Thailand & Laos


The main international airports with service to Chiang Mai are Hong Kong (HKG), Beijing (PEK),
Seoul (ICN) and Bangkok (BKK).

You will be departing out of Luang Prabang (LPQ)- departures/. The largest international airport servicing Luang Prabang (LPQ) is Bangkok (BKK).

When researching how to get to a destination you can go directly to the airport’s website to see where flights are arriving from and the airlines servicing the airport ( Then check to view the best routes from your departure city. We also recommend using Google Flights to compare different airlines and their prices/routes. ALWAYS book your flights direct on an airline’s website, don’t use third-party sites. You don’t want to have an issue when traveling and have to rely on calling a third-party for assistance. Airlines will not speak with you directly about third-party bookings.


The currency in Thailand is the baht. ATMs can be found just about everywhere in Thailand, and most accept foreign cards. Look for the Cirrus or Visa symbol. They’re the easiest way to exchange money and receive the best rate. ATMs in Thailand will return your card after the transaction so be sure to take you money and wait for your card to be returned before you walk away or else the machine will eat your card!

In Laos, the currency is the Lao Kip. ATMs are also readily available but there is a low maximum transaction and high transaction fees. US dollars are accepted in many places and easy to exchange at banks or exchange kiosks.

Check here for current exchange rates –


Thailand- A passport with at least 6 months of validity from the date of entry and 1 blank page. There are no visas required for stays of less than 30 days. Laos- A passport with at least 6 months of validity from the date of entry and 2 blank pages. Visas will be obtained at the border crossing with assistance from the guide.


In Thailand, types C and O are the official standards. American type A & B plugs can also be used, but their compatibility is going to be phased out in the long term.

In Laos the power plug sockets are of type A, B, C, E and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Click here to purchase a universal adapter/converter.


Plan to tip the guide $100 which will be collected before the end of the trip and presented from the group. Also bring small bills to tip for massages, taxis, cafes, etc.


In Chaing Mai, the average January high/low temperatures are 85°/ 57°. In Luang Prabang, the average January high/low temperatures are 82° / 57°. In general, the daytime is warm while the evening and night are cool. You can walk around in shorts and a shirt in the daytime, but a sweater or jacket will be needed after sunset. The highlands will be cooler so plan to bring a pair of jeans/pants/tights and sweater/jacket/sweatshirt. There are lots of markets where you can buy clothing so don’t overpack.


For an extended stay in Luang Prabang, contact the hotel directly.


Dining in Thailand is a culinary adventure and one of the most memorable experiences of any visit to the country. Thailand has often been described as having a food culture, a statement that implies that food is more than simply sustenance but the center of almost every aspect of social life. Indeed, one only needs to wander around any town to realize just how true that statement is. The availability of food and the mind-boggling range of dishes make Thailand one of the most exciting places in the world to dine. Rice is the staple of Thailand; a grain that has shaped the landscape and defined the culture. Served at every meal, the preferred choice is jasmine rice, also known as fragrant rice because of its aroma. In the north and northeast, sticky rice, a glutinous rice that is molded into a ball with the fingers, is the most popular. Sticky rice also features in a number of desserts. Many sweets in Thailand are made using rice flour Thai cuisine is composed of dishes from its four distinct regions: the central plains, the north, the northeast and the south. The unifying factor is the way each skillfully combines the elements of spicy, sour, sweet and salty. Key ingredients include the ubiquitous chili. Thais are addicted to this fiery pepper, the most lethal being the prik kee noo or “mouse poo” pepper. Fresh or dried and ground, the chili is used to add fire to almost every main dish. Lime juice and tamarind provide the sour taste, while sweetness is provided by palm sugar. The salty taste is added by fish sauce, known as nam pla, literally “fish water.” Made by aprocess of prolonged salting and fermentation, fish sauce is essential in almost all dishes and is also sprinkled over food when extra saltiness is required. Classic “must try” dishes include somtam, made with papayas and vegetables; gai yang, or grilled chicken; tom yam, a deeply satisfying soup with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves; tom yam laced with fresh prawns or chicken; khao mok gai, steamed yellow byriani rice with chicken; and pad thai. The bar drink of choice is Mekong whiskey—it’s half as potent as Western whiskey, and you’ll likely see more than one bottle on a table. The local beer is Singha. Thailand is a paradise for tropical fruits. Definitely try rambutan, a reddish lychee with softspines on the outside that tastes like a sweet plum; mangoes; mangosteens; guava;papaya; pomelo; and if you are adventurous, try the infamous durian fruit (it’s so pungent thatit’s illegal to take into some hotels). Laotian dishes are very similar to Thailand and Vietnam in terms of flavor and ingredients, which often consist of fresh herb, spices, noodles, and rice. Khao niaw (sticky rice) is a staple food among the Laotians. Traditionally steamed in a cone-shaped bamboo basket, the rice is then placed in a covered basket, where it is eaten by hand alongside spicy soup, and meatbased dishes. Be sure to try these tasty Lao dishes. Larb or laap is widely considered as Laos ’national dish – this meat-based salad is flavored with mint leaves, chili, fish sauce, and lime juice, giving it a zesty flavor. Most restaurants use pork or chicken to make larb, but you can also enjoy it with minced beef, duck, or fish. Khao poon is a type of comfort food in Laos, consisting of rice vermicelli noodles in a spicy soup. The long-simmered soup is made of pounded meat (chicken, fish, or pork), fish sauce, garlic, shallots, chillies, lime leaves, galangal, and perilla leaves.


