Laos - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordered by Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand has a total land area of 91,429 square miles and a population of over 6.3 Million. Its rugged mountainous terrain is thickly forested with a few plains and plateaus. Subsistence agriculture is still the major source of employment. The country, rich in mineral resources, receives investment aid from various international sources for developing its immense coal, gold and copper deposits. Tourism, metallurgy and hydroelectric power are the main sectors of its economy.

Travel Resources: 

Laos is best visited during October and March with December through February being the peak season. The tag-line for tourism is ‘Simply Beautiful’ – amply justified by its beautiful terrain and its Buddhist zen for relaxed style of living. Luang Prabang, Wat Phu, Vientiane, the Plain of Jars region, Muang Ngoi Neua, and the Four Thousand Islands are major tourist attractions.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Laos978-1741791532$1760 maps. A travelers introduction covering about 80 pages followed by region-wise coverage on Vientiane and Around, Northen Laos, Central Laos, and Southern Laos.
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia Travel Map by Globetrotter978-1847733559$9Includes detailed street plans of major towns and large scale projections of tourist attractions.
Laos Grounded Adapter Plug Kit – GUA and GUBB001FD5B64$15


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Laos were a long set of seventeen stamps released in 1951 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #1 to #17) catalogs for around $30 MNH and $12 used. The designs show boat on Mekong River, King Sisavang-Vong, Laotian woman, Luang Prabang, and Temple at Vientiane. Sisavang Phoulivong was King of Laos from 1904 until his death in 1959. As a supporter of French rule in Laos, he was deposed when Lao Issara declared independence in 1945. He was reinstated as King when the French took over in 1946. Vientiane is the capital and largest city. Luang Prabang is another major city in the Northeast located at the meeting point of Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers.

Other issues of Laos enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of five stamps released on May 24, 1956 to mark the 2500th anniversary of the birth of Buddha. The set (Scott #27 to #29 and C20 to C21) is sought after and catalogs for around $60 MNH and $50 used. The design shows Buddha Statue and monks. Theravada Buddhism is the primary religion in Laos and is an important social force bringing together the people of Laos. Missionary work is regulated by the government. The Christian population (1.5%) is pretty much restricted to the capital area and there is a small population of Muslims in the Myanmar border area.
  2. A set of three stamps released on June 26, 1993 in the Campaign against Illegal Drugs theme. The set (Scott #1127 to #1129) catalogs for around $5 MNH and used. The designs show drugs and skull smoking cigarette, burning confiscated drugs, and instructor showing danger of drugs to audience. The illicit opium poppy growing region of “Golden Triangle” is partly in Laos. The other countries are Burma, Vietnam, and Thailand. Another set in the same theme was released on June 26, 2000. That set (Scott #1481 to #1482) is also inexpensive and catalogs for around a dollar MNH or used.
  3. A set of six stamps and a souvenir sheet released in 1997 in the Elephants theme. The set (Scott #1329 to #1334 and #1335) catalogs for around $12 MNH and around the same for used. The designs show Asian adult elephant, adult holding log, adult and calf, African Bush adult elephant, adult in water, adult, and head of adult. Laos was ruled by the Kingdom of Lan Xang from the 14th to the 18th Century. Lan Xang means the Land of a Million Elephants.
  4. A set of fifteen stamps released on March 8, 2000 in the Women’s Costumes theme. The set (Scott #1455 to #1469) catalogs for around $16 MNH and used. The designs show Kor Loma, Kor Pchor, Nhuan Krom, Taidam, Yao, Meuy, Sila, Hmong, Kor Nukkuy, Kor Pouxang, Yao Lanten, Khir, and Kor. A few other sets depicting costumes were released over the years and they are all valued at a slightly premium over regular issues from the respective periods.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Laos were Aluminum Cents issued in 1952 showing Hole in Center of Head in Obverse and Hold in Center of Flower with Date in Reverse. The issue has high mintage (2M) and catalogs for around $3 in BU. The first gold coin was a proof released for King Savang Vatthana’s Coronation issued in 1971. The design shows Head within Circle in Obverse and Radiant Sun above Statue dividing Elephant heads with lamps flanking in Reverse. The issue (4000 Kip, 0.1157 troy ounces) has low mintage (10K) and catalogs for a premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of Laos include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNCs start around $1. UNC Year Sets start around $10. Silver Proof Sets start around $30. Gold Proofs and low mintage silver proofs go into the 100s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs starts around $1. Recent Year Sets start around $10. Bundles start around $25. High Value Bundles, Replacement Notes, etc start around $40. Scarce Specimen Sets, Unopened 1000-piece bricks, Early Bundles etc go into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Silk, handicrafts, art, statues, tea, and coffee are souvenirs of the region.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$10 and up19th century local scenes prints start around $10. Historical Monument prints from 19th century start around $30. Cuban political posters and original vintage paintings start around $50 and go well into the 100s.
Antiques$10 and upVintage Golden Triangle Bronze Bells start around $10. Authentic Buddha statues, Pha Biang Shawls etc start around $100.
Militaria$5 and upVietnam war pins and patches start around $5. Commando and other badges start around $40. Order of merit badges and medals start around $100.


