You can enter Laos either via their four international airports (Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Pakse) or via one of 14 land crossings from Cambodia (1), China (1), Thailand (7) and Vietnam (7) that are available for tourists and offer VOA. A list of all border crossings can be found here.
One little advise – flying into Laos is not always cheap. If travelling to Vientiane, Thakhek, Savanakhet and Pakse an alternative could be to fly with one of the low cost carries (Air Asia, Nok Air or even Thai Airways) to the Thai cities of Nong Khai, Nakon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon or Ubon Rathchathani and then use the land borders. It can help saving some money.
Laos offers Visa-on-arrival (VOA) on all borders (overland and airports) for 30 days. It is recommended to pay the Visa fee in US$, it will cost more using any other currency. The fee depends on Nationality. Here are some of the fees (correct as of end of 2014). There I also and additional $1 fee for weekends and evenings. Some border crossings have a sign indicating the fee. Please note that there is NO exit fee when leaving Laos
The passport needs to be valid for 6 month. For the Visa you need one passport photo. If you don’t have one, you can pay $1 and they photocopy the photo from the passport.
The currency is Kip. The usual exchange rate is $1 – 8.000 Kip. You could pay in Thai Baht and US$, but it will be more expensive. Besides, you are in another country you should use the local currency. You wouldn’t use your own currency when travelling to the US or Europe….
You can easily exchange money at Exchange booth in the touristy places (including at the border crossings). US$, Aus$ and € are accept in all places. I had only once issues to exchange £ (don’t even try to use Scottish notes). When using one of the Exchange booth double check the Kip notes given, as there are some scam attempt. If you get many smaller denominations it is warning sign – count the money in front of them. You can also use banks to exchange money. ATMs are widely available throughout Laos.
Healthcare in Laos has not Western standard. The best facilities are in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, but for urgent medical treatment you might need to get to Thailand. Therefore it is important to have good travel insurance in place. When heading into the rural area there is high risk of Malaria and Dengue Fever. Therefore it is important to use mosquito repellent, or wear long sleeve shirts, and ensure that your room has mosquito net if there is no A/C in the room. Remember that mosquitos carrying dengue fever are day – active, so repellent is needed during the day as well.
Laos is a great place for those travelling with a tight budget. In general Luang Prabang and Vientiane will be more expensive than the non-touristy places. For a clean double bedroom with own bathroom you can pay from 50.000 Kip upwards (LP and Vientiane from 80.000 Kip) – sharing a private room can be as cheap as a bed in a hostel. Prices for food can be as low and as high as you want. If you prefer eating in local places you can have a nice dish from 20.000 Kip, while heading to a restaurant in Luang Prabang or Vientiane can be much higher. The lovely Beer Lao will be between 8.000 and 15.000 Kip per bottle. So you could be able to travel through Laos from as low as 200.000 Kip per day. For a flash packer 350.000 – 400.000 Kip per day s a good budget.