By Parallels & Meridians
Every traveller knows that the world is filled with countries that are so different from each other in terms of culture, people and the way of life. There are things that might come off as shocking and might put one in a difficult spot, so to avoid any such surprises or shockers while going on that Laotian adventure, we bring to you 10 things you need to know before you get there:
- Vaccination before the vacation
This is a necessary step before embarking on the Laos adventure, as one should not take chances with catching diseases. It will not only ruin your vacation but also your health. Make sure to have good travel insurance before getting on the plane.
- Carry cash
Carry a sufficient amount of money with you as Laos has very few ATM locations in Luang Parang, Vang Vieng, Vientianne and Huay Xai. Even the machines these might be problematic to use and sometimes end up swallowing the card. Also the ATMS charge a hefty five dollars or more per transaction so it is best to withdraw as much as possible to stay within your budget. Thai baht and US dollars are the only foreign currencies that are accepted. It is best to carry change especially when street shopping.
- Don’t stray from safety
It is best to stick to areas that are filled with tourists as it was a heavily bombed country and still has land mines. Less risky situations include pick pocketing so expensive jewellery or other items should be left in the hotel room.
- Slow Internet
WI-FI isn’t available in most places and where it is, it is competitively slow. So make sure to print out all the necessary documents before travelling and download offline maps to stay on the safe side.
- Read about their culture
Laotians are very friendly to tourists despite their history of hardships and war. It is, however, important to remember to stay away from conversations regarding violence, war or the government with the locals. Raising your voice or getting angry and creating an uncomfortable situation is severely advised against while dealing with the locals. Greetings are very important, just like the rest of Asia and remember to say Khawp Jai (thank you) or Sabai Dee (hello) when talking to the locals.
- Bottled water to the rescue
It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to water and hence bottled/ sterilised water should be your best friend while you explore Laos. Avoid drinking from the tap and make sure the bottle is always sealed.
- Put your bargaining skills to use
Friendly haggling is an important part of the Lao culture which is great news for all travellers as one’s negotiation skills can be put to use from booking a room in a hotel during off season to street food/shopping to the tuk tuks or taxis that are used to explore the place.
- Mindful motorcycling
Renting out a motorcycle to explore Laos may sound very thrilling and it is, but a few things should be kept in mind before doing it. Vientiane houses most of the rental shops but the quality varies from shop to shop. Make sure to inspect the vehicle before renting it and ask for a helmet because it is mandatory to wear it while riding a motorcycle. Carry your international license to avoid being fined by local cops.
- Nightlife in Vientiane
The city’s curfew makes even the underground places shut no later than midnight. But the famous Beer Lao makes up for that with its quality and cheaper than coffee prices.
Main river street houses Bor Pen Nyang which may not look very impressive from street level but the 4th floor rooftop bar may stun you with its crowd filled with both locals and travellers, scenic view of the river and a wide range of drinks and food.
10.Happy pizza and shakes aren’t what you think!
Laos is filled with restaurants serving “happy” pizza or shakes that in fact contain weed, mushrooms, opium or a combination of all of it that might make you ‘trip’ on your trip to Laos. So be careful with what you order!