Laos is a beautiful and super affordable country. Full of stunning landscapes and friendly locals, Laos makes it easy to lose track of time—and your visa expiration date. However long you have here, here are our tips to make the most of it!
When in doubt, get it yourself.
This applies to beer, restaurant checks, and pretty much anything else. If you sit there and wait, you might be sitting all night. Also, if you order something and it never comes, ask the waiter. Chances our, they no longer have it available and they just forgot to tell you.
Bring lots of patience, fruit, and water on bus rides.
It'll be hot, you'll have chickens next to you on the ground, and barfing adults and babies next to you on the seat. Expect each ride to take at least an hour longer than you're told.
Bus tickets are ALWAYS cheaper at the bus station.
There's really no reason to purchase them with an agent in town unless you're planning on making a difficult connection or are just plain lazy. Just make sure you get to the bus station 45 minutes early so you can grab a good seat. (This is true even if you already have your ticket.)
When in doubt, prepare to pay 10,000K.
This is especially true for tuk-tuks to and from the bus station. Bargaining is usually futile. Also, if your guidebook says an attraction is free or charges 5,000K, make sure you bring 10,000K. That's just the way it is now.
The best way to save on tuk-tuk costs is to ask your bus to drop you off in town (if passing through).
You can often figure out the route via your guidebook or an offline maps app. We use CityMaps2Go. It's also smart to ask around the day before you head to the bus station as to see if the bus passes through town on its way out. If that's the case, you save both time and money by flagging it down outside your guesthouse.
Get ready to drink a lot of BeerLao.
At 10,000K per bottle, you'll be buying a lot yourself, but glasses of it will also be offered to you (at no cost) by tons of excited villagers and locals. Good luck if you're a germaphobe. It's rude to say no to others' generosity.
Learn how to say "vegetarian," even if you're a meat eater.
There's no other polite way to turn down mystery meat that's been sitting out for hours. For reference, the word is "gin jay" or "jair". If you don't learn it, you may very well end up eating bat—or rat.
Destination specific tips
See our three week Laos itinerary.
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