Country: Cambodia
Capital: Phnom Penh
Area: 181,040 sq km
Population: 14 million
Religions: Mainly Buddhist (around 95%)
Languages: Khmer, English gaining popularity among the younger generation with French spoken mostly by the elderly in the main cities.
Time: GMT + 7 hours
Visa Formalities: UK citizens require a visa.
Currency: Riel
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz cycle
Country: Laos
Capital: Vientiane
Area: 236,800 sq km
Population: 6.36 million
Religions: Buddhist 60%, animist and others 40%
Languages: Lao (official), some English and French in the tourist places
Time: GMT + 7 hours
Visa Formalities: UKcitizens require a visa. It can be obtained at the main internationalcheckpoints throughout Laos. A 15-day single entry visa costs US$30.
Currency: Kip
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz cycle
Country: Vietnam
Capital: Hanoi , Largest city – Ho Chi Minh City
Area: 329,560 sq kms
Population: 80 million
Religions: Mainly Buddhist (around 80%)
Languages: Vietnamese. English fast gaining popularity among the youngergeneration with French spoken mostly by the elderly in the main cities.
Time: GMT + 7 hours.
Visa Formalities: UK citizens require a visa.
Currency: Dong.
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz cycle

Cambodia – Laos – Vietnam

The renowned Central Market (New Market) is one of the largest and busiest markets in Phnom Penh, which is most popular for locals and foreigners. Located in the heart of the capital, the renowned large building is designed by French architect. There are a varieties of items on sales such as souvenir gifts, artifacts dated back to French Indochina era, jewelry, household appliances and nearly every thing you can think of.The Toul Tom Pong Market (The Russian Market) is the city’s best source of object dárt. Items for sales including miniature Buddha, various ritual objects and old Indochinese coins. There are also quite a few gold smiths and silversmiths inside the market.

The Olympic market, owned by one of Cambodia’s most powerful tycoon. A great deal of wholesaling is done at the Olympic Market, near the Olympic Stadium. The market was upgraded and reopened in 1994 as the first three-floor covered market in the Kingdom.

Rice and fish are the basic food items among the Khmer people. Famous classical Khmer specialty widely enjoyed up to now are: Nhaom (a popular cuisine comprises of vinegar, dried fish and herb and vegetable); Kor Kor ( normally cooked with fish and a mix of vegetables ); Amok (fish cooked in coconut); Samlor Machu (vinegar soup cooked with fish and mixed with a variety of vegetables). Other dishes cooked with pork, chicken, beef arealso the main diets.

Chinese and Western menus are commonly available in the capita of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Visitors to Phnom Penh should be aware that armed theft of tourists can occur & is more likely late at night. These are infrequent, isolated incidents & shouldn`t necessarily deter you from sampling Phnom Penh’s extensive nightlife. Simply take just as much money as you need with you. Resident Ex-pats advise carrying a token 10-20$ & to hide any other money / valuables. Once it gets late & quieter, always use motos to get around the city, preferably with a driver you know. You’ll also feel more comfortable if you go out with a group of people from your guest-house.

Cambodia has such an unstable recent history that no-one is ever quite sure what’s around the corner. It is advisable to keep yourself well-informed about current affairs within the country.There are some excellent cheap English & French publications which allow you to do this : English: Cambodia Daily 1200 riel, Phnom Penh Post 3500 riel,fortnightly Bayon Pearnik – free monthly, French : Cambodge Soir, 1500 riel – daily.

The other major information sources are from guest-houses & people, both long-term resident ex-pats & travellers themselves. In Phnom Penh, Capitol GH is a renowned place for info, but now any friendly guest-house area is good for finding out what you need to know.

With regard landmines – There are still many thousands of land-mines & unexploded ordnance in more remote areas of Cambodia. The chances of approaching these areas unknown to you is very small. In rural areas, always seek local advice & don’t stray from that path.

Health insurance, including emergency evacuation, is absolutely essential. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payments for any medical treatment. The cost of medical evacuation is high. The hospital in Phnom Penh is reliable. It is suggested that any visitors bring adequate supplies of any essential personal medication, since that medication may not be available in Cambodia.

Visitors to Phnom Penh should be aware that armed theft of tourists can occur & is more likely late at night. These are infrequent, isolated incidents & shouldn`t necessarily deter you from sampling Phnom Penh’s extensive nightlife. Simply take just as much money as you need with you. Resident Ex-pats advise carrying a token 10-20$ & to hide any other money / valuables. Once it gets late & quieter, always use motos to get around the city, preferably with a driver you know. You’ll also feel more comfortable if you go out with a group of people from your guest-house.

Cambodia has such an unstable recent history that no-one is ever quite sure what’s around the corner. It is advisable to keep yourself well-informed about current affairs within the country.There are some excellent cheap English & French publications which allow you to do this : English: Cambodia Daily 1200 riel, Phnom Penh Post 3500 riel,fortnightly Bayon Pearnik – free monthly, French : Cambodge Soir, 1500 riel – daily.

The other major information sources are from guest-houses & people, both long-term resident ex-pats & travellers themselves. In Phnom Penh, Capitol GH is a renowned place for info, but now any friendly guest-house area is good for finding out what you need to know.

With regard landmines – There are still many thousands of land-mines & unexploded ordnance in more remote areas of Cambodia. The chances of approaching these areas unknown to you is very small. In rural areas, always seek local advice & don’t stray from that path.

Cambodian currency is Riels, which is circulated in mere form of cash note with tradable denomination commencing from 100; 200; 500; 1000; 2000; 5000; 10000; 20000; 50000; 100000.

Due to high rate of inflation, which is 4000 riels/USD at this time of writing, Cambodian households and business prefer to apply USD cash in the course of daily business. For this reason, it is common to see USD cash is widely accepted for trading all over Cambodia.

Cambodia has its national bank called The National Bank of Cambodia, and several privately-owned banks operating in major cities. Due to a lack of faith, most Cambodian households and business have not applied banking system for check accounts or whatsoever. They have accounts open with the National Bank of Cambodia and with private banks, but this is just in favor of easing necessary Overseas Transfers.

Credit cards and traveler cheques have to be encashed, which can be done with banks in Phnom Penh only, for trading in Cambodia. However, some major hotels or business in Phnom Penh accept credit cards and traveler cheques on condition that compensation charge with rates from 2% up.

Tourists are advised to make use of USD cash for personal petty cash.

On 21 April 2010 the Royal Government of Cambodia informed Diplomatic Missions in Cambodia of new procedures to be followed between foreign and Cambodian citizens who wish to marry in Cambodia. Information on the procedures and the marriage application form can be obtained from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh, or directly from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Certificates of No Impediment and marriage affidavits are issued at the applicant’s request from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. Approval or refusal for marriage applications between foreign and Cambodian nationals in Cambodia is given by the Royal Government of Cambodia only, and not the Embassy.

LAOS

Travel by air is the most convenient means transportation within Laos. Laos Aviation flies daily from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Pakse and Oudomsay. Furthermore, there are several flights a week to Laung Namtha,Sayabori, Houeixay, Sam Neua, Saravane, Lakxao, Muangkhong and attapue. The latest information aboat flight schedules and routes is avaible at the Laos viation Head office in 2 Phangkham road, Vientiane,Laos has 18,135 km national road, 2,55km of which are paved. The most importance road is route No 13 linking, which runs north south from China to Cambodia. It links Pak Mong in north with Hlong in the south passing though major urban areas of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassack. Accept that, there are the road No.1 linked between Thailand and China, No.8 and No.9 lined between Thailand and Vietnam.The Mekong River flows though 1,865 km of Laos. Although not navigable in its entirety, it provides a natural means of transportation over long stretches. In addition many tributary rivers of the Mekong River such as the Nam ou, Nam Ngum, Se Don, and others river are used for water transportation.The kip is the official currency of Laos. The bank note are presently in denomination of 100, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 kip. All major currencies suck as the US Dollar, France Franc, DM, Yen, Bath and others can be exchanged at Banks that are located in all major towns. In Luang Prabang and Vientiane competitive rates are offered numerous authorized private exchange bureaus. One exchange facility is available at Wattay airport in Vientiane.Exchange bureaus and banks will cash traveler cheques in major currencies. Furthermore, most domestic and foreign bank in Vientiane allow cash withdrawals on visa credit cards can be used in many restaurants and hotels, too. In case of journey to remote areas it is, of cause, advisable to take a good supply of kip with you.

