Traveling tips for Laos – what you should know before a trip to Laos

Are you planning a trip to Laos soon? Friendly folks, breathtaking natural beauty, and a distinctive cultural experience may all be found in this lovely Southeast Asian nation. Knowing the ins and outs of travel, health and safety regulations, and cultural etiquette is crucial to making the most of your experience. We’ll cover important information and helpful hints in this post on what to know before traveling to Laos, how to be ready for the trip, and what to anticipate while you’re there.

Laos is a place that will wow you, regardless of your level of experience traveling or whether this is your first time experiencing an adventure. Experiences abound, ranging from the magnificent Mekong River to the historic temples and lively marketplaces. Spend a few minutes reading through our professional guidance and secret recommendations to guarantee a seamless and pleasurable trip.

Now let’s get started. If you are prepared and have the appropriate information, you will have no trouble making wonderful memories while visiting this fascinating nation.

What should I know before entering Laos?

Before entering Laos, there are several important things you should know:

Health and Vaccination:

  • Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before every trip.
  • All eligible travelers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Hepatitis A and B vaccines are recommended for unvaccinated travelers one-year-old or older going to Laos.
  • Japanese Encephalitis vaccine is recommended for travelers who are moving to an area with Japanese Encephalitis to live, spend long periods of time, such as a month or more, in areas with Japanese Encephalitis, or frequently travel to areas with Japanese Encephalitis.

Entry Requirements:

  • Your passport should have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the day you enter Laos.
  • Airlines only allow the boarding of flights to and from Laos if you have 2 blank pages in your passport.
  • Visas on arrival is available at Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang’s and Paske airports but not at all land borders or Lao Immigration checkpoints.
  • You can apply online for an e-Visa – you must submit your application at least 3 days in advance of your entry to Laos.

Customs Rules:

  • There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of the country. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty

The Dos and Don’ts in Laos

Here are some important dos and don’ts to remember when you’re in Laos:


  • Greet people with a smile and a “sabaidee” (hello). You can also use the “nop” gesture, which is placing your palms together at chest level and bowing slightly. This is especially respectful when greeting elders or monks.
  • Dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees when visiting temples or villages. Avoid wearing revealing clothes or swimwear in public places. You should also take off your shoes before entering a temple or a house.
  • Try the local food and drinks, and accept any offer of water or snacks from your hosts. You can use chopsticks or a spoon to eat, but don’t use your left hand, as it is considered unclean.
  • Purchase local handicrafts and products to support the local economy.


  • Don’t touch anyone’s head, as it is considered the most sacred part of the body. Also, don’t point your feet at anyone or anything, as they are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body.
  • Don’t touch or turn your back to a Buddha image, as it is considered disrespectful. You should also keep your head lower than any Buddha image or monk, and don’t sit higher than them.
  • Don’t litter or use plastic bags, as they are harmful to the environment and wildlife.
  • Don’t engage in any illegal or immoral activities, such as drugs, gambling, prostitution, or child exploitation.

What should you be careful of in Laos?

When visiting Laos, there are several things you should be careful of:

1. Food and Drinks:

  • Lao food is generally safe, but avoid eating raw meat or fish, as they can harbor dangerous bacteria.
  • Raw fruit and vegetables are fine, but it’s a good idea to wash them first to avoid consuming pesticides.
  • Water safety cannot be guaranteed due to the aging pipe network. It’s recommended to drink bottled water or use bottle refill stations.
  • Despite rumors, ice is generally safe for consumption in Laos.

2. Health and Wellbeing:

  • If you become ill during your trip, there are doctors and hospitals in all major cities.
  • For any serious injury or surgery, you may want to consider a medivac to Thailand or Vietnam.
  • The most common illness for visitors to Laos is Traveler’s diarrhea.

3. Safety Concerns:

  • Laos is mostly safe to visit. However, there are high levels of property crime, both minor crimes such as petty theft and more violent ones such as armed robbery and mugging.

4. Cultural Etiquette:

  • Do not touch a monk.
  • Do not trek without a guide.
  • Do not argue with the police.
  • Do not touch anyone with your feet.
  • Do not shout, argue, or rush.
  • Do not make public displays of affection.
  • Do not do drugs.
  • Do not bathe or walk around in a bikini.

How much cash should I bring to Laos?

The amount of cash you should bring to Laos depends on your spending habits and the duration of your stay. Here are some things to consider:

1. Daily Budget:

  • For larger budgets, 30 USD to 40 USD per day are suitable. This should cover accommodation, meals, transportation, and sightseeing.

2. Currency:

  • Laos’s official currency is the kip. However, Kip is not accepted or exchanged outside of Laos, so you will need to get your Kip once you arrive.
  • US dollars and Thai Baht are widely accepted and easily exchanged inside Laos. The most cost-effective currency to spend in Laos is usually Kip because USD and Baht will generally be calculated with a slight markup in favor of the seller.

