The official language of Laos is Lao. It is spoken in all parts of the country. The Vientiane dialect is very common and understood throughout the country. However, the usage of the language can differ from north and south. In spit of the colonial past, French remains the second official language. Today, English, French and Russian Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese are in common use among business sectors and young generations or by some senior government officials. Many shopkeepers can understand basic English and French.
Fresh negative film is widely available. Popular brands are Kodak, Fuji, Agfa and Konica. Positive color print film is only obtainable in Vientiane. Observe normal courtesy when photographing people, especially monks. Avoid taking photographs at airports and military locations.
Video tapes and camera film can be found in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, but specialist products are often hard to come by. We advise you to bring plenty of film and video tape.
Bottled water and mineral water are obtainable at any shops in most cities. It is advisable to drink boiled water and not to drink ice and tap water. The most reliable local brand is LA VIE (Don't confuse them with the imitations such as La Ville or La Vierge). Aquafina of Pepsi and real Evian also available at many shops.