Information & Facts
The tropical monsoon climate in Luang Prabang is characterised
by two seasons, with wet weather from June to October and hotter,
dry weather from November to May. Temperatures in the rainy season
average at about 79°F (26°C), and in the dry season they reach an
average of around 86°F (30°C).
Lao is the official language, but some English and French
The Lao Kip (LAK) is the legal currency unit, currently
available in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and
50,000 kip. US Dollars, Euros and Thai Baht are also accepted in
many places and are more convenient to carry than large stacks of
the local currency. Banks, hotels, and jewellery shops all offer
currency exchange services. For everyday expenses, carry a mix of
US dollars and kip. For larger items, or when the exchange rate
works in your favour, use US dollars. For local transport, street
food stalls and minor purchases, it is best to use kip. When in
rural areas, ensure you carry a supply of small notes as change can
be hard to come by. Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard
are accepted at most international hotels, many shops and
restaurants, and a few tourist-orientated establishments in Luang
Prabang and Vientiane - but in other parts of the country assume
that only cash is accepted. Travellers cheques can be cashed at
most banks in Vientiane and other major towns. Banks are open
Monday to Friday from 8am to 12pm, and then again from 2pm to 3pm.
In Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and other major towns, ATMs are
available from which money can be withdrawn. Note that ATMs
distribute only Lao kip, with a maximum of around 1,000,000 kip per
Shopping in Luang Prabang is a wonderfully rewarding pastime.
Don't miss the fresh produce market near the Mekong in Ban Pakam.
It's an authentic slice of Laotian life, and best visited in the
early morning. The night market opens at dusk each day in the
centre of town near Wat Mai. Check out the Baan Killy gallery for
high-quality Lao paper crafts, housed in a building that is itself
a work of art. Good places to buy quality fabrics are CAMACrafts
and Mulberries above Joma bakery, and Erawan Arts which sells
exceptional handicrafts from its magnificent 100-year-old premises.
The best Laos souvenirs are cotton fabrics, embroidery, carvings
and jewellery. Bargaining is expected. Don't be tempted to buy
relics as it is illegal to trade in antiquities.