First and foremost, despite the challenges you may have heard or read about the region, we are here to ensure your Laos trip goes not only smoothly, but is one of the most remarkable you’ve ever had. For us, your trip preparation begins well before you depart with careful planning and arrangements. On your part, please relax, we’ll let you know what and when we need anything from you and what you should be doing (if anything aside from browsing through a few books about where you will be traveling). Again, let us sweat the details, that’s what you’ve entrusted us to do!
>> Travel tips
Check-in luggage on Laos carriers is now restricted to one bag weighing no more than 50 lbs. (23 kg). Regional and domestic carriers limit bags to 40-44 lbs (18-20 kg) and may charge steep overweight fees. There is no limit to hand luggage or carry-on luggage weight as it is not typically checked except for size.
Plan on bringing U.S. Currency for most expenses, which remains widely accepted throughout the region and indeed, is the only acceptable currency for some transactions such as visa fees or airline departure taxes. Although you may use credit cards (except AMEX) for fine dining and larger purchase in Laos. Please refer to your country departure notes (below) for suggested amounts and denominations to bring. ATMs are common in larger cities but may be inconvenient and unreliable. Travelers checks carry a hefty 4% surcharge to cash.
Internet & Telecommunications
Wifi or wired Internet is now ubiquitous in regional hotels, airports and even cafes. Myanmar and northern Laos can have reduced speeds, but connection is still easy to obtain. Note that your mobile phone will work fine with a roaming plan in Indochina (coverage in Vietnam is excellent), even in remote areas, except in Northern Laos where coverage can be sptty. In Myanmar, no foreign carriers have coverage. For Myanmar, mobile phones with international calling capability may be rented at the Yangon airport with pre-paid SIM cards from US$20-50.
Most hotels in Indochina and Myanmar now use clever dual French and American style outlets, accepting both type of plugs (right). Your iPad, Kindle, laptop, mobile phone, and camera adapter will likely accept the 220-volt current automatically, but check the fine print on the adapter.
Note that with the exception of Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, all tipping in Indochina and Myanmar tipping is preferred in US dollars. Tipping is not expected in restaurants, where like in Europe a service charge is typically included in the bill. For informal, street cafes a small tip is appreciated. An appropriate tip for hotel porters and other service providers is $1-2. Cleaning staff get about $2 a day, left at the end of your stay on the nightstand, where it’s easily visible. Masseuse, $5 to $10. For guides, the range for tipping, dependent on your satisfaction of course, is from $20-100 per day for a couple (double this amount for families or small parties). For larger groups, an appropriate range is $100 and up for your entire party/per day. Drivers are tipped about half the guide rate. Two dollar bills are valued souvenirs in Vietnam. In Vietnam, baseball caps and hometown collegiate t-shirts are also prized gifts.