Common Questions and Answers about Laos
What are the typical costs of your Laos private tours?
If booking a private tour with us, costs can range from $250/day/person for staying in nice 3-star quality hotels to over $500/day/person in high-end luxury hotels. Staying in small luxury boutique hotels can cost an average of $300 to $400/day/person. These cost estimates include not just accommodation, but also internal flights, airport transfers, tours and activities, entrance fees, private guides, and private vehicles with driver.
What are the benefits of a private tour?
There are so many that it’s hard to quantify, but here’s a few major benefits: 1) the tour is customized for your interests, which means you get to see and do the things you’re most interested in. 2) you’re not running on a fixed daily schedule, which means you have flexibility to stay as long as you want or move on early from something or even skip it altogether if that’s what you decide on the spot. 3) We’re able to design the activities at popular sights to avoid the crowds!
Is the water safe to drink?
It’s generally best to avoid tap water and ask about the source of water in restaurants, but ice is usually safe. It’s best to use bottled or purified water in hotels to drink…and brush your teeth.
Is it possible to use my mobile phone from North America in Laos?
Perhaps. 4G connectivity is good in Laos. Some providers, like T-Mobile allow for free unlimited data internationally, though it is usually at a 2g speed. However, that’s often good enough for texts and emails, using Google maps, and some browsing. If you’re staying long enough and always want good data access while you’re out and about, buy a local SIM card with a data plan for your phone. They’re quite inexpensive.
What electrical adapters are needed?
Almost all hotels have US-style outlets that are fine for plugging in electronics. However, the voltage is 240 volts, so be sure your devices can handle that. Most can!
What’s the best way to get local currency?
The official currency is the Lao kip. Notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000. There are no coins. The exchange rate is around 15,000 kip per US dollar. Both the Thai baht and the U.S. dollar are also accepted and are often used for larger transactions. If you are carrying larger amounts of cash, then it is best to carry dollars or baht. The kip is non-exchangeable outside Laos.
ATMs are available in Luang Prabang and Vientiane and most accept international debit cards. However, they charge hefty fees and limit withdrawals to 1,000,000 kip (about $100). You can exchange cash at money changers, just shop around for the best exchange rates.
Upscale hotels, shops, restaurants, and markets will accept credit cards.
Do I need to tip?
Tipping is expected by private guides and drivers, however, the amount depends on the quality of service. Generally for private guides, we recommend about $5 to $10 per person per full day in your group and about $3 to $4 for drivers. For example: if you’re a couple and you’re in Luang Prabang for two days and have a full schedule of tours and airport transfers and you’re very happy with everything, tip the guide about $40 and the driver about $15.
Elsewhere such as restaurants, tuk-tuk drivers, and hotel staff, tipping is not expected but can be an appreciated surprise. Try to give the money directly to the person you want to tip so that you can be sure they get it.