Flat tyres in Laos

Visiting Laos? Avoid These 5 Mistakes

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Laos is a unique destination among Southeast Asian countries. Many visitors make common and expensive mistakes during their time there. In our blog, we highlight five crucial errors often encountered by travelers. Read on to discover how to prevent these missteps before you set foot in Laos. You’re welcome!

Mistakes To Avoid While Visiting Laos

1. Exchanging Currency

The value of the Lao KIP, Laos’ currency, can vary significantly. While the official exchange rate may be 20,800 KIP for 1 USD in 2024, we found the best rate at the Vientiane Market, where 1 USD equated to 23,100 KIP. It’s wise to inquire and compare rates before exchanging currency. However, remember that ATMs typically provide the exact exchange rate when withdrawing cash.

Additionally, once you’ve exchanged or withdrawn Lao KIP, you cannot convert it back to other foreign currencies, whether at banks or airports. Furthermore, Lao currency is not accepted outside of Laos. Therefore, it’s advisable to only withdraw the amount needed for your stay.

2. Dressing Modestly

Tad Tayicseua Waterfall

Western or modern attire is common in popular tourist destinations such as Vientiane, Vang Vieng, or Luang Prabang. However, when venturing into other areas of Laos, it’s important to dress conservatively out of respect for local culture. Avoid wearing revealing clothing like bikinis when swimming in waterfalls, streams, or any water source. Opt for at least shorts and a tank top. Pay attention to how locals and other tourists dress and follow the same.

3. Traveling By Bus

The road connecting Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang is in poor condition, increasing the likelihood of flat tires. Opting for the one-hour train ride is preferable to enduring a six-hour journey in minivans, which can be lengthy and exhausting. Trains offer speed, comfort, punctuality, and affordability, making them the superior choice. Whenever there is an option for you to choose the trains, we highly recommend you go for it in Laos.

Inside look of the Lao-China Railway trains

The mountainous route between Kasi and Luang Prabang is riddled with potholes and is at high risk of landslides, particularly during monsoon season. It’s advisable to avoid traveling by road in these conditions. The road between Kasi and Vang Vieng is rough, with numerous potholes, making for a bumpy ride. The road is good from Vang Vieng to the capital city of Vientiane.

4. Exploring Remote Areas On Your Own

Cluster bombs thrown on Laos

Considering that Laos is the most heavily cluster-bombed country in the world, our advice is that you do not deviate and venture into far-off spots from your existing trail. It is safe, and it is recommended that you stick to the trail throughout the hike or the popular routes while motor riding. Download offline maps from apps like maps.me and OSMAND to help you navigate accurately. Although many people hike independently, if you’re new to hiking or more concerned about safety, consider hiring a guide or joining a camping group tour. To understand more about the UXO and the war, visit the UXO visitor center in Luang Prabang.

5. Taking eVisa for Land Border Crossing

It’s essential to verify on the official website which airports and land border crossings accept eVisas before applying, as only a few do. Some travelers have reported having to pay twice at land border crossings in Laos, so it’s wise to double-check on the official website. The eVisa costs 52 USD while the Visa On Arrival is only 40 USD. We advise you to pay only in USD for Visa On Arrival. Although THB is accepted, you’ll be paying more.

Additionally, if you’re crossing the land border from Vietnam or Cambodia into Laos, be aware that there’s a mandatory additional USD 2 fee as a commission. However, this fee isn’t required when entering from Thailand.

Comment below to let others know your mistakes while visiting Laos.

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