Last Updated: 12/2015.

Kyrgyzstan - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked country in Central Asia bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China has a total land area of 77,181 square miles and a population of over 5.4 million. Though Kyrgyzstan is currently among the poorest countries of Central Asia, it is rich in mineral resources such as coal, gold, uranium etc. The export sectors are hydroelectric power and livestock rearing resulting in wool, meat and dairy products. Agriculture, though primitive in approach is also a major sector of the economy. The government is working to lift the country’s lot by attracting foreign investment to its metallurgy and agriculture industries.

Travel Resources:

May through October is the best time to visit this country. Such is its natural beauty that it qualifies as the top attraction of the land – the mountains, the lakes and the valleys paint pictures no canvas can truly capture. Museums, hot springs, forests, mountains are all on offer here. Golden Spa, Dialal Abad, Arslanbob, Lenin Peak and Tash Rabat are well-visited places. Kyrgyzstan cuisine is very varied and is mostly mutton and horse meat based. Food tends to be high in fat content, but extremely tasty fresh from the grill. Lagman (noodles), Manty (dumplings), Paloo (rice pilaf), Shorpa (soup) and Nan (flat-bread) are everyday dishes.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Kyrgyzstan Bradt Travel Guide978-1841622217$18Practical travel information followed by region-wise coverage on Bishkek, Chui Province, Lake Issyk-Kul – North Shore, Lake Issyk-Kul South and the Central Tien Shan, Talas Province, Naryn Province, Jalal-Abad Province, and Southern Kyrgyzstan.
Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan Travel Map by International Travel Maps978-1553412854$13
Kyrgyzstan Grounded Adapter Plug – GUBB001FDA5K6$8


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamp of Kyrgyzstan was released on February 4, 1992 showing the Sary-Chelek Nature Preserve. The stamp (Scott #1) is inexpensive and catalogs for a few cents. As the country has only released about 300 stamps in its 18-year history, it is relatively easy to acquire a complete collection. Most of the stamps are inexpensive as well. The country became independent following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Sary-Chelek Nature Preserve is a designated World Biosphere reserve by UNESCO located in the Jalal-Abad Province. A set of seven stamps along with a souvenir sheet showing Sites and Landmarks was also released in 1993. The set (Scott #5 to #11 and #12) catalogs for around $3 MNH or used. The designs show petroglyphs, 11th century Tower, Mausoleum, Yurt, Statue of Manas of Pishpek (Bishkek), Commercial Complex in Pishpek, and Native Jewelry. Epic of Manas is an epic poem of the Kyrgyz people. Manas is the epic’s hero. The poem has close to 500,000 lines and is regarded as the centerpiece of Kyrgyz literature.

Other issues of Kyrgyzstan enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of six stamps and a souvenir sheet released on December 1, 1994 in the Minerals theme. The set (Scott #41 to #46 and #47) catalogs for around $6 MNH or used. There is also a miniature sheet of 6 (#47a) that catalogs in the same range. The designs show fluorite-cinnabar, calcite, getchellite, barite, orpiment, and stibnite. Kyrgyzstan is rich in mineral resources with significant reserves of coal, gold, uranium, etc.
  2. A set of seven stamps and a souvenir sheet released on October 16, 1995 in the Horses theme. The set (Scott #72 to #78 and #79) catalogs for around $5 MNH or used. Horse riding is the traditional national sport of Kyrgyzstan. Several games including the Ulak Tartysh team game are popular in Kyrgyzstan.
  3. A set of three stamps, a souvenir sheet, and a label released on July 7, 2001 depicting Mountains. The set (Scott #160 to #162, and #163a-c and label) catalogs for around $5 MNH or used. The designs show Mountains along with horses crossing stream, grazing animals, and valley. Over 80% of the country is mountainous covered by the Tian Shan mountain range earning it the nickname “Switzerland of Central Asia”. Skiing is yet to be developed although skiing is possible for tourists at the base of Toguz Bulak and in the Karakol Valley National Park. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Kyrgyzstan were Silver Som Proofs issued in 1995 in the Millenium of Manas theme showing Arms within Circle and Date flanked by Sprigs in Obverse and Armored Equestrian above Mountains and denomination in Reverse. The issue has low mintage (20K) and catalogs for around $50. The first gold coin (0.2 troy ounces) was issued soon after in the same design. That issue has very low mintage (5K) and catalogs for a premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of Kyrgyzstan include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$10 and upRecent UNC year sets start around $10. Silk Road Proof Sets start around $50. Low mintage silver color proofs go into the 100s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs start around $1. First Issue Sets of 1993 in UNC start around $10. Bundles start around $25. Uncut sheets and other rare issues start around $50.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Visitors are attracted to dolls in traditional costumes, pottery, embroidery, leather, woodwork and kymyz (an alcoholic drink made by fermenting mare’s milk).