VIETNAM

Dominated by rice fields and flanked by mountains and the sea, Vietnam is a country of sublime beauty and warm, friendly people. Having left its recentlyturbulent past behind, the country has a vibrant and lively modern face. With hilltribes maintaining their centuries old traditions, bustling modern cities with hecticcrowds standing alongside quaint ancient traditional towns, floating villages andspectacular natural beauty with miles of pristine sand beaches, Vietnamis one of most diverse and enjoyable of the Southeast Asian countries.What To See With its great natural beauty, its architectural ruinsand its rich ethnic variety, Vietnam is unrivalled in its attractions. For a firsttime visitor Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City form a good start. Hanoi hasFrench colonial appeal with its lakes and shaded boulevards co-existing with thehustle and bustle of a modern growing city. A day trip can be taken to the WorldHeritage Site of Halong Bay with an option of staying overnight on a traditionalstyle junk.
Hue is considered the cultural capital of Vietnam with its Nguyen dynasty tombsand the Imperial Forbidden City. Hoi An is a delightful World Heritage town whilethe vibrant Ho Chi Minh City provides visitors with an insight into the recent pastof Vietnam and acts as a base for exploring the Mekong Delta.
For those with more time, the hill tribes of Sapa, the hill station of Dalat andthe beaches of Danang, Qui Nhon, Nha Trang and Phan Thiet offer excellent chancesof seeing more of this fascinating land. You can also take a river cruise up theMekong into Cambodia. Vietnam is easily combined with Cambodia and Laos for a morecomplete visit to Indochina.
When To Go Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate. In general,October to Marchare the best months to travel to the country as a whole but therearedistinct regional variations in the climate.The Mekong delta has heavy rains in September and October, as doescentral Vietnam. The days are generally warm with temperatures around30°C. Mid-winter is slightly cooler, as are the hill stations which canalso be covered in mist.
Getting ThereThere are no direct flights from the UK to Vietnam. Thai Airways via Bangkok, Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur, Singapore Airlines via Singapore, Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong and Vietnam Airlines via Parisare among the airlines which offer daily connections to Hanoi and HoChi Minh City from London.The journey time is approximately 15-16 hours inclusive of connection times.
Getting Around Air Travel The main destinations in Vietnam arewell connected to each other by air – flights are reliable and relatively inexpensive.Given the length of the country, flying is often the only feasible way of coveringall the important destinations if one has limited time at ones disposal. Road Travel Roads are generally in good condition in the country, althoughthe Vietnamese have their own version of road etiquette. Travelling overland byroad is a good way of seeing the countryside, and is often unavoidable as not alldestinations can be accessed by air.
Train Travel
Trains are one of the principal means of transport for locals in Vietnam, and the Reunification Express connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, one of the most popular and well-known trains. The air-conditioned upper class cabins are basic but comfortable – suitable for an overnight or a day journey of a few hours. Carriages in the offer a luxury train journey from Hanoi to Lao Cai for the hill station of Sapa.
Boat Travel
A memorable journey can be taken on board the Pandaw cruise that plies the Mekong from Saigon to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
AirVietnam operates 17 major civil airports, including three international gateways: Noi Bai serving Hanoi, Danang International Airport serving Danang City, and Tan Son Nhat serving Ho Chi Minh City. Tan Son Nhat is the largest, handling 75 percent of international passenger traffic. According to the approved plan, Vietnam will have 10 international airports by 2015 (besides the three above-mentioned airport, they are: Lien Khuong International Airport, Phu Bai International Airport, Cam Ranh International Airport, Phu Quoc International Airport, Cat Bi International Airport, Can Tho International Airport and Long Thanh International Airport). The planned Long Thanh International Airport will be built on an area of 50 square kilometers and will have full capacity of 100 million passengers, 5 metric tons of cargo per annum. Vietnam Airlines, the national airline, has a fleet of 60 (+77 orders) (150 in 2020) aircraft Besides the state-owned Vietnam Airlines, there are some private airlines like Jetstar Pacific, Indochina Airlines, VietJet AirAsia, Trai Thien Air Cargo.The modern transport network of Vietnam was originally developed under French rule for the purpose of raw materials harvesting, and reconstructed and extensively modernized following the Vietnam War. The road system is the most popular form of transportation in the country. Vietnam’s road system includes national roads administered by the central level; provincial roads managed by the provincial level; district roads managed by the district level; urban roads managed by cities and towns; and commune roads managed by the commune level.
Road

