Currency: Lao Kip (LAK)
Exchange rate: approx. 10,792 LAK per € (November 2020)
Time zone: UTC + 7
Country code (phone): +856
Climate (for capital): Tropical climate
Eating and shopping
According to franciscogardening, the Laotian cuisine appears at first glance not quite as varied and diverse as the Thai. Nevertheless, those who embark on the culinary adventure will be richly rewarded. The Lao noodle soup pho is the best in Southeast Asia. It can be adapted to the respective taste as you wish. Simply add sugar, crushed peanuts, lemon juice, chillies and various fresh herbs, which vary greatly depending on the region.
You can buy fruit and vegetables at local markets and small street stalls. The fruit, which has already been cut into bite-sized pieces and can be bought for little money from mobile street vendors, is particularly tasty and simply practical.
Vientiane is now well stocked with supermarkets where you can buy all kinds of everyday groceries. Western specialties such as parmesan, spaghetti, olives, various types of cheese and other dairy products such as yoghurt are easy to get. Some of the small supermarkets in the center of Vientiane have recently opened until midnight. If you don’t want to cook yourself, you can choose between many restaurants in Vientiane with very good cuisine – from Lao to Indian to German. There are also various options in Vientiane for fans of fast food.
Fresh fruit and delicious Lao food can be found on every street corner in Laos.
Money and money transfer
KIP, Baht, and US dollars are commonly accepted forms of cash in Laos. Other currencies can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices. In the meantime there are also many ATMs, at which cash can be withdrawn with an EC card. However, the maximum amount per withdrawal is between 700,000 kip (approx. 64 €) and a maximum of 2,000,000 kip (approx. 185 €), so that a larger amount of cash must be withdrawn more often. Most banks charge a service fee that is displayed when you withdraw.
There are no more coins in circulation in Laos. There are 100, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 kip banknotes and, since February 2012, a 100,000 kip note. Already at the 450th anniversary of Vientiane in 2010 there was a short note with the value 100,000 kip.
However, there are hardly any bills smaller than 1000 kip in circulation. Now and then (mostly in the country) you can still get the old 100 or 500 kip notes.
During the 1997 Asian crisis, the exchange rate of the Lao kip (LAK) fell from 1000 kip to 10,000 kip for one dollar. The bank note with the highest value 1000 kip was no longer sufficient, new bank notes were printed.
The current exchange rate can be queried on a daily basis using a currency converter – currently you get around 10,792 kip for one euro.
Basically, living, working and traveling for foreigners in Laos are not dangerous. However, one should not act completely thoughtless. Burglaries, mopeds and pickpockets are now more common. This can be particularly dangerous when driving a moped if the bag is torn off the shoulder.
The petty crime in larger cities such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang and in highly tourist-frequented places such as Vang Vieng is steadily increasing. Particular warnings are given against car and bus journeys between Luang Prabang and Vientiane at night.
The US State Department, the British Foreign Office and the Foreign Office provide information on the current security situation in the country.
Road traffic also harbors certain safety risks. On the one hand, because of the driving style that takes getting used to and the condition of many vehicles. On the other hand, despite many “Don’t drink and drive” campaigns, many road users still drive under the influence of alcohol. The seat belt requirement has meanwhile also arrived in Laos, but is only reluctantly complied with. Every year around 1000 people die in traffic. In 2011, a French paramedic founded the first emergency service Vientiane Rescue 1623, which takes care of injured people in Vientian traffic free of charge and saves many lives. The Vientiane Rescue is financed by donations and is nationally known.
Important phone numbers for emergencies
- Ambulance: 195
- Fire department: 190
- Traffic Police: 191
- Tourist Police (English speaking): + 856-21-251-128
- Vientiane Rescue: 1623
Internet and telecommunications
Laos is still the country with the lowest telecommunications density in Southeast Asia.
In the capital and in larger cities there are now many Internet cafés that offer fast and cheap connections. In private households in Vientiane there is usually a landline network and thus the possibility of establishing an Internet connection via the telephone connection.
Almost 90% of the population now use mobile phones, which are a good alternative to the poorly developed landline network. There are only 1.48 million landline connections in the entire country.
Housing and supply
Should I open an account in Laos? Which kindergarten and school do I send my child to? How do we find a suitable home in Vientiane?
The German Embassy in Vientiane also provides helpful tips on its website and helps out in emergencies. For longer stays abroad, you can be included in a so-called crisis prevention list (ELEFAND).
The film forum takes place once or twice a month in the German Embassy, where German and international films are shown, always with English-language subtitles (OmeU).
Sok dee! – so the Laotian farewell greeting.
The Laotian Buddhist year begins in April with the lively New Year festival “Pi Mai”, which is celebrated nationwide, most beautifully in Luang Prabang. Many of the holidays are celebrated with large festivals when public life is largely idle.