Laos Traditional attire worn during a marriage

50 Interesting Things About Laos (+ Facts)

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Traveling to a new country comes with a prerequisite. There are things to know about the places we visit, such as their culture, traditions, people, festivals, transport, etc. Before you hop on that plane, though, it’s time to do some homework. Knowing the ins and outs of your destination will give you the confidence to tackle any adventure that comes your way. So, grab your passport and prepare for a journey filled with all the information you need about Laos before you set sail to this beautiful place. Let’s make every moment count!

Traveling in Laos offers a unique and authentic travel experience like no other. Here are 50 interesting things to know about the country and some fascinating facts.

50 Interesting Facts About Laos

1. Laos is known by several names, such as Lao PDR or LPDR, which expands to Lao People’s Democratic Republic. It has been a one-party communist country since 1975. Laos gained independence in 1945 and was recolonized again by France. It regained independence as the “Kingdom of Laos” in 1953. 

2. Lao National Day falls on December 2, commemorating the end of the monarchy and the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 1975. This event is celebrated as an annual holiday.

3. Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is also the largest city in the country.

4. Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Myanmar, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

5. The national language of Laos is called Lao. It closely resembles Thai, although the written script differs.

Views from the top of Phadeng Viewpoint

6. The national flag of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic features a dark blue background with red edges and a white moon in the center. Before 1975, when the royal government was in power, the flag displayed a red background with a white three-headed elephant named Airawat at its center, representing the Hindu god Indra.

7. Laos is nicknamed “the land of million elephants.” Every February, the renowned Elephant Festival is held in the Xayaboury province.

8. Laos is divided into 18 provinces and one prefecture, which includes the capital city, Vientiane. The provinces are then subdivided into districts, and the districts into villages.

9. Getting an eVisa in Laos is straightforward, but it’s only accepted at select locations. Many countries can opt for a Visa On Arrival, though the fees vary between on-arrival and eVisa. For additional information, check the mistakes you should avoid in Loas.

10. Laos’ currency fluctuates often with respect to the US dollar, resulting in varying entry fees for attractions. In our Laos blogs, we’ve included both Lao and USD prices to provide clarity.

11. Lao KIP cash is widely used throughout the country, with THB and USD also accepted for larger amounts. It’s advisable to carry enough cash with you.

12. You can use both Visa and Master cards for purchases and withdrawals, with a 3% service fee for card transactions. QR code payments are available for those with a Lao bank account.

13. The Indo-China Bank is the top choice for ATM withdrawals, charging a 40,000 KIP fee of up to 3,000,000 KIP per transaction. Alternatively, BCEL Bank is another good option, with a fee of 30,000 KIP per withdrawal and 2-2.5 million KIP limits.

14. Once exchanged, Lao KIP cannot be converted back to USD, THB, Yuan, or any other foreign currency. Since Lao KIP is not accepted outside Laos, only exchange or withdraw the amount you need. Avoid these common mistakes when traveling in Laos.

15. Learn when and where to purchase SIM cards in Laos. Check the SIM card guide for necessary documents. Research the best network provider and speed, and avoid unnecessary fees or scams.

Pakse Bolaven loop, Laos

16. While an international driving license is required to ride a motorcycle in Laos, police enforcement on tourists is lenient. Rental shops typically do not request one either. We completed the Pakse loop and Thakhek loop on a motorbike without encountering police checks.

17. Learn the basic road rules for riding. The rider and passenger must wear helmets and driving is on the left side of the road.

18. Laos roads are in poor condition, with many unpaved side roads full of potholes. Flat tires are common, so drive cautiously to avoid accidents.

19. Accommodations, food, and transportation are inexpensive, making Laos one of the most budget-friendly countries in Southeast Asia.

20. Grab isn’t available in Laos. Instead, they rely on taxi service apps like “Loca” and “Xanh SM.” Check out our detailed transportation guide for the best tips on getting around Laos. These insights will help you travel efficiently and save time and money.

21. We suggest using booking.com to book your accommodations. You’ll find many options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. In Laos, walk-in rates are usually higher than online prices.

 

22. Lao cuisine is budget-friendly, with fried rice and noodle soup priced between 30,000 KIP (1.5 USD) and 50,000 KIP (2.5 USD). You’ll find various options, including noodle soup, fried rice, rice dishes, and meat. French, Thai, Chinese, and Indian cuisines are widely available throughout the country.

23. Sticky rice, known as Khao Niaow, is Laos’ national dish. The country boasts the highest consumption worldwide, at 171 kg or 377 pounds per year.

24. Many Chinese tourists visit northern Laos, particularly Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang, thanks to the Lao China Railways (LCR) operating between Boten (China) and Vientiane (Laos).

25. Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang are the top spots for buying souvenirs in Laos, with their bustling night markets offering a wide range of products for tourists.