3. ATMs and Credit Cards:

  • There are ATMs all over Laos, but there are withdrawal restrictions that limit you to between 700,000 Kip and 2,000,000 Kip per transaction (as low as US$85 and up to around $250).
  • You can seldom use your foreign card to pay in Laos. Card payments are accepted at very few places.

4. Cash on hand:

  • Some travelers recommend arriving with USD 500 in case an ATM doesn’t work or the hotel credit card links are down.
  • Import and export of foreign currency is not limited, only the amount over 2000 USD in cash or checks must be declared.

How much USD can I bring to Laos?

Laos’ currency is called the Kip (LAK) and one U.S. dollar is typically worth around 20,800 kip. U.S. dollars are widely accepted throughout the country, as well as Thai Baht. If you are bringing in more than $2,000, you have to declare it at customs. There is no mandatory requirement to carry any minimum amount of cash.

However, you should note that you can’t take any kip outside of Laos, so make sure you exchange any before leaving the country.

How to prepare for a trip to Laos

Here are some tips on how to prepare for a trip to Laos:

1. Itinerary Planning:

  • Plan your itinerary. A 10-day journey is recommended to cover the major attractions.
  • Start your journey in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its architectural significance and spiritual practices.
  • Next, head to Vang Vieng, a town for adventure lovers surrounded by limestone karsts.
  • End your travels in the capital city of Vientiane.

2. Visa and Entry Requirements:

  • Ensure you have a valid passport with an expiry date of at least 6 months after the day you enter Laos.
  • Have some spare passport photos, proof of accommodation, and a US$ 50 ready for the visa.
  • An outward-bound ticket may be needed.
  • You can apply for an eVisa online in advance.

3. Health Precautions:

  • Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before your trip.
  • Hepatitis A and B vaccines are recommended.
  • Consider getting a Japanese Encephalitis vaccine if you plan to spend a long time in areas with Japanese Encephalitis.

4. Travel Cost and Transport:

  • Plan your budget considering the costs of traveling in Laos.
  • Be aware that traveling in Laos can be a bit difficult as the roads are not well-developed.
  • Book your train ticket at least a day in advance.

5. Packing:

  • Do not pack aerosols and sprays on your trip to Laos.

What to wear in Laos?

Laos is a traditional country, and it’s important to dress modestly. Here are some tips:

  • Lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or linen will keep you cooler in the hot and humid climate.
  • Avoid body-revealing clothes.
  • For sun protection, consider a baseball cap, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Everyday clothes could include loose-fitting T-shirts, flowy pants, long skirts, and shorts.
  • For evening wear, consider a long, flowy dress or long pajamas.
  • Footwear could include sandals, sneakers, and hiking boots.
  • If you’re visiting during the rainy season (May until September), pack a lightweight raincoat.
  • When visiting places of worship, your body, legs, and shoulders must be covered.

Is Laos friendly to tourists?

Yes, most people agree that Laos is a tourist-friendly country. The Lao people are renowned for being hospitable and kind. The nation’s stunning scenery, waterfalls, and temples make it one of Southeast Asia’s most unspoiled regions. Respecting regional traditions and customs is crucial, though.

Is Laos expensive to visit?

While Laos is perhaps marginally pricier than Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, it’s nothing that’s going to break the bank. The cost of travel in Laos is very affordable. For example, the cost of street food ranges from 0.55 to 2.75 USD, local food in a restaurant costs around 1.40 to 4.40 USD, and western food in a restaurant costs around $3.30 to USD 11.10.

What is not allowed in Laos?

There are several things that are not allowed in Laos:

  • Touching a monk or novice is considered rude, especially if you are a woman.
  • Arguing with the police is inadvisable.
  • Touching anyone with your feet is considered the height of rudeness in Lao culture.
  • Wearing shoes inside a home or temple is generally not allowed.
  • Shouting, arguing, or rushing is generally frowned upon.
  • Preaching religion without permission, including giving out religious material, is illegal.
  • Speaking or publishing material critical of Laos is illegal.
  • Camping in public spaces, along riverbanks, or near forests is not allowed.


What not to eat in Laos?

While the food in Laos is generally safe and delicious, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat due to the risk of diseases like anthrax.
  • Be cautious of food and drinks offered by strangers, as there have been reports of travelers being assaulted after accepting spiked food or drinks.
  • It’s also recommended to avoid certain dishes if you’re not accustomed to them, such as ant-egg soup or fried crickets.
  • Always ensure that your food is freshly cooked and served hot.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please leave a comment below. Share this article with others who may be planning a trip to Laos and help them make the most of their trip.

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