Lao food doesn’t have the variety and depth of the more famous cuisine of neighboring China, Thailand and Vietnam, but you can eat well in Laos if you take the time to learn a little about the cuisine while you’re there. While few people travel to this country with food as their prime objective, a little experimentation can take you a long way towards appreciating the cuisine can be very rewarding.
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Transport infrastructure in Laos is barely recognizable considering what existed a few years ago. Huge, foreign-funded road on projects have transformed the network of rough dirt tracks into relatively luxurious sealed affairs. The lack of potholes has ushered in a battalion of buses and services, and getting around Laos is easy and cheap, if sometimes very slow.
Many travelers are choosing to come and go via Laos’s numerous land and river borders, something we’ve acknowledged in this guide by giving detailed descriptions of all border crossings that were open to foreigner when we researched this edition. While many border options, flying into Lao is refreshing in that you don’t need to shop around much – only a few airlines Laos and prices don’t vary much.
The annual monsoon cycle that affect of mainland Southeast Asia produce a dry and wet monsoon climate with three basic seasons for most of Laos. The southwest monsoon arrives in Laos between May July and lasts into November.
The monsoon is followed by a dry period (from November to May), beginning with lower relative temperatures and cool breezes created by Asia’s northeast monsoon (which by passes most of Laos), lasting until mid February. Exceptions to this general tern include Xieng Khuang, Hua and Phongsali Provinces, which receive rainfall coming from Vietnam and China during the months Apr and May.
Like many places in Southeast Asia, traveling with children in Laos can be a lot of fun as long as you come prepared with the right attitudes, physical requirements and the usual parental patience.
Amenities geared towards children – such as high chairs in restaurants, child safety seats for vehicles, or nappy-changing facilities in public restrooms are virtually unknown in Laos. Thus parents will have to be extra resourceful in seeking out substitutes or follow the example of Lao families (which means holding smaller children on their laps much of the time).
Over the last 15 years or so Laos has earned reputation among visitors as a remarkably safe place to travel with little crime reported and few of the scams so often found in more places such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. And while the vast majority of Laotians remain honest and welcoming, things aren’t quite as idyllic as they once were. The main change has been in the rise of petty crime, such as theft and low-level seams, which are more annoying than actually dangerous. That’s not to say Laos is danger free. However, most dangers are easy enough to avoid.