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Laos travel facts
Basic Information
  Area 236,800 sq.km.
  Capital: Vientiane
  Population: 5.7 Million
  Language: Laos (which sounds similar to Thai), English, French and Russian
  Religion: Theravada Buddhism and Christians and Muslim.
  Country calling code: 856
  Climate:  : Laos has a warm and tropical climate with two seasons: the rainy season from the beginning of May to the end of September and the dry season from October to April. The average temperature 29 degree centigrade. Maximum temperature can reach up to 40 degree centigrade. Temperatures can drop to as low as 15 degrees or even lower in mountains. Generally, tourists are recommended to visit Laos during the months of November to March because these are cool months and rainfall is lower than other periods.
  Local Time:   GMT +7
Currency: (KIP). The currency of Laos is the Kip. There are bank notes of 1 Kip, 10 Kips, 20 Kips, 50 Kips, 100 Kips and 500 Kips. Thai Baht and US Dollar are accepted in Vientiane and numerous other provincial towns.
Exchange: Travellers cheques and foreign currencies can be changed at hotels, airports or markets. Commission is generally not charged at the market moneychangers so they tend to be cheaper, than the alternatives.
Credit cards: Major credit cards are also accepted in large shops, banks and hotels. You can also withdraw cash by using your credit cards, but it has to be done at a bank.
Business hours: Banks, Government offices and Companies are open from 08:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. and 13:00 p.m. - 16:00 p.m. Shops are generally open between 09:00 a.m. - 19:00 p.m
Electricity supply: Voltage in Laos is 220 volts AC, 50HZ. Larger hotels also offer 110V sockets for shavers only.
Water: Do not drink tap water, only drink bottled water
Photography: Sensitivity pays when taking photographs. Be very wary in areas that have (or could have) military importance such as airports, where all photography is prohibited. Also be careful when photographing official functions and parades without permission. Always ask permission before photographing a person or in a temple.
Social Greetings: A kiss or embrace from a stranger is insulting and humiliating. Traditionally, Laos's people use the Nop on meeting and using it will win you instant friends if performed sincerely. A handshake will suffice, but try to use the Laos greeting of "sabai dee".
Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Laos, but is appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal in a good restaurant may equal a day's wages.
Public Holidays (2006):
Jan 1: Western New Year's Day
Jan 6: Pathet Lao Day
Jan 20: Army Day
Mar 22: People's Party Day
Apr 13 - 15: Laotian New Year
May 1: Labor Day
Aug 13: Lao Issara, Day of Free Laos
Oct 12: Day of the Liberation from French
Dec 2: Lao National Day