Laos is a country in Asia according to estatelearning. The mountainous, landlocked country of Laos has been successfully embracing ecotourism for some time. Activities that can be practiced in the water-rich, pristine national parks include trekking, kayaking and caving. In the capital Vientiane and in other cities that have so far been spared modern architecture, traditional and colonial architectural styles dominate. Laos is one of the few communist countries left on earth. Foreign tourists were not allowed to enter Laos until 1988, but today you can travel around the country without any problems, preferably with a recognized tour operator. But backpacking is also thriving. Laos is still relatively isolated and underdeveloped. Vientiane is more like a big village than an Asian capital, and life moves relatively slowly by western standards. Most tourists visit Vientiane and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, possibly with a visit to the mysterious Plain of the Jars. Those who venture further into exotic Laos will be rewarded with lush green landscapes, friendly people and unique glimpses of a country that has changed little for more than a century.
Arriving by plane
There are no direct flights to Laos from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The national airline Lao Airlines (QV) connects Laos with Beijing, Wuhan and Kunming (China), Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand), among others. Thai Airways (TG) flies from Frankfurt/M., Vienna and Zurich via Bangkok to Vientiane. Non-stop flights to Bangkok are operated from Frankfurt/M. by Lufthansa (LH), from Vienna by Austrian Airlines (OS) and from Zurich by Swiss (LX). From Frankfurt/M. There are flight connections with Vietnam Airlines (VN) via Hanoi.
Frankfurt/M. – Vientiane: 14 hrs 20 mins; Vienna – Vientiane: 14 hours 25 minutes; Zurich – Vientiane: 14 hours 50 minutes
Arrival by car
Laos is accessible by land from Thailand, Vietnam and China. For safety reasons, it is not advisable to travel by car from Myanmar. The border area with Cambodia is currently to be avoided because of the stationing of military units due to discrepancies about the course of the border. Long-distance buses: The Thai bus company The Transport Co. offers regular connections between Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) and Pakse (Laos). Buses also operate on the Udon Thani (Thailand) – Vientiane route and across the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridges between Mukdahan (Thailand) and the Lao province of Savannakhet. Tolls: There are no toll roads in Laos. Documents:
Arrival by train
The Bangkok to Vientiane rail service runs through the Friendship Bridge from Nong Kai (Thailand) to the International Rail Terminal in Thanaleng, about 15 km from the center of Vientiane. Taxis and tuk-tuks run from the train station to the city center.
Traveling by plane
Lao Airlines (QV) and Lao Skyway (LK) operate domestic flights between Vientiane and Luang Namtha, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang, Oudomxai and Pakse. Lao Airlines (QV) also flies to Savannakhet. There are safety risks on flights to the remote northern provinces due to difficult weather conditions and insufficient technical equipment at the airports there. Especially in the months of May to October (rainy season) these routes should be avoided.
Traveling by car/bus
The road network has a length of approx. 40,000 km. The main route, National Road 13, runs north-south from Boten to Khong via Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet and Pakse. The Kunming-Bangkok Expressway connects Boten on the Chinese border with Ban Houayxay on the Thai border. Be careful on the road; drunk drivers are often on the road and the accident rate is high. If a foreigner is involved in an accident, payment of the damage and often also compensation for pain and suffering is usually demanded, regardless of who is at fault. Tolls: There are no toll roads in Laos. Gas stations are plentiful, especially in the cities.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
The main routes between Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang and the expressway from the Thai border at Savannakhet to the Vietnamese border are paved. However, only a few roads are passable in all weathers. Road conditions are generally poor outside of Vientiane province. In the regions southeast of Vientiane, there are hardly any motorable roads.
The road system of Laos is divided into national, provincial, county, city, country and special roads.
Car rentals are available in Vientiane and Luang Prabang both at the airport and in the city. At Sixt, for example, the minimum age for drivers is 23 years. Drivers under the age of 26 often pay a young driver fee. Due to the poor road conditions and the local driving style, it is advisable to book a car with a driver.
Metered taxis are available in the cities; however, it is quite common to negotiate a fare. Taxis are mainly found at the airport and in front of larger hotels. In addition, various, mostly three-wheeled, vehicles (tuk tuks) operate everywhere. Pick-ups with two benches, a roof and open sides (songthaew) are also used as taxis.
Guided bike tours are offered throughout the country. Bike rentals are also available in Vientane.
Bus connections exist between all major cities. Otherwise, due to the poor road conditions, pick-ups with longitudinal benches on the loading area (Songthaews) are often on the road.
Traffic regulations: – alcohol limit: 0.5 ‰; – Telephoning while driving is prohibited. Speed limits: – in built-up areas: 50 km/h; – country roads: 80-110 km/h (depending on the signs); – Expressways: 100-120 km/h.
The ADAC foreign emergency call offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance comprehensive assistance in the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, loss of documents and money, and medical emergencies. The emergency number is available around the clock; in the event of damage to the vehicle: Tel. +49 (0)89 22 22 22, in the event of illness: +49 (0)89 76 76 76. In the event of breakdowns or accidents with the rental car, the car rental company should be contacted first.
In addition to the national driver’s license, the international driver’s license is required.
Traveling in the city
In Vientiane there are cycle rickshaws and, above all, in front of larger hotels and at the airport, there are taxis that can also be booked for the whole day. The fare should be agreed in advance. Vientiane is also easy to explore on foot. Converted motorcycles, so-called tuk-tuks or jumbos, can be found in all major cities. Motorbikes and bicycles can be rented by the day in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Locally on the way by train
The only very short railway line runs from the first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to Thanaleng.
Traveling by ship
The Mekong and the other rivers are important transport routes. With daily departures, a ferry connects Luang Prabang with Huay Xai (journey time: approx. 2 days). Speedboats, which are often involved in accidents and are therefore not recommended, operate between Huang Xai and Vientiane (journey time: approx. 6 hours), here it is better to use the so-called slow boats, which are longer on the road, but safer arrive. River cruises on the Mekong are also offered.