ABOUT LAOS

LAOS OVERVIEW:
 
Location.
 
Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. Vientiane, the capital, is the site of the That Luang monument, where a reliquary reportedly houses the Buddha’s breastbone, plus the Patuxai war memorial and Talat Sao (Morning Market), a complex jammed with food, clothes and craft stalls.

Climate.

Laos has a hot and humid tropical climate. There are two seasons, the rainy season lasts from May until October while the much more pleasant dry season lasts from November until April. During the rainy season there is about 200 to 300 mm of rain a month and the high temperatures, averaging around 33 C during the day and around 24 C at night, making this time the worst for a visit. The dry season is much more pleasant with days still close to 30 C and nights a nice 15 C to 18 C. Daytime in the period of March until May can be very hot in large parts of the country, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40 C. Mountainous areas, especially in the North, can get rather chilly during northern hemisphere winter, when northern wind blows from China.

When is the best time to visit Laos?

The small, landlocked country of Laos is best visited between October and April, when the weather's warm and dry throughout. River travel is best between November and January, when high water levels make passage easy along Laos' main waterway, the Mekong River.


General information.

Area: 236 800 km².

Population: 7 million inhabitants.

Capital:  Vientiane.

Official Religion: Buddhism ( 67%), 
other religions including animism accounted for about 30.9 percent,1.5 percent are Christians and less than 1 percent are Muslims and Bahai.

Languages: Lao , Thai dialects ( Hmong , Mon-Khmer , and Sino- Tibetan) , French and English.

Points of interests: Vientaine, Luang Phrabang, Vang Vieng, Pakse, Khong island.

Events and Festivals.

– Makha Busa – during the February Full Moon is marked by chanting, offerings and a candlelit processions.  Vientiane and Wat Phu are the best places to be to witness the celebrations.
– Vietnamese Tet & Chinese New Year – sometime during January or February is marked by parties, fireworks and visits to temples. Best places to be are Vientiane, Pakse andSavannakhet.
– Bun Pi Mai– on the 14-16 April, also know as Laos New Year, is when people take to the streets and douse each other with water, wear traditional clothing and clean their houses!  The best place to be for this is Luang Prabang due to the processions which take place. These include lots of traditional clothing and elephants.
– Visakha Busa – in May, Full Moon (15th day of the 6th lunar month), celebrates the day of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing into nirvana.
– Boun Bang Fai – in May, also know as the Rocket Festival, takes place along side Visakha Busa. Involves, huge homemade rockets, large wooden phalluses, music, dancing, drinking and cross-dressing.
– Bun Khao Phansa– in Jul,y Full Moon, is the beginning of the 3-month Rains Retreat when monks station themselves in a single monastery.
– Bun Awk Phansa – in October, Full Moon and Celebrates the 3-month Rains Retreat coming to an end.
– Bun Nam – in October, day after Bun Awk Phansa. Also know as the boat racing festival, boat races take place in most of the larger riverside towns
– Bun Pha That Luang – in November, Full Moon, is when Monks receive alms and floral votives. Processions take place between Pha That Luang and Wat Si Muang in Vientiane making it the best place to be. If you find yourself elsewhere in Laos you’ll experience fireworks, music and plenty of drinking.
– Laos National Day – on 2nd December is a Public Holiday.

Money.

The kip has been the currency of Laos since 1952. Frequently used banknotes are in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 kip. Less frequently you may find banknotes with the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 or 50,000 kip. There are also 10, 20 and 50 att coins, but these are rarely used.

ATMs are becoming increasingly common in the larger cities in Laos, including Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Viang Vieng and Luang Namtha.

Language.

Laotian is the official language of the country. Learning a few words can be helpful in big cities but once in the countryside it won’t go very far because half of the population of Laos does not speak Laotian as their first language or at home. Although Russian and French are spoken by older people, most of the younger people learn English as the common international language. Laotian is a non-tonal language with an alphabet based on the Thai one.

DOS AND DON'TS WHILE TRAVELLING IN LAOS.

Whether you are travelling to Laos, either for a short visit or for a longer stay, it is important to know what you should or shouldn’t do in this country.
 
. Dos.
 
- The Laos word for Hello is "Sa Bai Dee", say with a smile and you will be welcomed.
 
- The formal greeting is called "Nop", is usually used with handshake between men. 
 
- Take off shoes before enter Lao's house or temple.
 
- Dress neatly, keep silence and be polite while visit temples or any sacred places in Laos.
 
- If you want to join the Alms Giving ceremony in every morning, a traditional custom of Laotian, keep silence and show your respect for this ritual.
 
- Accept drink or water that Lao people serve even you don't want to drink. 
 
- Try Lao traditional foods as much as possible. 
 
. Don'ts.
 
- Use your feet to touch or point at something, someone. 
 
- Shout or make noise in public. 
 
- Throw trash in wrong places is considered improper. 
 
- Bath nude in public is impolite and rude to Lao culture.
 
- Turn you back to the statue of Buddha.
 
- Make noise, honking on joining Laos streets.
 
- Touch ons Lao women's body or kiss her hands without permission is rude, discourteous. 













































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