’s less of it as well. A dollar or two will feed you rice, vegetables and a little bit of meat, but it’s cheap.
To change things up, I like to go to a Korean-style barbecue where you can cook meat and vegetables on a grill in the middle of the table, which is the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer. You can eat a lot for about $5 per person.
It’s only possible to get Western and international food in the tourist areas, but I found big pizzas for as little as 3 or 4.
Beer And Cigarettes In Laos
Beer Lao is the national beer in Laos, and it’s so good you might not want to drink anything else. Budget about 9,000 kip for a big bottle, and multiply by how much you drink each day to figure out how much you’ll need.
A lot of people like it, but it isn’t as cheap as Vietnamese food called “bia hoi.” There are also better restaurants where you can get a bottle of French wine for 10 to 15 dollars. This is because the French spent so much time in the country.
Half a liter costs 5,000 kipm, which is the price for half a liter of lao cao, which is sold in shops and on the side of the road all over the country. Quality isn’t always the same, but that doesn’t mean it is I think it tastes good when it’s done well.
Rubbish alcohol is at its worst. In the same way, it’s so cheap to smoke in the rest of mainland South-East Asia that you can’t not.
Local brands start at about 4,000 kip per pack, and more high-end brands like Marlboro go for 13- to 16,000 kip per pack, depending on whether they are real or fake.
ATMs in Laos
Closed: You can’t get the Laos kip outside of the country unless you meet someone who forgot to get rid of a wad before they left. So, don’t take any kip with you when you leave, unless you want to keep it as a souvenir.
You’ll have to look for someone going the other way to sell it to. If you want to buy dollars or baht with your kip, look for currency exchange.
Make sure you have enough dong for your trip to Vietnam. If not, get some dollars, but get rid of all your baht and kip because they won’t be worth anything in Vietnam.
In Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Pakse, Laos has ATMs that accept international cards, so you can use your money there.
Even so, not all ATMs will accept your card. You should try to find a BCEL bank, which should work with debit and credit cards from Visa and MasterCard, but not both.
You can find an ATM at the Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Laos (BCEL) at the North end of Sisavangvong Road, a few blocks after the Night Market. MasterCard and Maestro cards are accepted. For a Visa card, you still have to find a bank.
If you run out of money in Laos, you can first ask a bank for a credit card advance. Some banks will do this for 4% to 5% of the total transaction.
Otherwise, you’ll need to find someone back home who can send money through Western Union. WU can be found almost anywhere. If your card doesn’t work in Pakse for any reason, there’s a backup plan: You can cross the Chong Mec/Vang Tao border about 30 km away and use your card on the Thai side.
How Much Money do I Need Per Day in Laos
People who live near Laos can usually get things done for less money than people who live there. When you’re on your own, you can live on 10 dollars a day in this city.
If you’re with your significant other, you can spend about 12 dollars. But that wouldn’t be fun, so try for $15 a day at least. If you want to stay at a resort-style place at any point during your stay, you’re more likely to pay between $20 and $40 for a room
. On average, the midrange traveler should plan on spending between $30 and $40 per day. You can only spend so much money in Laos, so if you’re one of the lucky people who have more than $100 to spend each day, you’ll have a hard time finding things to spend it on.
Is Laos Tourist Friendly?
Yes, Laos is a safe place to go on your own, and many people think it’s better than their home in the west. These can be avoided by being careful with your things.
There are some reports of petty theft, but these can be avoided by being careful with your things.
It’s a good idea to leave your expensive jewelry and watches at home, though. You might also think about not taking your laptop with you because there are internet stores all over the country. As well, don’t leave cash or valuables in your hotel room.
Some people choose money belts that can be worn inside clothes or around the neck under the shirt.
Who Can Get a Laos Visa on Arrival?
Most people who aren’t visa-exempt can get a Laos visa when they arrive. Only people from the following countries can’t get the VOA and have to get a visa at an Embassy instead.
- Cameroon \sCongo
- Ivory Coast
- Tonga \sZambia
How Can I Get a Visa for Laos?
There are three ways you can get a visa for Laos, depending on what country you’re from:
- On arrival. At most entry ports.
- Online. Through the official website of the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you can get an eVisa.
You can get help from an official from Laos. For people who can’t apply online or when they arrive.
- As soon as you arrive at the checkpoint in Laos, you must go to the visa on arrival counter and show them the following documents:
Applying for a Laos Visa on Arrival
- The Visa on Arrival Form for Laos, which you can get at the checkpoint or on the plane, is what you need to get.
- Proof that you can stay in Laos. E.g., you can make a hotel reservation.
- These are two recent passport-sized photos. Size: 4 cm x 6 cm in length.
- There will be an extra charge for the visa. You will need cash in US dollars. The fee for a visa to Laos ranges from USD 30 to USD 45, depending on what country you come from.
- Proof that you have enough money to cover your stay in Laos.
- A ticket that has been confirmed for the next trip.
- A visa or ticket for the next place (if applicable)
To get your visa, you must send in the documents first. Then, you have to wait. It should be ready in about 15 minutes. They’ll call your name when it’s done. The visa will be valid for 30 days.
There are a few places where you can get a Laos visa when you get to the country.
- Wattay International Airport
- Savan International Airport
- Pakse International Airport
- Luang Prabang International Airport
- Friendship Bridge IV Checkpoint in Bokeo (Thailand Border)
- Samliemkham In Bokeo, there is a stop sign (Thailand and Myanmar Border)
- There is a check point on the Friendship Bridge I in Vientiane (Thailand Border)
- The Tanalaeng Checkpoint is in Vientiane (Thailand Border)
- Xieng Khouang Nonghaed Checkpoint (Vietnam Border)
- Nam Phao Checkpoint in Bolikhamxay (Vietnam Border)
- Friendship Bridge III Checkpoint in Khammouane (Thailand Border)
- Khammouane Border Checkpoint
- Na Pao Checkpoint
- Friendship Bridge II Checkpoint
- Veun Kham Checkpoint (Cambodia Border)
- The Vang Tao Checkpoint (Thailand Border)
- Phou Keua in Eutapeu (Vietnam Border)
Applying for a Laos Online
If you can get a Laos visa when you get there, you can also get a Laos visa online (eVisa). Through the official website, you can get an eVisa.
- Fill out the online application form.
- Attach the documents that you need.
- A recent picture of yourself, with a white background and dimensions of 4 x 6 cm, is what I want.
- Your passport’s cover page is what you see when you open it up.
- Bio page of your passport
- Possibly, additional documents.
- In order to apply online, you must pay a fee of $5.00. In your country, the fee ranges from USD 31 to USD 45.
- It will take a while for the visa application to go through. For most people, this takes about three working days.
- To get the eVisa Approval Letter, click here. You will get it by email. You have 60 days after you get the letter of approval to use it, so don’t waste it.
After you arrive at the port of entry in Laos, go to the immigration area for eVisas. This is where you will get your visa. Show them your passport and the eVisa approval that came with it. There, the immigration officers will look over them. They will then give you permission to come into the country.
Only at these places can you use your Laos eVisa.
- Wattay International Airport
- Thai Friendship Bridge I
- Thai Friendship Bridge II
- Luang Prabang International Airport
- Pakse International Airport
The Lao eVisa can only be used for tourism. For long-term visas, you’ll need to get in touch with a Lao embassy.
To apply for more than one person at the same time, you can write in up to five names.
Applying for a Laos Embassy Visa
To get a visa for Laos at an embassy, you have to do:
- Get in touch with the nearest embassy or consulate and ask them about your case.
- Fill out the form for a Laos visa and send it in with the necessary documents. You can get a visa for Laos by going to their website.
- When the Lao consular services say that you can apply either in person or by mail, that’s how you can do it.
- Pay the visa fee for Laos.
- It will be different where you apply for a visa. You need to contact the embassy or consulate of Laos first. A list of diplomatic missions of Laos can be found on this page
- To get a Laos visa, you only need to go to the nearest Lao embassy or consulate if you can’t get a visa on arrival or an eVisa, or if you want to stay longer than the VOA and eVisa allow.
Laos Visa Requirements
To get a Laos visa, you need these things:
- Your passport, which must be valid for at least another six months, is what you need to bring.
- The form for a visa to Laos. If you apply at an embassy, you can get the form online and print it. In this case, you can get the visa application form on the plane or at the airport.
- Two passport-sized photos with a white background and dimensions of 4 cm x 6 cm. These photos were taken recently and show two people.
- Proof that you can stay somewhere in Laos, like a hotel reservation.
- Proof that you have enough money to stay there.
- Return trip or onward ticket.
- The fee for the Laos visa.
- The Lao consular service needs any other documents, depending on why you’re going.
How Long is a Laos Visa Valid?
The tourist visa for Laos is good for three days. The visa approval letter you get when you apply online gives you 60 days to use it to get into Laos, but you can only use it for that time.
Can You Extend a Laos Visa?
You can extend your Laos visa at the Immigration Department in Vientiane or the Immigration Division Office of the province you are in.
Before your current visa runs out, you need to apply for a new one.
You can only get an extension of your 30-day tourist visa two times, so you can stay for 90 days. The service fee is 25,000 Lao Kip (USD 27), and the extension fee is 20,000 Lao Kip (USD 21).
Laos Visa Costs
You can get a visa on arrival at some borders if you come from Thailand or Vietnam, but not from Cambodia. A one-month, single-entry visa is now the norm and costs about 35 dollars, but the price changes depending on the nationality of the person who gets it.
After 6 PM and on weekends and holidays, there is a small extra charge for going over the hours. Getting a new visa is only possible in Vientiane at a cost of 2 dollars per day for each new visa.
For every day you overstay, you’ll be hit with a $10 fine. Don’t do that! I used to get a new visa in Laos by leaving and coming back. You’re never far from a border.
The best place to go is Thailand because it doesn’t cost anything to get in there. Cambodia will work if you need to get in quickly. In Vietnam, you can’t get a visa on arrival, and it costs a lot.
But Laos isn’t really a place to go on vacation, it’s a place to go on vacation. Here, you’ll find a relaxed way of life, a lot of natural beauty, and a lot of chances to go on your own adventures and see the world. A few booze-filled days on Ko Phi Phi can make up for what you don’t spend here.
Types of Laos Visas
Visas are given out by the Lao government depending on the reason for your visit. The main types of visas for Laos:
Laos Tourist Visa: This visa is for foreigners who want to come to Laos as tourists and stay for a short time. Most people can get a tourist visa for Laos when they arrive in the country or online.
Laos Business Visa: People who want to come to Laos to invest, collect data, or do other business things get this visa. A Laos work visa is not the same as this because you can’t work for a Lao company.
Laos Transit Visa: This visa is for foreigners who are going to pass through Laos on their way to another place. For seven days, you can’t keep it. You need to show that you’re going somewhere else to get this visa.
Work Visa: To get this visa, you must be a foreigner who wants to work in Laos and your family.
Media Visa: This visa is given to foreign journalists who need to travel for their job.
Laos Student Visa: Laos Student Visas are given to foreigners who have been accepted into a school in Laos.
Laos Spouse Visa: A visa for the spouses of Lao people.
How long to stay in Laos? I recommend staying in Laos for a minimum of 3 weeks. If you do not have enough time, it is imperative that you make the best of your time there.
Spend at least 3 days in each city to properly explore the culture and history of Laos. When you are exploring, keep in mind that many locals are unable to speak English.