Bicycles, motor scooters and motorcycles remain the most popular forms of road transport in Vietnam’s cities, towns, and villages although the number of privately owned automobiles is also on the rise, especially in the larger cities. Public bus operated by private companies is the main long distance travel means for many people. Traffic congestion is a serious problem in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as the cities’ roads struggle to cope with the booming numbers of automobiles.
Rail

In 2009, Vietnam and Japan signed a deal to build a high-speed railway using Japanese technology. Vietnamese high speed engineers were sent to Japan to take a high-speed course from March to November. Since 2006, Vietnam has sent 100 high-speed operators to take courses in Japan so they can operate it once it is completed. The railway will be a 1,630-km-long express route and contain a total of 26 stations, including Hanoi and Thu Thiem terminus in Ho Chi Minh city. It will help reduce the travel time between the country’s two largest cities to under 10 hours.

Using the planned technology (Shinkansen), the railway will be designed for trains to travel at a maximum speed of 360 km per hour. However, the consultant joint venture recommended running trains at a maximum of 320 km per hour using Fastech 360s trains. As scheduled, the railway lines from Hanoi to central Vinh and from central Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam will be laid during the 2010-2015 period. From 2015-2020, construction will begin on the routes between Vinh and Nha Trang and between Hanoi and the northern mountainous provinces of Lao Cai and Lang Son. Water

The nation has seven developed ports and harbors at Cam Ranh, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Gai (Halong City), Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang. There are also more than 17,000 km of navigable waterways, which play a significant role in rural life owing to the extensive network of rivers in Vietnam.

Climate

Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate, with humidity averaging 84 % throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and the marked variety of topographical relief, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place. During the winter or dry season, extending roughly from November to April, the monsoon winds usually blow from the northeast along the China coast and across the Gulf of Tonkin, picking up considerable moisture; consequently the winter season in most parts of the country is dry only by comparison with the rainy or summer season. During the southwesterly summer monsoon, occurring from May to October, the heated air of the Gobi Desert rises, far to the north, inducing moist air to flow inland from the sea and deposit heavy rainfall.

Annual rainfall is substantial in all regions and torrential in some, ranging from 1,200 to 3,000 millimeters (47.2 to 118.1 in). Nearly 90 % of the precipitation occurs during the summer. The average annual temperature is generally higher in the plains than in the mountains and plateaus. Temperatures range from a low of 5 °C (41 °F) in December and January, the coolest months, to more than 37 °C (98.6 °F) in April, the hottest month. Seasonal divisions are more clearly marked in the northern half than in the southern half of the country, where, except in some of the highlands, seasonal temperatures vary only a few degrees, usually in the 21–28 °C (69.8–82.4 °F) range.

Visa

ROYAL EMBASSY of CAMBODIA

64 Brondesbury Park
Willesden Green
LONDON – NW6 7AT
United Kingdom
Tel : 020-8451 7850
Fax : 020-8451 7594
E-mail: cambodianembassy@btconnect.com
Website: http://www.cambodianembassy.org.uk

Visa Requirements

All visitors to Cambodia must have a visa.
Each applicant must strictly complete one visa application form and submit it together with:
Flight itinerary details.
One passport-size photoghaph.
Passport (valid for at least four months after the date of return from Cambodia
Tourist visa fee: £15.00 GBP. ( Cash/Bank cheque should be payable to the embassy of Cambodia ).

