Facts for the VisitorVisas (obtained in Bangkok)
|US citizen:||1180 Baht for a 30-day visa with 2 months validity from the date of issue. The visa is issued 3 working days after application. Alternatively, for an additional 300 Baht, the visa is issued on the afternoon of the morning of application. Visa application requires 2 photos and the name of a hotel in Laos where you'll supposedly stay. Feel free to use any of the names from our Laos Lodging Guide.|
|Japanese citizen:||1200 Baht for a 30-day visa with 2 months validity from the date of issue. The visa is issued 3 working days after application. Alternatively, for an additional 300 Baht, the visa is issued on the afternoon of the morning of application. Visa application requires 2 photos and the name of a hotel in Laos where you'll supposedly stay. Feel free to use any of the names from our Laos Lodging Guide.|
|English or French is sufficient for travel, but a few words of Thai or Lao help.|
The national currency is the Kip. US$1 = 9460 Kip on 15 February 2002.
Thai Baht are readily accepted in lieu of Laos Kip everywhere, but at about 90% of the value given at a foreign exchange bank. Thai Baht, US$, English £, Euro, Swiss Franc, and Japanese Yen are easily exchanged at banks throughout Laos. US$ Travelers Checks get a fraction of a percent better exchange rate than US$ cash.
|220V, 50Hz. Sockets fit US/Japan style 2 straight pin plugs.|
|International Certificates of Vaccination are not required.|
|Tips are not expected.|
|Outside major cities, many places don't have telephones.|
|Internet points are found where a glut of tourists collect. In Vientiane, the cost is between 6000~9000 Kp (less than US$1) per hour. In Veng Vieng, the cost is 15,000 Kp per hour. In Luang Prabang, the cost is 12,000 Kp per hour.|
|Short Distance Truck or Motorbike||Fare is generally standard for distances ranging from 1km to 50km, but tourists are often quoted higher prices. Ask a local what the fare should be before attempting to negotiate. At best, the driver will quote the true rate. At worst, the quote will be 100 times the standard rate. Approximately, distances up to 10km are 3000 Kip (US$0.32) per person. A distance of 25~50km is 5000 Kip (US$0.53). Don't be fooled if the driver quotes in Baht (Thai) instead of Kip. On the street, one Baht equals 200 Kip. One obnoxious driver in Pakse quoted us 500 Baht each for a 10km distance. Although we weren't fooled, this driver shoed away other drivers like a hungry dog guarding his food.|
|Long Distance Bus||The bus network is regular, cheap, shabby, and almost unbearably cramped. Prices and schedules are published at the bus station. Prices hold true but the schedules rarely do. Expect the long distance bus to depart anytime between 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time and 2 hours after it. Never expect to make a bus or boat connection in Laos. Invariably, the last outbound transport of the day departs before arrival of the first inbound transport. It doesn't matter if you arrive by 14:00 or 09:00. The best rule is to guess the number of days it would take to travel a particular distance in a third world country and double it. Tourists and locals pay the same price.|
|Long Distance Slow Boat||Remote areas tend to have the same number of buses and slow boats departing per day. For the same distance and destination, the slow boat tends to take twice as long and cost twice as much as the long distance bus. Slow boats stop operating at dusk whether or not it reaches its destination. Stranded tourists always seem to find a place to sleep wherever the boat stops.|
|Long Distance Fast Boat||Put 2 reassembled jet engines left over from the Vietnam War on a plank of wood and you have a fast boat. We didn't try this mode of transport. Every tourist we met who did thought they were going to die.|
Copyright © 2000-2002 Wes and Masami Heiser. All rights reserved.