Laos is a small, landlocked Asian country, surrounded by China, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Although Laos is still not on the itinerary of most Americans, tourism is the country’s fastest-growing industry. According to Wikipedia, in 1990 4,400 tourists visited Laos. In 2005, that number had risen to 1.1 million. Tourism provides Laos with much-needed cash, and is expected to bring in $250–300 million by 2020.
However, before you go adventuring in Laos, there are a few things you need to be aware of:
Stay on the beaten path
Unfortunately, there is still a good deal of unexploded ordinance (UXO) left over from the Indochina War, as well as buried land mines. The US Department of State notes that unexploded ordinance kills more than 300 people in Laos each year. Stick to well-worn, frequently used paths and roads. Now is not the time to be a trailblazer!
Also, Laos’ government is very authoritarian in nature. So, some places, particularly remote rural areas that aren’t close to a big tourist destination, may be off limits to foreigners. Make sure to get your itinerary cleared by local authorities if you plan to travel through rural areas, especially if you are traveling without a guide.
Just Say No to Love
The government of Laos is also very strict about relationships between foreigners and Lao citizens. Basically, unless you have officially married a Lao citizen and your marriage is on file with the Lao government, there is to be no hanky-panky. Laotian police can and will search your hotel room, and you may be interrogated, detained, arrested or fined up to $5,000 if you are caught in flagrante delicto. Actually, they don’t even have to catch you in the act-all they have to do is hear about it.
In fact, the government sometimes fines foreigners after formal engagement ceremonies on the assumption that the happy couple just couldn’t wait for the wedding. So, don’t get caught with your pants down!
Get a Lao Visa
Americans traveling to Laos need a Lao visa to enter the country. If you are staying less than 30 days, you can obtain a visa on arrival at certain airports and land crossings. If you’re flying, check with your airline to see if you can get a visa on arrival. Or, you can apply for one before you leave the US.
Here’s what you need to get a Lao tourist visa:
- 2 application forms for a Laos tourist visa
- 3 passport-sized photos
- A copy of your itinerary
RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for a Laos visa and for visas to surrounding countries if required. We can research your itinerary, then help you with the necessary paperwork and deliver your documents directly to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible service.