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Essential Laos Packing List

Wondering about what to pack for your trip to Laos?

It is the fact that you cannot bring your apartment inside your baggage. Think twice and just bring something really necessary.

There are many things you can buy here at a much cheaper price than what you pay for it at your home country.

In the other hand, you must prepare something that you cannot or hardly find in Laos such as your prescribed medicine or some special gears for your motorbiking trip. 

You will find below all the information you need to prepare for your Laos packing list

Preparing for your trip to Laos

Preparing for what to pack should be done 1 month before you go. This will depend on the climate during your travel period, the activities that you will join, or the countries that you will visit. 

Moreover, your Laos packing list also depends on your gender, your private hobbies or your travel purpose. 

Answering the below questions will help you have more idea of what to pack for your Laos trip.

What time of year do you plan to visit Laos?

In general, Laos is a tropical country in Southeast Asia, whose climate is affected by the annual patterns of the monsoon. Temperatures and rainfall levels depend on the season, and also differ between highland and lowland locations. On average, the northern, mountainous region is the coolest, while the delta and coastal regions are the wettest.

Despite being off the radar for most tourists, Laos has a fairly steady climate. As in many other equatorial Asian countries, Laos has two broad seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. (The dry season can then be further divided into the cool and hot seasons for a total of three distinct seasons.)

With pleasant temperatures, less rainfall, and several festivals, the dry season is a great time to visit anywhere in Laos. Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and other parts of the country will rarely see rain. If you plan to visit multiple regions, the consistency of the dry season will make travel easier.

You can check more detail about Laos weather and best time to visit here

Which parts of Laos are you going to explore?

Of course, you need different gears for the different parts of Laos.

There is not much to prepare if you only visit the big city such as Luang Prabang, Vientiane, or Pakse, whose main tourist spots are temples, historic museum, or nearby ethic groups.

The northern part of the country consists of mountain ranges to the north, east, and west, if you plan to trek in the area, then the trekking shoes and/or trekking stick is needed.

More swim wears should be prepared in case you plan to join some water activities in Vang Vieng or 4000 Islands.

Check out all the Places to visit in Laos  here

What activities are you going to join in Laos?

Anything adventurous such as motorbiking, hiking, water activities? Visiting temples and museums?

If you are planning to hike, get the best hiking shoes you have. If you are going to spend some day relaxing by the pool at one of the many beautiful resorts, it is better to have some more bikinis to join the water activities. And if you are going to visit temples, make sure to pack appropriate clothing for places like that.

Check out all the things to do in Laos here

How long are you planning to travel in Laos?

Depending on how long you are planning to travel can definitely affect your packing list. If you will be caught in the middle of the season change, there is a reason to pack some sweaters, rain jackets, and waterproof shoes. You will also have to get a waterproof cover for your backpack.

Which other countries are you going to after Laos?

It's simple, if you are heading somewhere else after Laos, you need to check its climate and weather as well, and of course, prepare extra packing list for those countries.

Normally, you can add some Laos’s neighbor countries to your plan such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Check out the packing list for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Laos packing list

To make it easier, we will divide your packing list into 6 categories below:

  • Essential documents including passports, blood type card, or useful address. 
  • Clothing: specific for women and men
  • Toiletries: remember to pack just something you cannot buy. Most of the toiletries you can find in Laos at a cheaper price
  • Travel health & helpful hints: All the essential prescribed medicines that you barely find in Laos
  • Electronics & gadget to pack: Suitable electronic equipment to enjoy during the trip
  • Miscellaneous for Laos: All other necessary items not listed above

Below is the detailed items list of each category.

Documents to bring

  • Passport - must be valid for the next 6 months when you arrive or enter in Laos. And it must have at least 6-month validity on the date of arrival
  • Visa - check if you need a visa or if your free visa days are not enough - here is how you can apply for a Laos visa, if you need one or not and how to extend your visa if you need to
  • Return ticket - when you land or enter Laos, it's not common for the immigration officer to ask for your exit ticket, however, if they do, you should have one ready. You can also tell them that you are crossing the border to Thailand or Vietnam, which is acceptable.
  • Accommodation confirmation - it is proven that depending on your length of stay or nationality or immigration officer, a confirmed hotel or accommodation booking will be asked, book at least the first three nights, save the email confirmation (screen shot on your phone)
  • Travel insurance - the immigration will not be asking this; however, your trip can be unpredictable, it's always better to be ready and have a peace in tour mind than taking a risk especially if you are planning to go motorbiking or do adventurous trips. Here is Laos travel insurance that you need.
  • Photocopy - get a photocopy of your passport and visa page. This can be helpful in case you lost your passport.
  • Blood type card – have a copy with you either in hard copy or a screen shot in your mobile phone. 

Clothing

The clothing is different for men and women. There should be some extra packing if you are going to join a motorbiking trip. In case you have kids, you need extra clothing for them as somethings cannot be found here.

Clothing for women

  • 1 cotton shirt - preferably in coloured to wash easier
  • 2 dresses - 1 maxi, going/short dress
  • 3 pair of shorts - 2 sports types, one board/denim type
  • 1 pair of leggings - I won't use it as it is but perfect to use underneath a skirt 
  • 1 long sleeve - will be useful for places where you need to cover up (doesn't have to be thick)
  • 4 pair of socks - especially if you are planning to hike a lot (thick one if you are going during winter on the north)
  • 2 pairs of sports bras, 2 pairs of regular bras
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes - if you have North American or European size, those sizes cannot be found here
  • 2 pairs of bikinis
  • 1 lightweight big scarf/sarong - use it with leggings when visiting sacred places or blanket at airports or bus journey
  • 1 walking shoes/hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of flip-flops - don't bring expensive ones, you might lose them anyway
  • 1 pair of cute sandals
  • 1 rain jacket - lightweight
  • 1 quick dry towel
  • 1 security/waist belt

Clothing for Men

  • 3 shorts - 1 travel short, preferably with lots of pockets, 2 day/board shorts
  • 5 T-shirts - 3 cotton, 1 athletic shirt
  • 1 tank top - unless you prefer tank top over T-shirts
  • 1 long trouser
  • 1 long sleeve thin shirt
  • 4 pair of socks - at least one pair for hiking and winter
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 1 lightweight scarf/sarong - can be useful for sacred places and as a blanket
  • 1 quick dry towel
  • 1 pair of flip-flops - don't bring an expensive one, you might lose it anyway
  • 1 hiking/walking shoes/boots
  • 1 closed pair of shoes
  • 1 security/waist belt
  • 1 pair of swim shorts - fast dry and lightweight

Extra for motorbiking in Laos – both women and men

  • If you are planning to drive or ride a motorbike, you might want to add these on your packing list:
  • 1 long trouser - to cover and protect your skin under the very hot sun and possible crash
  • 1 polarised sunglasses
  • 1 face mask - to cover your nose and mouth with dirt and smoke
  • 1 headwear
  • Translation app or Laotian dictionary
  • An offline or online map on your smart phone

Extra for travelling with kids

Travelling with kids will be fun but can also be a nightmare especially if you fail to pack the must bring items and accessories. Here are some:

  • Medicine - they can be found here; however, it will be consuming and the risk of getting not the right dosage or exact equivalent of the medicine you need is too much to risk
  • Cotton clothing - cotton shirts can be expensive in Laos while the sizes can be an issue too
  • Entertainment items - such as coloring books, toys, shows to watch
  • Wet wipes and toilet paper - they are pretty easy to find
  • Bag for rubbish - always whenever, wherever
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Swim wear
  • Sunblock for kids - get a reef-friendly sunblock
  • Floaters and goggles
  • Hat/sun hat
  • Underwear
  • De-tangling hair spray, hair comb, and hair ties
  • Water bottle
  • Their own suitcase - if your kids are big enough, you should let them have their own suitcase

You should remember that sizes can be an issue in Laos.