Note: The above is only for information purpose. Visa requirement might be changed by the concerned embassy, hence kindly visit the embassy website or speak to the concerned authority before applying for the visa.

Visa

AMBASSADE DE LA REPUBLIC DEMOCRATIQUE POPULAIRE LAO

74 Avenue Raymond Poincar – 75116
PARIS
FRANCE
Tel : 033 7 30 97 31 53
Fax : 033 1 47 27 57 89

There is currently no Laos representation in the United Kingdom, visa and immigration enquiries should be directed to the above.

Visa Requirements

All visitors to Laos require a passport valid for at least 6 months after arrival in Laos. In addition all visitors require a visa for the duration of their stay .Visas are stamped at the port of entry.

Note: The above is only for information purpose. Visa requirement might be changed by the concerned embassy, hence kindly visit the embassy website or speak to the concerned authority before applying for the visa.

Visa

EMBASSY OF VIETNAM

12 – 14 Victoria Road,
LONDON – W8 5RD,
Tel : 020 7937 1912,
Fax : 020 7937 6108 or 020 7565 3853
E-mail : consular@vietnamembassy.org.uk
Website : http://www.vietnamembassy.org.uk/consular.html

Visa Requirements

Applicants for an entry Visa to Vietnam can be made in person or by post to the Embassy of Vietnam. Application in person can be made by the applicant of any representative.
Original passport whose validity must exceed that of the visa by at least one month.
One complete APPLICATION FORM F.
One passport photograph taken not more than one year ago.
Visa Fee : APPLICABLE AS PER THE APPLICANT.

Note: The above is only for information purpose. Visa requirement might be changed by the concerned embassy, hence kindly visit the embassy website or speak to the concerned authority before applying for the visa.

CAMBODIA

Local laws and customs

On 21 April 2010 the Royal Government of Cambodia informed Diplomatic Missions in Cambodia of new procedures to be followed between foreign and Cambodian citizens who wish to marry in Cambodia. Information on the procedures and the marriage application form can be obtained from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh, or directly from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Certificates of No Impediment and marriage affidavits are issued at the applicant’s request from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. Approval or refusal for marriage applications between foreign and Cambodian nationals in Cambodia is given by the Royal Government of Cambodia only, and not the Embassy.The sexual abuse of children is a serious crime. The UK and Cambodian authorities are committed to combating travelling child sex offenders. Those arrested and convicted can expect to receive long sentences in a Cambodian prison where facilities are very poor. The UK has no prisoner transfer agreement with Cambodia and those found guilty can expect to serve their full prison term in Cambodia, have their visas revoked and be deported when released. Legislation in the UK, The Sex Offenders Act 1997, can be used in the UK to prosecute those who commit sex offences against children abroad and has been used successfully in cases of British nationals who have committed such offences in Cambodia.

Penalties for drug offences, including those involving Class C, drugs are severe. Prison sentences can be long and served in grim conditions. In addition to the criminal penalties, you should be aware that drugs have been the cause of a number of deaths of travellers in Cambodia. These are suspected to be a result of the high purity, or adulteration by unknown substances, of the drugs involved.

You should not take photographs in or near airports or military bases. You should ask permission before taking pictures of members of the public especially monks and other religious figures. When entering religious and cultural sites it is a courtesy to dress in appropriate clothing. You are expected to remove your shoes when entering temples and private accommodation.

Currency

Cambodian currency is Riels, which is circulated in mere form of cash note with tradable denomination commencing from 100; 200; 500; 1000; 2000; 5000; 10000; 20000; 50000; 100000.Due to high rate of inflation, which is 4000 riels/USD at this time of writing, Cambodian households and business prefer to apply USD cash in the course of daily business. For this reason, it is common to see USD cash is widely accepted for trading all over Cambodia.

