Laos – Relaxing in the Heart of Asia

Andrew Leeson


Laos SE Asia

Friendly, relaxing, laid back and always welcoming, Laos is another Asian country with a fast developing tourism sector. From barely 80,000 international visitors in 1990, the only land locked country in South East Asia now receives in excess of 2 million overseas visitors each year.

Sharing borders with China to the North, Myanmar to the Northwest, Thailand to the West, Cambodia to the South and Vietnam to the East, Laos really is in the heart of Asia. And through it for 1,900 kms runs the mighty Mekong River, shaping the lives of the country’s 6.9 million people. 

Laos Golden Buddha


For short term visitors a ‘Visa on Arrival’ is the best alternative. It’s valid for 30 days and costs US$35.00. For those contemplating a longer stay, Indonesia has a retirement visa, which is available to suitable candidates who are 55 years of age and over. For more information please refer to the Indonesian Visa section of our website

What is there to see and do?

Vientiane is the capital of Laos, and home to wonderful examples of Buddhist culture, French Colonial architecture, excellent gastronomy and a range of attractions, such as the National icon known as Pha That Luang (The Great Sacred Stupa), which dates back to 1566. The capital is located on a curve in the Mekong river, is home to 750,000 people and has a history dating back to 1,000AD.Buddha Laos

Luang Prabang in the centre of Northern Laos is regarded as one of the most charming and best preserved towns in all of South East Asia. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment.

The Wat Phou Temple complex and surrounding Champasack Heritage landscape are located around 500kms south of Vientiane, and captivate tourists with their beauty and religious importance. Backpackers have been coming to Laos for decades and their early discovery of the wonders to be found in Muang Ngoi Neua and Vang Vieng are now been enjoyed by a broader mix of international admirers.

Getting there

There are four international airports in Laos, where you can get a Visa on Arrival, however most travellers arrive through Wattay International Airport in Vientiane. The capital has regular connections from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Phnom Penh. Aside from flying, it’s also possible to enter by boat from Thailand at Houai Xay, or over land at 15 locations, with the most popular being the World renowned ‘Friendship Bridge’ that crosses the Mekong and connects Laos with Thailand.


Visas can be obtained from Lao Embassies and Consulates abroad, but the vast majority of visitors acquire them upon arrival. Validity starts from the day of entry and is for 30 days (which can be extended twice in Vientiane for another 30 days). The cost for Australian passport holders is US$30 (which can be paid in either US$ or Thai Baht). You’ll also need one passport sized photo. There is no Retirement Visa available in Laos at this time.

Money Matters

One Australian Dollar is worth around 6,000 Lao Kip. There are 3 currencies widely accepted in Laos, the Kip, US$ (in small denominations) and the Thai Baht (notes only). Note: Make sure you exchange any Kip you have before leaving, its not usable anywhere else. There are ATM’s in main urban areas, and credit cards are accepted (although not universally).

On your doorstep

Whilst is not generally regarded as a retirement destination, Laos is another wonderful example of the delights on offer to those retirees or long stay visitors who call Asia home.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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