The easiest and most fun way to get around in cities is by tuk tuk. Be sure to agree on a price before you get in! As always when traveling, be aware of your surroundings, don’t travel with expensive gear and jewelry that are unnecessary, and consider enrolling your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate


Thailand  Thailand offers something for everyone. The capital, Bangkok, is alive with commerce and street-bustle nearly every hour of the day and night. One reason Thailand is among the most visited countries in Asia is because of its accessibility and extensive tourism infrastructure. Thailand has fabulous architecture, diverse hill-tribe villages, ancient ruins, beautiful islands, excellent shopping and all the amenities as well. The balance between comfort and excitement is up to you: stay at a five-star hotel or trek through the jungles; eat at gourmet buffets or buy fruit from local vendors; shop in glitzy malls or wander through outdoor markets. Thailand offers a curious mix of the ultramodern and the simply delightful. The first true Thai kingdom was established in AD 1238, though the region had been settled since 3600 BC. The ensuing two centuries are known as the Sukhothai period, a kind of Golden Age when Thais made great contributions to writing and Theravada Buddhism and generally expanded the empire. Though it was occasionally dominated for periods by its Southeast Asian neighbors, Thailand (or Siam, as it was called then) was the only country in the region not colonized by Europeans. The ruins of Sukhothai and other ancient Thai kingdoms are well-preserved today. The remains of these great cities date from vastly different time periods, and each is unique. A visit to at least one is well worth it. Modern Thai history begins with the revolution of 1932, which shifted power from the king to a coalition of military and elected officials. In 1939, the official name changed from Siam to Thailand, meaning “land of the free.” Despite its loss of power, however, the monarchy continues to exert enormous influence on Thai people. The center of Thailand consists of flat plains no more than a few feet/meters above sea level, watered by the Chao Phraya River and a number of smaller rivers and canals. There are mountains in the north stretching southward along the border with Myanmar, high plains in the east, and mountains and jungle covering the peninsula Thailand shares with Malaysia.
Laos The Lao originated in southern China and moved southward into present-day Laos, forming a kingdom in the Mekong River valley in the fourteenth century and pushing the earlier inhabitants of the area, the Kammu, into more mountainous areas. After three centuries, however, disputes over succession to the throne and foreign invasions split the country into three rival kingdoms in the north, center, and south. Caught between the growing power of the Siamese and the Vietnamese, the Lao lost power and territory so that today most Lao people live in Thailand (formerly Siam). Laos was colonized by the French in the 1890s and treated as the hinterland to their colonies in Vietnam. Laos was unified after World War II and achieved independence within the French Union in 1949 and full independence in 1953. However, regional divisions were replaced by political ones. The Lao were divided into three factions: a right-wing group backed by the United States; a neutralist group in Thailand; and a communist group backed by Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and China. After a devastating civil war fought with heavy American bombing on behalf of the right, and with Vietnamese troops on behalf of the left, the communist Pathet Lao (Lao Nation) took control of the country in 1975, abolished the monarchy, and established the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR). In the political, economic, and social upheavals that followed, about 10 percent of the population fled as refugees, draining the country of skilled and educated people. Although the aging Lao leadership maintains one-party control and continues to assert communist ideology, it has loosened social and economic controls and now invites foreign investment and tourism. Laos is a landlocked country located in Southeast Asia bordered by Burma, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested, and the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand.