Basic information

Lao PDR is a landlocked state in Southeast Asia surrounded by Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and China.
Its history began in the 8th century when the first Lao state was founded but the time of its greatest glory didn´t start until 15th century. For 400 years the Kingdom of a Million Elephants, as Laos was called then, belonged to biggest, wealthiest and most influential in the region. The kingdom fell apart in the 19th century when the area was colonized by the French whose influence is still visible in urban architecture.
The darkest times for Laos came with Vietnam War when the US troops bombed the whole Ho Chi Minh trail. At the same time there was a civil war in Laos which ended only as late as in 1975 with the establishment of communist republic. The political system hasn´t changed since, making Laos one of the last communist countries in the world.

The area of Laos is approximately three times bigger than that of the Czech Republic but the population consists of mere 6.5 million inhabitants. Nevertheless, the ethnic composition is incredibly varied. While the south is predominantly inhabited by Buddhist ethnic Laotians, in the mountains on the north you can find variety of colourful animistic tribes. The climate is very varied as well, due to the geographic location. Generally, we speak of tropical monsoon climate with high precipitation, especially during the rainy season between May and September. The temperature is usually high throughout the year (daily maximum of 27 – 35°C), but can be very unpredictable and changeable in the highest mountains.

Laotian economy is highly dependent on their neighbours in terms of import/export (esp. Thailand and Vietnam) and foreign direct investment (China). Roughly half of GDP is produced by agriculture – specialized in rice - which employs three quarters of the population. Next important are mining, famous Lao beer production and flourishing tourism.

Laos is a developing country with high poverty index and only 65 % literacy rate. The situation has been however slightly changing recently, for example in the case of improving sanitation and health care (leading to higher life expectancy) and relatively fast economic growth.

("Peace, independence, democracy, unity and prosperity")

Information for the tourists


Our honorary consulate isn´t allowed to issue visas at the moment but you can easily buy them at the airport or any Lao boarder. The tourist visa is valid for 30 days, cost 30 dollars, and all you need to take with you are 2 passport photos. If however you prefer to have visa issued prior to your journey, you can apply for them at Laotian Embassy in Berlin or Vienna.

What to visit

Laos is the “World´s best tourist destination” of 2013 which illustrates how difficult it is to choose the best things to recommend, even more so if you are about to take Laos only as a stop on your way to Thailand or Vietnam which usually is the case.
Nevertheless, here is a list of the absolute top must-see sights:
Vientiane, the city of sandalwood, is situated near boarders with Thailand and is considered to be the most peaceful capital in Southeast Asia. Visit the beautiful temples Vat Sisaket, Vat Simuang, That Luang or museum of Lao art in Haw Pha Keaw. Near Vientiane is also a somewhat bizarre Buddha Park or famous statue of lying Buddha.
Vang Vieng. is known as a backpackers´ paradise and the centre of tubing. There are lots of bars and affordable accommodation and it’s a perfect place for those who love unspoiled nature.
Luang Prabang offers a unique mix of Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture. Near this UNESCO sight lie the iconic waterfalls Kouang Si or Xieng Thong temple.
Among the most fascinating things to see on the south of Laos belong: Khmer sight Vat Phou, calm town Champasak, tropical islands Si Phan Don, Li Phi and Khon Phapheng waterfalls, and dolphins-watching near Khon island.
• Wherever your journey takes you, make sure you experience the unique atmosphere of morning fair and colourful festivals which go on from November to April every year.

What to beware of

Don´t forget that Laos is – though beautiful – still developing country where the hygiene and health care (despite recent progress) doesn´t resemble Czech or European standard at all. Given the state of local pharmacies, you should have all the medicine you might possibly need packed in your suitcase. Also make sure you don´t eat anything that didn´t boil for at least 5 minutes, drink only bottled water and regularly wash your hands.
If you wish to visit temples, make sure to wear long trousers, cover your shoulders and cleavage and take off your shoes before entering. In Lao culture it is inappropriate to touch somebody´s head, point with a finger or have feet on the chair or table. Just like in many Asian cultures it is not usual for people to express their emotions loudly and showy. When greeting avoid hugging or kissing cheeks, the Laotians make a bow instead.
Some tourists were afraid of unravelling the mysteries and beauties of Laos for the unstable security situation but that´s not true anymore. As a foreigner you will surely be treated with respect. The Laotians are a very warm, generous and loving nation and they always smile.

Laotian culture and way of life

Laotian culture is very much influenced by the Indian one. People live a Buddhist way of life, they learn to be patient, control their emotions, avoid stress and accept others just as they are. They don´t make big plans and don´t rush anywhere.
Very important part of Laotian culture is their cuisine – similar to Thai but with certain specifics.
The traditional diet consists mainly of rice, noodles and vegetables. The most traditional food is certainly Lab – hot meat salad served with sticky rice.
Worth tasting are also famous noodle soups, papaya salad, coconut curry or fish, and almost everything comes with home-made sweet chilli sauce.