| VISAS | BORDER CROSSINGS | ECO-TOURISM | ACCOMMODATION | TRANSPORT | SPORTS AND LEISURE | MARKETS | BUSINESS CONTACTS AND SERVICES |
..On-arrival tourist visas are available at Wattay airport (Vientiane) and at the Thai-Lao Friendship bridge at Nong Khai. They are valid for 15 days and extendable for another 15 days at immigration offices in most towns. If you're looking scruffy you may have to show an onward ticket and/or proof of funds. The cost is $30 plus a $1 overtime fee if you arrive at certain times. If you want a 30-day visa (extendable for a further 30 days if you can get someone working in Laos to 'sponsor' you with a letter), available for the same price, you must get it in Bangkok or Khon Khaen in Thailand.
From Thailand: Nongkhai-Vientiane, Mukdahane-Savannakhet, Chiang Khong-Houeyxay, Ubon Ratchatani-Pakse
From Vietnam: Quangtri (Lao Bao) -Savannakhet, Vinh-Laksao
From China: Jonghong Mengla-Luang Namtha
From Cambodia: Foreigners cannot use the border crossing
From Myanmar: Foreigners cannot use the border crossing
..Laos' many charms have so far escaped the pressures of commercial tourism. Large areas of open dipterocarp and many dense tropical forests remain a pristine habitat for many rare species of wild buffalo, bears, cats and bird-life, which can no longer be observed elsewhere. Travel to remote natural environments is possible by river, elephant, jeep or mountain-bike. Unique cave systems, waterfalls and forests wait to be explored. The government's National Biodiversity Conversation Areas have assisted the preservation of the country's natural endowments.
..Accommodation, from international standard hotels to family-run guesthouses, is plentiful and offers an opportunity to experience Lao hospitality.
..For short trips, tuk-tuks and jumbos are a convenient and inexpensive mode of transport. Taxis can be booked or found at the Morning Market. Fares for public transport should be negotiated before journeys commence. Hire of cars, motorcycles and bikes can be arranged through rental companies and at some hotels.
SPORTS AND LEISURE
..Vientiane has facilities for swimming, ten-pin bowling, golf, and traditional massage, as well as gyms and fitness centres. A wide range of night clubs and bars offer a blend of Asian and Western music, and an exclusive resort one hour's drive from Vientiane offers gaming facilities for international visitors.
..Vientiane is a shoppers' haven and a visit to its markets is a highlight of a trip to the city. Talat Sao, or the "Morning Market", deserves special mention for its quality handicrafts, including textiles from many provinces, silverware and genuine antiques, as well as a wide range of household appliances and clothing. Food markets are located in each quarter of the city.
BUSINESS CONTACTS AND SERVICES
hotels have business centers with up-to-date facilities for use by their guests.
Various agencies around town also offer document translation (registered), market
research, advertising, design, printing and other services. The Foreign Investment
Management Committee ( FIMC) and a number of accounting and legal firms can
provide advice on regulations and procedures for development of enterprises
in Laos. Several local and international banks offer foreign currency banking
services. Courier services for express deliveries, and packing and shipping
firms for shipment of small and bulk goods are available.