Last Updated: 12/2015.

Kuwait - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Kuwait, a country in the Northeast of the Arabian Peninsula bordered by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Persian Gulf has a total land area of 6880 square miles and a population of over 3.56 million. Kuwait is classified as a high-income economy thanks to its immense oil wealth. Kuwait’s foreign policy of constructive cooperation and non-intervention has made it a staunch ally of the US. Other major industries are shipping, financial services, construction and water desalination. The government is keen on altering its oil-heavy image to that of a trading and tourism hub. Before striking it rich with oil, pearling was the major contributor to the economy, which was key to developing marine trade routes and thus ‘dhows’ (wooden boats made from teak) came to be.

Travel Resources:

The best time to visit Kuwait is from November to April for then the nights are cooler. The major attractions of the place are the Kuwait Towers, Liberation Tower, Kuwait Mosques, Sadu House, National Museum, Bayt Al-Badr, and the Zoological Park. Other than seafood, Kuwait heavily depends on food imports. Kuwaiti cuisine is an amalgam of  Arabian, European and South Asian cuisines.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar978-1864501322$20Twelve maps including a full-color regional map. Political, Historical, and Cultural Introduction along with accommodation & restaurant options and helpful advice to get around.
Kuwait and Kuwait City Map by International Travel Maps978-1553412816$131:390,000 scale. Kuwait City Inset Map at 1:15,000 scale.
Kuwait Adapter Plug B, D, and GUFB001FDC7BQ$16


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Kuwait were a set of fifteen stamps released between 1923 and 1924 and were ‘Kuwait’ overprints on Indian issues showing King George V (KGV). The set (Scott #1 to #15) catalogs for around $350 mint and around $900 used. After World War I, Kuwait became an independent Sheikdom under the protectorate of the British Empire. The Gulf Rupee issued by the Reserve Bank of India was the currency in Kuwait at the time. Three other sets of Indian KGV sets were issued during the period till 1945. The sets (Scott #17 to #35, #45 to #57, and #59 to #71) are valuable fetching well into the hundreds.

British Postal Administration issues with ‘Kuwait’ and denomination overprints formed the stamp issues of Kuwait until 1959. Some of these sets are reasonably valuable while others can be had for a few dollars. The most valuable set during this period were a set of three stamps released between 1950 and 1951 which were overprints on Great Britain Issues (Scott #286 to #288). The set (Scott #93 to #101) catalogs for around $80 MNH and $30 used.

