In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
LAOS TRAVEL INFORMATION
10,000 kip = $1 USD
The ancient kingdom of the Million
Elephants, which became the Popular Democratic Republic of
Laos in 1975, is now open to tourism. The Annamitic mountain range crosses the NW region, while the Mekong river
divides Laos with Thailand and Myanmar in the West. Laos has 14,000km of
road, 80% of which are not asphalted. Presently very few road maps are
available, and city maps are rare and uninformative. Laos boasts of
being the least populated country in S.E. Asia.
The official language
is sanscrit and pali native, however, English and French are both
spoken, especially in hotels, guesthouses, some restaurants and upper
About 70 ethnic groups of Laos can be identified. They are generally
placed into simple classifications according to
geographical location: Lao Loum (from the plains); Lao Theung (from the hills); Lao Sung (from
The official currency in Laos is Kip.
Thai baht and US dollars are freely accepted in big towns, but less so
in rural areas. Banks will take Euros and are open from Monday to Friday
from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Visa withdrawals come with a charge of around
3%. Credit cards are accepted in high class hotels.
We utilize US dollars or Thai baht. USD in small denominations will prove useful to you in any of the cities
or towns in Laos.
Do not bring any Kip back with you
from your visit to Laos, you will not be able to exchange them in any
other place on earth.
Our Lao Visa cost $30 USD per person upon
entry. Bring a passport size photo of yourself. The Lao officials take
Thai baht as well as USD. If you wish to have your Visa extended, you can do so
only in Vientiane, with a $2 USD cost per day. If you don't plan ahead and
wait until you arrive at the airport to take care of this extension upon
leaving the country, it will cost you $10 USD per day.
The airfare for this trip was 14,625 Baht pp, 6
flights to 3 cities on Lao Airlines. We went from Chiang Mai,
Prabang, to Vientienne, then to
Phonsavan to see the
The Plain of Jars. The tickets will read Xieng
Khouang, which is another name for Phonsavan.
There is no ATM machine inside the Luang
Prabang airport to change money, just a change house. You must buy a ticket at
the ticket office inside to use the taxis and tuk tuks to get into the center of
town, which costs $5 USD. It is walkable but if you have luggage or heavy packs,
it might be worth it to just buy the transport ticket.
When we arrived in Vientiane, we bought a taxi ticket for $6 USD,
but they wanted 65000 kip. In fact, all the money translations are a little bit
more than the straight across 10,000 = $1 USD. This happened several times.
There is a domestic tax on every domestic flight and is 5,000 kip
or .50 cents per person. The departure tax for international flights is $10 USD
Driving in Laos is risky especially in urban
areas. Lao people drive by putting their faith in the Lord Buddha. A road code
exists bit it is not respected so be careful particularly when on a motorbike.
Road insurance is a necessity in Laos.
Those seeking romance with Lao people
in mind may be disappointed. Laos, unlike many of its neighboring
countries, forbids the liaison between foreign gentlemen and local
people. Police inspections of hotels sometimes occur and one may be
subjected to a hefty fine and expulsion while the local person faces a
far harsher penalty. So be careful.
The tap water is undrinkable, but
bottled water is available everywhere. To cool your drinks, use ice
cubes, as opposed to crushed ice where bugs lurk.
When ordering wine, always order one
bottle at a time and two glasses, even if you are alone. It's customary.
Besides, someone may come by and join you!
Restaurant in Vientiane
Vientiane is known for its French influence
and they have many French restaurants from which to choose. We had lunch at
Namphou Restaurant & Bar, 99/03 Namphou Square, where there are several French
Restaurants to choose from, each with price fix menus. (P.O. Box 226, Vientiane,
Lao PDR, Tele: (856-21) 216248, mobile: (856-20) 5414439, email:
Inthavong is the manager).
It is a charming restaurant. The Chef is Son, and his wife is the front manager.
They have 2 well behaved children and everyone spoke English. Their price fixed
menu at $8USD each or $6USD offer sumptuous choices. Recommended!
Markets are everywhere in Laos, with
the two main ones being in Vientiane and
Prabang. In Vientiane you
can buy all the goods manufactured in Laos such as tribal handicrafts,
jewelry, traditional fabrics and carvings. These are sold at Talat
Sao, or morning market on Lane Xang Avenue not far from the post
In Luang Prabang there is a night
market which sets up nightly in the main street. Be prepared to bargain.
Hand woven silks, knives made from left over US steel from the war,
embroidered goods, hand made paper lanterns and more. During the day,
there is Talat That Luang behind the Stupa That Luang
which specializes in exotic products.
Depending on which town you visit, internet
service can be practically non-existent (Phonsavan) or quite convenient
(Vientiane and Luang Prabang). In either case, I wouldn't expect to get much
digital service at this time, in terms of burning CD's for photos, music or the
like. Think ahead for your digital storage needs before you arrive in Laos!
Vientiane would be your best bet for anything related to your computer.
Medical care in general is inadequate
and unevenly distributed in Laos, with most of the health care
facilities located in urban areas.
Infant mortality rates are high, and
life expectancy is low. Respiratory diseases, influenza, malaria, and
gastroenteritis are the major health problems.
The departure of most of the country's
physicians after 1975 created a serious problem for the new government.
It began to build village infirmaries and dispensaries in most of the
provinces and to train medical workers. These village medical workers,
often using only traditional medicinal herbs, now provide most of the
country's primary health care.
The health situation has improved
significantly over the last few years although there is still a lot to
do. Problems can be treated in a number of Vientiane hospitals (Mahosot,
Setthathirat and the international clinic) or in hospitals or
dispensaries in the provinces.
In serious cases or for practical reasons
(insurance coverage for instance) you may prefer to be treated in
Thailand at Nong Khai, Udon Thani or Khon Kaen which will save you a
trip to Bangkok.
Personally, we bring our own first aid
kit and try to stay healthy and avoid accidents. Other than that, we
would go to Thailand Thailand for care.
Guest Houses or Hotels
We went to Phonsavan to see the Plain of Jars.
Although the town is poised for a tourist boom, there were skimpy selections for
Guest Houses. We can recommend Banna Plain of Jars House, Rd.07.
Ban Tuern, Peak district, Xiengkhouang, Laos, PDR, Tel/Fax: 856-61212484,
Mobile: 856-20-2482816 Email:
email@example.com, Vilai Thipphavone, General Manager. It is just outside
the center of town but easy walking distance to the town's few restaurants. Try
to get a room with a view or a balcony, otherwise the inside rooms seem visually
stuffy and dark. $10USD per night, includes breakfast and hot water showers.
There are lots of places to choose from in
both Vientiane and Luang Prabang to stay the night. Try several, if you plan to
stay for more than a night or two. Some offer breakfast included in the price of
Quick Laos Phrases
Greetings/Hello - Sabaai-dii
Goodbye - sohk dii (good luck)
Thank you. - Khawp jai
Thank you very much - Khawp jai lai lai
Itís nothing/Youíre welcome - baw pen nyang
Excuse me - Khaw thoht
How are you? - sabaai-dii baw?
Iím fine. Sabaai dii
And you? Jao deh?
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person Ė the person who prizes their
independence, values their
time, and who doesnít want to mindlessly
follow the crowd.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha