1 - Don't let the staff at the GPO put stamps on for you. Put the stamps on yourself, check the amounts, watch them be canceled. When I neglected this, then insisted on getting my letters back to check, she charged more than what she'd stuck on.
2 - ATM's charge fees but they don't all warn about it, eg bcel. Best value is ANZ, as it charges a standard 20,000 flat fee, but has a higher withdrawal limit.
3 - If you're going to the Thai embassy, don't forget ID pictures and two Xerox, one of the photo page of your passport and one of your current Laos visa. There's a Xerox in the Thai embassy, with the powerlead mysteriously missing and little booths just outside just waiting to rip you off!
4. it is possible to get a visa of Vietnam in Vientiane at the Vietnamese Embassy, the price is 45 USD, however, you can bargain to 35 USD.
They say it takes longer if you pay $35 instead of $45, but it is ready when you stop by a couple of days later. however, you are advised to get a visa at Vietnam embassy in UK www.vietnamembassy.org.uk before you go.
5. While in the Vietnamese Embassy area, you can look at their Arc di Triomphe: www.travelblog.org/Photos/1744610 and on to the temple complex area a few thousand feet up that road.
This is a community website run by some locals and expats. I discovered it while in Vientiane and think it's probably the best online guide to Vientiane that there is. As its run by locals, the what's on guide is very up-to-date and it shows a lot of things that only locals know about - i.e., stuff not in the Lonely Planet.
Viengchampa is a tour operator based in Vientiane with links all over the country. They organised a trip I took in southern Laos in September 2008 very efficiently. I only had a few days to spare and wanted to get a reasonable overview of the southern provinces without the hassle of organising it myself and Viengchampa were great. They use local guides who really know the area and all of them spoke good English and were very competent. Everything happened pretty much when they said it would and they were flexible enough to allow stops whenever a place looked interesting. Highly recommended.
It's a small, boutique style hotel right on the Mekong. The rooms are invididually decorated - very individual in some cases, with the bath/shower right in the bedroom. It has tea and coffee and a fridge, the rooms are spacious, and it's all very comfortable, with free wifi access. It's just a short walk from the centre of town and from lots of riverside cafes.
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