Currency? Laotian Kip (LAK). ($1USD = 8,000LAK, £1 = 10,500LAK, €1 = 9,150LAK)

Visa required? Yes, available at the border for a 30 day entry.  Prices vary by country but expect to pay at least $20USD

laoriverfront
Lao-Thai border, the edge of Vientiane

Weather? Hot and humid all year round, with the rainy season typically running from May to late September with the dry season beginning in October and ending in April.  Expect temperatures of high 20s and low thirties.  When it rains in Laos, it absolutely buckets it down, so be warned.

When to visit? The dry season.  If you plan on going to Vang Vieng I thoroughly recommend going during the dry season after my experience going during the rainy season when the river levels were higher and the current much stronger.  Visiting the Kuang Si waterfall is also best done during the dry months especially if you want to hike up to the top.

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Food? While not nearly as acclaimed as their neighbors, Laotian cuisine is unique.  Sticky rice is arguably the national food of Laos and is eaten with your fingers.  Lao dishes are typically rice or noodle based with vegetables and grilled meats on the side.

Sakura
Legendary Sakura bar in Vang Vieng, free Lao Lao whisky drinks from 8-9pm!! An absolute must visit after a day out tubing

Alcohol prices? Beers here are the most expensive in Southeast Asia due to Laos being a landlocked country leading to inflated prices on most products.  You can get a local beer such as the famous Beer Lao for $2.20USD. Cocktails typically start at around a similar price.

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Top destinations? Luang Prabang,, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Si Phan Don (Four Thousand islands)

National holidays? Like Thailand and Cambodia, Laos has their New Year celebrations in mid-April but you should expect celebrations are a lot more subdued than in Thailand.

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Top backpacking experiences? Crossing from Thailand on a boat, tubing in Vang Vieng, swimming in the river and pools   near the Kuang Si waterfall, and Irrawaddy dolphin spotting at Si Phan Don