Cambodia has its national bank called The National Bank of Cambodia, and several privately-owned banks operating in major cities. Due to a lack of faith, most Cambodian households and business have not applied banking system for check accounts or whatsoever. They have accounts open with the National Bank of Cambodia and with private banks, but this is just in favor of easing necessary Overseas Transfers.

Credit cards and traveler cheques have to be encashed, which can be done with banks in Phnom Penh only, for trading in Cambodia. However, some major hotels or business in Phnom Penh accept credit cards and traveler cheques on condition that compensation charge with rates from 2% up.

Tourists are advised to make use of USD cash for personal petty cash.

Social Conventions

Sensitivity to politically-related subjects in conversation is advisable. Avoid pointing your foot at a person or touching someone on the head. Women should keep their shoulders covered and not wear shorts when visiting pagodas.

Health Care

Health insurance, including emergency evacuation, is absolutely essential. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payments for any medical treatment. The cost of medical evacuation is high. The hospital in Phnom Penh is reliable. It is suggested that any visitors bring adequate supplies of any essential personal medication, since that medication may not be available in Cambodia.

Safety

Visitors to Phnom Penh should be aware that armed theft of tourists can occur & is more likely late at night. These are infrequent, isolated incidents & shouldn`t necessarily deter you from sampling Phnom Penh’s extensive nightlife. Simply take just as much money as you need with you. Resident Ex-pats advise carrying a token 10-20$ & to hide any other money / valuables. Once it gets late & quieter, always use motos to get around the city, preferably with a driver you know. You’ll also feel more comfortable if you go out with a group of people from your guest-house.

Cambodia has such an unstable recent history that no-one is ever quite sure what’s around the corner. It is advisable to keep yourself well-informed about current affairs within the country.There are some excellent cheap English & French publications which allow you to do this : English: Cambodia Daily 1200 riel, Phnom Penh Post 3500 riel,fortnightly Bayon Pearnik – free monthly, French : Cambodge Soir, 1500 riel – daily.

The other major information sources are from guest-houses & people, both long-term resident ex-pats & travellers themselves. In Phnom Penh, Capitol GH is a renowned place for info, but now any friendly guest-house area is good for finding out what you need to know.

With regard landmines – There are still many thousands of land-mines & unexploded ordnance in more remote areas of Cambodia. The chances of approaching these areas unknown to you is very small. In rural areas, always seek local advice & don’t stray from that path.

Shopping

The renowned Central Market (New Market) is one of the largest and busiest markets in Phnom Penh, which is most popular for locals and foreigners. Located in the heart of the capital, the renowned large building is designed by French architect. There are a varieties of items on sales such as souvenir gifts, artifacts dated back to French Indochina era, jewelry, household appliances and nearly every thing you can think of.

The Toul Tom Pong Market (The Russian Market) is the city’s best source of object dárt. Items for sales including miniature Buddha, various ritual objects and old Indochinese coins. There are also quite a few gold smiths and silversmiths inside the market.

The Olympic market, owned by one of Cambodia’s most powerful tycoon. A great deal of wholesaling is done at the Olympic Market, near the Olympic Stadium. The market was upgraded and reopened in 1994 as the first three-floor covered market in the Kingdom.

Food

Rice and fish are the basic food items among the Khmer people. Famous classical Khmer specialty widely enjoyed up to now are: Nhaom (a popular cuisine comprises of vinegar, dried fish and herb and vegetable); Kor Kor ( normally cooked with fish and a mix of vegetables ); Amok (fish cooked in coconut); Samlor Machu (vinegar soup cooked with fish and mixed with a variety of vegetables). Other dishes cooked with pork, chicken, beef arealso the main diets.

Chinese and Western menus are commonly available in the capita of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Electricity

Voltage in Cambodia is 220 volts AC, 50HZ.

LAOS

Local laws and customs

You should be aware of and respect local laws at all timesDo not get involved with illegal drugs. Possession, trafficking and manufacture of such drugs are serious offences in Laos. Those caught face lengthy prison sentences or the death penalty.

There have been several deaths as a result of drug abuse among foreigners visiting Laos.