Other issues of Kuwait enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of thirteen stamps released on February 1, 1959 in the local scenes theme. The set (Scott #140 to #152) catalogs for around $30 MNH and $8 used. This set was the first original issues of Kuwait. The designs show pipe lines, Main Square in Kuwait, dhow, derrick, and Sheik, mosque and Sheik, and oil plant at Burgan and Sheik. Kuwait’s oil resources were discovered in the late 1930s. Kuwait has over 100 Billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves which is about 10% of the world’s reserves. Before oil discovery, the country was relatively poor with limited resources – pearl farming formed the major industry. Today, the oil revenue has made it the fifth richest country in the world.
  2. A long set of nineteen stamps released on February 1, 1964 showing a portrait of Sheik Abdullah. The set (Scott #225 to #243) catalogs for around $50 MNH and $10 used. Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah was the last Sheikh and the first Emiro of Kuwait. After attaining independence from the British on June 19, 1961, he introduced the Constitution of Kuwait in 1962 and the Parliament in 1963. Soon after, he declared himself as Emir and head of state. He died following a heart attack in 1965. A few other sets portraying the Sheik’s of Kuwait were issued over the years and the sets are relatively highly valued.
  3. A long set of eight blocks of four stamps released on December 1, 1973 in the Birds theme. The set (Scott #583 to #590) catalogs for around $120 MNH or used. The designs show mourning dove, Eurasian hoopoe, rock dove, stone curlew, great gray shrike, red-backed shrike, rufous-backed shrike, blacked-naped oriole, willow warbler, great reed warbler, blackcap, barn swallow, rock thrush, European redstart, wheatear, bluethroat, Houbara bustard, pin-tailed sandgrouse, ypecaha wood rail, spotted crake, American sparrow hawk, great black-backed gull, purple heron, wryneck, European bee-eater, goshawk, gray wagtail, pied wagtail, crossbows, tent-shaped net, hand net, and rooftop trap.
  4. A long sheet of forty two stamps and a souvenir sheet released on July 25, 1991 to mark the Liberation of Kuwait. The set (Scott #1150a-ap and #1151) catalogs for around $70 MNH or used. The designs show the flags of the forces who joined the international coalition against Iraq for the liberation of Kuwait: Sweden, USSR, USA, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UN, Singapore, France, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, UK, Philippines, UAE, Syria, Poland, Australia, Japan, Hungary, Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Bahrain, Honduras, Turkey, Greece, Oman, Qatar, Belgium, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Norway, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Senegal, Spain, Niger, Pakistan, and all forces of coalition.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Kuwait were Copper Baizas issued during the Al Sabah Dynasty in 1886 showing Abdallah Ibn Sabah and Date in Obverse. The issue is very rare. In the modern era, Kuwait started issuing coins in 1961 with the issue of Nickel-Brass Fils showing Value within Circle in Obverse and Ship with Sails in Reverse. The issue has high mintage (2M) and catalogs for less than two dollars in UNC. The proof version has very low mintage (60) and catalogs for around $30. Kuwait started issuing commemorative gold coins in 1981 denominated in Dinars.

Numismatic items of Kuwait include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upCommon UNC Fils start around $2. Recent UNC Year Sets start around $10. Commemorative Silver Proofs start around $50. Solid Silver Proof Sets and Gold Plated 100 piece sets go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$3 and upCommon UNCs starts around $3. Shaikh Sabah issues of the 1960s in VF start around $10. High Value UNCs, low serial numbers, etc start around $50. Replacements, Scare Dates, etc go well into the 100s. Bundles, Specimen Sets, etc go into the 1000s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Visitors tend to buy packed sweets, ethnic handicrafts of Bedouins, head band and cloth, coins and stamps as souvenirs.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

North Korea - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

North Korea, a country in East Asia located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordered by South Korea, China, Russia, Korea Bay, and the Sea of Japan has a total land area of 46,528 square miles and a population of over 24 Million.North Korea is the most militarized nation whose human rights record leaves everything to be desired. Its overly secretive nature and unwelcoming stance has kept visitors at bay and is nicknamed ‘The Hermit Kingdom’. North Korea is planned and run almost entirely by the government, making its economy state-owned. Industry, agriculture and services are the main contributors to the economy. It has significant mineral resources and its main trading partners are Russia and China. In recent years, other countries have started investing in joint ventures with North Korea.

Travel Resources: 

Its terrain is very diverse with mountains, uplands, coastal plains, valleys, and lowlands. Diamond Mountain is considered the most scenic. Its ‘Complex of Goguryeo Tombs’ is a world Heritage site. The most popular event of the country is the ‘Mass Games’ - gymnastics performed by a large group. Tourism exists after a fashion – visitors are permanently escorted by government eyes.




ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
North Korea Bradt Travel Guide978-1841622194$19Amazing region-wise coverage, so much so that it is a wonder how the author(s) got permission to visit all the places!
Inside North KoreaB0030ILWOW$20192 pages full of photographs, decent narrative, and a good introduction to this closed country.
Korea North and South Nelles Map978-3865742445$121:1.5M Scale. Inset map of Central Seoul.
Korea (North and South) Grounded Adapter Kit – GUA and GUBB001ST6KEC$15

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of North Korea were a set of five stamps released in 1946 while under Soviet Occupation. The set (Scott #1 to #5) is very rare and catalogs for around $2700 Mint and around $2000 Used. The designs show Rose of Sharon and Diamond Mountains. Following World War II Soviet forces occupied North Korea until 1948 when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established. This was followed by a stamp released on August 15, 1946 to mark the first anniversary of liberation from Japan. The stamp (Scott #6) is sought after and catalogs for around $350 Mint or Used. The design shows General Kim II Sung. He was the Prime Minister of North Korea from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to 1994 when he died. He was proclaimed the Eternal President of the Republic after his death. The stamps released till 1948 are all very valuable cataloging in the 100s of dollars range.

