We spent a week in Vientiane exploring the city and preparing for the rest of our time in Laos. Not too many stories to tell here. The highlights of our stay were crossing the border, extending our VISA, and discovering the French influence unique to this area.
We cross the border with no issues. I heard stories of 3 hour waits and observed another couple being turned away at the border. Our experience was very easy and quick. Virtually no delays and no difficulty. We were bused across the border and then after paying 35$ for me and 30$ for Michel entered the country with a 30 day stamp.
Once settled in we ran into one of the French gentlemen we had met on our trip from Bangkok to Chang Mai. We spent an evening with him and another man from Greece talking politics and eating good Vietnamese food.
There are stands everywhere in town where you can stop to get a delicious fruit smoothie. In the evening stroll with all of the locals on the boardwalk next to the Mekong. No problem finding a French speaking Laotian or a tasty baguette traditional here. We enjoyed Cafe au lait and croissant in the mornings too. The French colonization of years ago has made a permanent mark.
Tourism is increasing in Laos and opportunities for business as well. I read information about a program for foreigners to open businesses here with 10 years tax free and 8 percent tax after that. Watch out Laos is growing!
We rode bikes to locals temples and in town to run our errands which included extending our VISA another 30 days. A remarkably easy process. We went to immigration, filled out a quick form, paid 63 dollars for me and 3 dollars for Michel (over 65), returned the next day and picked up our passports. There were people in immigration who helped us with each step. Wish things were going that easily getting Michel’s two year okay to be out of the US from our own immigration….heavy sigh
A quiet peaceful time as we prepare to move north to Vang Vieng and beyond.
Categories: Laos travel
Beautiful pictures. Some interesting info from Wikepedia as I read about Laos and I am sure you must already know …. A third (33%) of the country’s population lives below the international poverty line which means living on less than U.S. $1.25 per day. Wow. No wonder they want to cater to tourists as a few dollars dropped their way can make a big difference. Laos is a single-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism and is governed by a single party communist politburo dominated by military generals. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army continue to have significant influence in Laos. Interesting History of the country too including the killing of 25% of population if I read correctly (100.000 out of 400,000) by the communist forces as the fought/took control. Wow. But then that is usually what happens when socialist/communist forces try to take power as they have to remove those who may think differently or oppose them in order to gain and retain power. The history of french rule, and the US bombs is explained too as the US sought to free the people from the communist forces invading (too bad we left a mess behind though but we were trying to help them)…. I will share more info on that in your last post mentioning that. How interesting the history and culture is. They were allowed to join the WTO (World Trade Organization) just this year in 2013 and export mostly power to their neighbors and metals. Have a great time! Love you! Kathy
Hey great research on your part. The influence of communism is still very evident in Loas. There are still many business here that are under government control. Many of the kids here carry a school bag with the red star and a picture of Chez Gavarra. I had one person warn me in a conversation to be careful what I said as you never know who is listening.
However, to your point, things are starting to open up and I believe a better economy will develop here in future years as tourism and globalization begin to dominate.
Most interesting! Yes, I would imagine tourism would be a big income generator for the region.
One more thought here. Although I have commented that globalization will eventually rule the day, it will not necessarily be the US. We spoke to several expat locals who say that attempts by US interest to expand into Laos are mostly blocked by the Laos government (or perhaps our own…not sure). Unlike Thailand there are no Burger Kings, or Starbucks here. The US capitalist doctrine is not widely accepted here.
Business opportunity for local versions of those businesses? LaosBucks and LaosKing? 🙂
“Wish things were going that easily getting Michel’s two year okay to be out of the US from our own immigration….heavy sigh”
Likely matched my sigh. Have to go to Atlanta to renew Monica’s passport. Must have proper fingerprints ya know. I guess no one in Florida knows how to finger print. Not that they’re not in their already system as she gets finger printed every time we enter the country. Sigh.