26. While Google Maps is useful in many areas, it may not be reliable in remote locations or during hikes. To ensure you have access to maps at all times, we suggest downloading offline maps from OSMAND and Maps.me, as they are more dependable in these areas. Google Maps does not come handy for using public transportation in Laos.

27. You can find free Wi-Fi services in restaurants and accommodations.

28. If you’re wondering how long you should stay in Laos, we recommend at least 30 days. While many visitors spend just 10 days exploring Northern Laos, there’s definitely so much more to discover in Central and Southern Laos.

29. Tipping is optional in Laos, as there is no strict custom for it. If you appreciate the service, you can show gratitude with a tip.

30. Vaccination certificates aren’t required for Laos. They weren’t checked when we arrived. However, it’s advisable to get vaccinated before traveling to Asia.

31. It is important to have the following emergency contact numbers handy:

  • Police: 191
  • Medical emergencies and ambulance: 195

32. The working days of the week here start from Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday are considered weekends and are holidays.

33. Laos is a safe destination for backpackers and solo travelers. Atchaya explored remote areas solo for 30 days without feeling unsafe. The locals are friendly and welcoming to tourists.

34. Laos has two main seasons: the rainy season (June-September) and the dry/summer season (October-May). The hottest months are March, April, and May. The ideal time to visit is from October to February, right after the monsoon when the weather and landscape are lush.

35. When packing for Laos, prepare for both tropical climates: summer and rain. Essentials include mosquito repellent, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, head torches, beachwear, lip balm, moisturizer, and a universal travel adapter.

36. Laos has no laundromats, but accommodations and laundry shops provide services priced between 20000 KIP (1 USD) and 40000 KIP (2 USD) per Kg.

37. Laos public toilets are primarily squat type, while accommodations offer Western-style toilets. Both paid and free restrooms are available, but we suggest using only the paid ones as the free ones are often not properly cleaned.

38. We highly recommend avoiding tap water in Laos. Instead, you can purchase 1.5L water bottles for 10000 KIP (0.5 USD) each.

39. The telephone number in Laos has nine digits. The country code is +856. To call Lao residents from another country, add + or 00 before the access code 856.

40. Lao utilizes Type A, B, C, E, and F power plugs and sockets, with an electrical supply of 230 Volts or 50 Hz. Always exercise caution when using outlets and ensure proper earthing to avoid potential sparks while plugging in devices.

41. About 60% of Laos’ population practices Buddhism, with Tai Folk being the next largest group. Some people in Laos do not adhere to any religion.

42. While LGBTQ rights are legally recognized in Laos, discrimination remains prevalent. Laos is often considered one of the more tolerant communist states, although limited evidence supports this claim.

43. Laos is home to 3 UNESCO heritage sites in the world. They include,

  • Megalithic Jar Sites in Xiengkhuang – Plain of Jars (2019)
  • Town of Luang Prabang (1995)
  • Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape (2001)

44. Laos offers some of the world’s most affordable adventure activities, including hot-air ballooning. Explore our list of must-try adventures and where to experience them in Laos.

Cluster bombs thrown on Laos

45. Laos holds the unfortunate title of being the world’s most bomb-laden country. From 1964 to 1973, around 270 million bombs were dropped, with 80 million failing to detonate. The National Clearance Operator focuses on unexploded ordnance (UXO) and works to educate, diffuse, and clear these dangers across the country. Explore the UXO visitor center in Luang Prabang to learn more about the impact of this issue and the efforts to address it.

46. The time zone of Laos is UTC + 7 hours.

47. “Sabaidee” is a common greeting in Laos, meaning “hello,” while “Kabchai” translates to “thank you.” These words are heard daily, with locals greeting tourists warmly and children waving while saying “Sabaidee.” You’ll also notice many restaurants and homestays named “Sabaidee.”

48. The traditional outfit of Laos, known as Xout Lao, is distinct. Women wear Sihn, consisting of a silk skirt, a sleeved shirt, and a shawl called Pha Biang. Men wear Salong, which includes baggy pants and a full-sleeved shirt, also paired with a Pha Biang.

49. Laos relies heavily on agriculture, with 85% of its population working in this sector. Rice is the primary crop, cultivated on 90% of available land. Other crops include corn, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, and peanuts. Scenic rice fields dot the landscape across the country.

50. BeerLao, Laos’s national beer, is crafted from locally sourced rice. Malted barley is imported from France and Belgium, while hops and yeast come from Germany. In 2007, the Carlsberg Group acquired 70% of the shares in Lao Soft Drink Co. Ltd., with the Lao government retaining the rest. The brewery produces seven Beerlao varieties: Lager, Gold, Dark, White, Luang Prabang, IPA, and Green.

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