Other issues of North Korea enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of six stamps released on August 15, 1951 in the Korean War theme. The set (Scott #36 to #41) catalogs for around $300 Mint and around $280 Used. The designs show Soviet and North Korean Flags, Hero Kim Ki U, and North Korean, Chinese, and Russian Soldiers. The Korean War started in 1951 with North Korea invading South Korea. It escalated into a proxy war between the super powers with US under UN mandate supporting South Korea and China along with Russia supporting North Korea. Casualties added up to more than 1.8 million and the conflict ended with armistice signed in 1953.
  2. A set of five stamps released in 1958 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The set (Scott #145 to #149) catalogs for around $70 MNH and $20 Used. The designs show Hungnam Fertilizer Plant, Pyongyang Railway Station, DPRK Arms, Weaver, and Dam at Pyongyang.
  3. A long set of twenty two stamps released between 1961 and 1965 in the Industry theme. The set (Scott #296 to #317) catalogs for around $150 MNH and around $60 Used. The designs show Crane-Mounted Tractor, Sungri-1010 Truck, Vertical Milling Machine, Victory April-15 Automobile, 8-Meter Turning Lathe, Radial Boring Lathe, Hydraulic Press, 750-Kg Air Hammer, 200mm Boring Lathe, 3000-ton Press, 3-Ton Air Hammer, Ssangma-15 Excavator, Jangbaek Excavator, 400 HP Diesel Engine, Honing Lathe, Trolley, 8-Meter Planer, and Tunnel Drill. Stamps depicting industry are a common theme on North Korean issues.
  4. A set of three stamps released on December 28, 1973 in the Birds theme. The set (Scott #1177 to #1179) catalogs for around $12 MNH and $2 Used. The designs show Great Reed Warbler, Gray Starling, and Daurian Starling. Birds are another common theme on North Korean stamp issues. It is a great topical collection option and most of the sets are valued higher than other issues from the same period.
  5. A set of five stamps and a souvenir sheet released on January 20, 1986 in the History of the Motor Car theme. The set (Scott #2542 to #2546 and #2547) catalogs for around $10 MNH and $2 Used. The designs show Amedee Bollee and Limousine, Stewarts Rolls, Henry Royce and Silver Ghost, Giovanni Agnelli and Fiat car, Ettore Bugatti and Royal coupe, Louis Renault and fiacre, Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Mercedes. Since the mid-70s, North Korea has issued a number of sets in globally relevant themes. Many of them are valued in the 10s of dollars range while others can be had for a few dollars.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Korea called the t’ongbo were minted around 996AD. Chinese currency was in predominant use during the period. From the mid-seventeenth century till the late-nineteenth century, Korea issued cast coins with a square center hole. There are a huge number of varieties of this issue. The first coins of North Korea in the modern era are Aluminum Chons issued in 1959 showing National Arms in Obverse and Value in Reverse. The issue is inexpensive and catalogs for around a dollar in UNC. North Korea has issued a number of commemorative gold and silver proofs starting with the 100 Won (0.1 Troy Ounce) 40th Anniversary of People’s Republic Issue of 1988 showing National Arms in Obverse and Leaping Equestrian in Reverse. The issues enjoy a slight premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of North Korea include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upUNCs from the 2000s start around $2. Commemorative Brass Proofs from the 2000s start around $10. Silver Proofs start around $30. Zodiac bi-metal sets and certain low mintage proofs start around $50. Colored Proof Sets and Gold Coins go into the 100s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs starts around $1. Recent Specimens start around $10. UNC Bundles and Specimen Sets start around $30. Bundles from the 1970s and prior dates, Uncut Specimen Sets, etc go into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Antiques$10 and up19th century and early 20th century maps and original photos start around $10. Choson Yi Dynasty pottery bowls start around $50. Vases, inlaid brush pots etc start in the 100s and go into the 1000s.
Art$10 and upMusic posters start around $10. 19th century local scenes and historical prints start around $20. Original works by John Pike, Paul Jacoulet, etc go well into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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