The Lao Government prohibits sexual relationships between foreign citizens and Lao nationals, except when the two parties have been married in accordance with Lao Family Law. It is not unknown for Lao authorities to demand entry into hotel rooms or guesthouses where they suspect this regulation is being broken. Permission for marriage or engagement to a Lao citizen must be submitted in a formal application to the Lao authorities. Penalties for engaging in prohibited sexual contact or failing to register a relationship range from US$500 to US$5,000 and may also involve imprisonment.

It is illegal not to carry an ID document or a passport, and fines for not having documentation for presentation on demand can be high.

Photographing or visiting military sites is prohibited and can result in arrest or detention.

Getting Around

Travel by AirTravel by air is the most convenient means transportation within Laos. Laos Aviation flies daily from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Pakse and Oudomsay. Furthermore, there are several flights a week to Laung Namtha,Sayabori, Houeixay, Sam Neua, Saravane, Lakxao, Muangkhong and attapue. The latest information aboat flight schedules and routes is avaible at the Laos viation Head office in 2 Phangkham road, Vientiane,

Travel by Road

Laos has 18,135 km national road, 2,55km of which are paved. The most importance road is route No 13 linking, which runs north south from China to Cambodia. It links Pak Mong in north with Hlong in the south passing though major urban areas of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassack. Accept that, there are the road No.1 linked between Thailand and China, No.8 and No.9 lined between Thailand and Vietnam.

Travel by Boat

The Mekong River flows though 1,865 km of Laos. Although not navigable in its entirety, it provides a natural means of transportation over long stretches. In addition many tributary rivers of the Mekong River such as the Nam ou, Nam Ngum, Se Don, and others river are used for water transportation.

Money Exchange

The kip is the official currency of Laos. The bank note are presently in denomination of 100, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 kip.

All major currencies suck as the US Dollar, France Franc, DM, Yen, Bath and others can be exchanged at Banks that are located in all major towns. In Luang Prabang and Vientiane competitive rates are offered numerous authorized private exchange bureaus. One exchange facility is available at Wattay airport in Vientiane.

Exchange bureaus and banks will cash traveler cheques in major currencies. Furthermore, most domestic and foreign bank in Vientiane allow cash withdrawals on visa credit cards can be used in many restaurants and hotels, too. In case of journey to remote areas it is, of cause, advisable to take a good supply of kip with you.

Dos and Don’t General Advice

How respect and use your head; Eyes and common sense will guide you well in navigating Laos’s culture safely. When in Laos, try and do as the Laos do and remember: don’t touch heads, don’t lose cool with people, and don’t flash your flesh. The rest about manners: Shoes left outside, accepting host’s greeting; not upsetting religious feeling. The Laos are friendly and hospitable. A minimum of effort will make your trip smooth and memorable.

Respect the culture and will earn its respect in turn. How to “nop”? Raise your hands in a playing gesture. The higher you go, the more respect you show, but don’t be over the top!

Welcome

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”

Foot and Head

In Buddhism and general Asian society, the head is very important to the soul and is purity, while the feet walk the earth and all that posited on it. Biasing your feet to headlight, putting them on furniture or pointing with them is taken as a deliberate insult or sign of barbarism.

Don’t gesture with your feet on touch an Asian head. You be asking for trouble. Here, as in all things, check out what local people does with feet and shoes and try to follow suit.

Appearance

Bodily hygiene and cleanliness are of the highest standard in Laos and a visitor’s failure to meet these standard is nit well received. Wash your self and your clothes daily or prepare to the laughed at and avoided!

Religion

Religion is the major part of daily life and remains the practice of the massive majority.

Show respect in temples and shrines, watching how locals behave in such places. The basic rules
No shoes in temple buildings
Keep your head lower than Buddha and monks
Don’t touch the Buddha Don’t turn your back on the Buddha or touch him.

And ladies… If touch a monk, he’ll have to spend days ritually cleansing the disgrace away…

VIETNAM

Local laws and customs

You should avoid any involvement with drugs. Drug trafficking and possession carries heavy penalties, including the death penalty, which is enforced in Vietnam. Other crime, such as sex offences or fraud, can result in very long prison terms or a death sentence. The Vietnamese legal system is not well developed and the standard of prisons is very poor. The Embassy/Consulate can not get you out of prison.

When checking into a hotel, you will have to surrender your passport so that the hotel can register your presence with the local police. It is advisable to carry a photocopy of the data page from your passport, which can be used as proof of identity. If you are staying in private accommodation, you will still be expected to register. Ask your host to assist you with this as soon as you arrive. You may be charge an administrative fine for staying without registration. The level of fine is at the discretion of the Head of the Police in the area you stay.

Foreign visitors to Vietnam are generally not permitted to invite Vietnamese nationals into their hotel rooms.

There are many different types of religious buildings in Vietnam. Please respect the local customs and dress appropriately when entering any temple, church, mosque etc.

Photography of, or near, military installations is generally prohibited.

The police in Vietnam are separated into sections (crime, traffic, immigration, army police etc) but most carry firearms.

Social Conventions

Handshaking and a vocal greeting is normal. Clothing should be kept simple, informal and discreet. Avoid shorts if possible as they are usually only worn by children. Footwear should be removed when entering Buddhist pagodas. Vietnamese people should not be touched on the head.

Currency

The Vietnamese currency is Dong (VND). Banknotes in circulation are 100 Dong, 200 Dong, 500 Dong, 1,000 Dong, 2,000 Dong, 5,000 Dong, 10,000 Dong, 20,000 Dong, 50,000 Dong and 100,000 Dong recently issued by The State Bank of Vietnam. The rate of exchange is approximately 1 USD = 14,950 dong. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at the bank, exchange bureau or hotel reception desk. Travelers’ cheque and most of Credit cards are accepted in the major cities.

Local Transportation

Bus, train, taxi, cyclo, taxi-motor “Xe Om”, Xe Lam ( like Tuk Tuk in Thailand ) and car, motor & bike for rent are available in the major cities.

Emergency Call

Police: 113. Fire Brigade: 114. First Aid: 115.

Electricity

Electric current in Vietnam is 220 volts at 50 Hertz but outlets of 110 volts at 50 hertz are somewhere also available. Today, most outlets are flat pins. The rest are round pins.

Film and Photography

It is so easy to find in Vietnam popular color print film brands including Kodak, Fuji, Konica, AFGA. Western-made slide film, batteries and spare parts for cameras are also available. You can develop your roll at any Photo Processing Shop by the latest Japanese one hour color printing equipment.

One thing to keep in mind: recheck your roll store before going to visit somewhere and buy more film immediately in the street if it is not enough film for you to take photo because you will be charged by sellers at tourist spots at an extremely expensive price when buying film these.

Food

Every day, Vietnamese people eat rice by bowl and chopsticks as western people eat bread by knife, fork and dish. There is a wide range of sauces, snacks, soups, noodles, desserts and tropical fruits. Travelling to Vietnam is a good time to taste these delicious dishes. Otherwise vegetarian food, dietary dishes and western menu are also available at restaurant

Drinks

At some hotels in Vietnam, water are potable but you can not drink it from public water system in the street. There are too many kind of drinks such as: coffee, tea, mineral water, fruit juices, soft drinks, alcohol, wine, champagne and liquor… The most suitable for you while travelling is the mineral water sealed in plastic bottles (well-known marks like La vie – Vittel France…). At leisure, you can drink coffee and Vietnamese green tea or coconut milk, coca-cola, Pepsi. If you like alcoholic drinks, you should taste local beer 333 and Hanoi Beer or local alcohols made from rice. Otherwise if you are curious or adventurous to try a little bit of snake wine or the like. It said to be more powerful for men. Frozen drinks usually are better than drinks with ice.

Accommodation

In the whole country, there are enough kind of accommodation for your choice from dormitories, camping, guest houses, mini-hotels to luxurious hotels. On the other hand, a system of houses, apartments and residences for rent are also available. If you want to be more independent and come back to the nature, camping in jungle is at your disposition or you want to discover the local life, you can share and pass the night at a house of local inhabitant in some remote areas.