Accessories

Packing accessories

To help you pack wisely and smartly, here are some packing accessories that can be useful:

  • Packing cubes - it will help you pack faster and access whatever you need in bag easier
  • Ziplocs - it is very useful for keeping your gadgets and documents dry especially during rainy season and if you are going motorbiking
  • Laundry bag - the best ones are the plastic with Ziploc on to contain the dirt and smell

Accessories for motorbiking

If you are going motorbiking in Laos, make sure you have these with you as well:

  • Rain cover for your backpack
  • Rain cover for your motorbiking
  • Overall onesie rain suit/rain jacket
  • Rain boots
  • Phone holder - so you can look at the map easier and faster, they can be bought in Laos but best to get from your home country in case you are using a new model
  • Dry bag - place items that you will need often so you can reach them easily

Accessories for safety

Trouble and bad people are everywhere, however, if you come prepared, you can avoid or lessen the chances that these issues might happen if you pack some of these things:

  • Padlocks - get a good one that is not too heavy to carry
  • RFID wallet - for passport and bank cards
  • Money bag/waist bag - bring one that is thin enough to place on your waist and hide under your shirt
  • Filtration water bottle - to avoid buying bottled water all the time and to make sure that you only drink clean water
  • Head torch/torch
  • Whistle
  • Copy of your prescriptions - must be translated in English

Toiletries

Toiletries for women

These items are mostly cannot be found in Laos; therefore, you must bring them with you from your home country:

  • Menstrual cup/tampon - tampons with applicators are almost impossible to find
  • Toothbrush heads - if you use an electric toothbrush
  • Makeup - some international makeup brands are not available here
  • Shampoo, hair conditioner, body gel - you don't need to pack big sizes/bottles, they can be bought here easily and cheaply.
  • Toothpaste: as long as you need something special, you can find the most popular products from Unilever or P&G in Laos
  • Deodorant: you can also find the popular brands in Laos
  • Sunblock and moisturizer/lotion - most moisturizer or lotion here have whitening
  • First aid kit - plasters, gauze pads, painkillers, menstrual cramp pills, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic cream
  • Perfume
  • Hair products - for curly hair
  • Tissue/wet wipes - pocket size, they are easy to buy here

Toiletries for men

A few basic toilet items that you cannot get in Laos:

  • Shower gel and shampoo - easy to buy in Laos
  • Shaving cream - not impossible but not cheap
  • Deodorant – easily to find popular brands in Laos
  • Electric shaver – better to bring your own than buy the new one
  • Toothbrush heads - if you use an electric toothbrush
  • Perfume
  • Sunblock and moisturizer - most moisturizer or lotion here have whitening
  • First aid kit - plasters, gauze pads, painkillers, menstrual cramp pills, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic cream
  • Tissue/wet wipes - pocket size, they are easy to buy here

Travel health & helpful hints

Packing a basic health kit is a good idea no matter where you are going, and truly imperative if you have any sort of health conditions or take regular medications.

  • Personal medical essentials plus Epi Pen if necessary
  • Copies of all your prescriptions/immunizations and your doctor’s phone number
  • First aid kit: Imodium, ibuprofen, paracetamol, tums/antacid tablets, Benadryl
  • Allergy meds, asthma inhalers, & eye drops
  • An adequate supply of prescription medications (knowing the generic name comes in handy)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Anti-diarrheal tablets
  • Antibiotic cream/ointment
  • Anti-malarial if necessary (check with your doctor and the CDC/WHO before going)
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites
  • Tiger balm (for headaches/muscle soreness/sinus issues)
  • Band-Aids/bandages
  • Mints or ginger to aid digestion and upset stomach
  • Essential oils/travel diffuser for wellness regimen

Check the full list of Healthy Packing List from CDC HERE

Electronics & Gadgets to pack

Here are a few electronics and gadgets that you must pack both to keep you entertain and to help you with planning, during travelling, and to keep in touch with your family and friends back home.

Standard gadgets to pack

  • Smartphone - will help you in many ways; digital maps, mobile banking, contacting your hotel/hostel, contacting your family, to download your bus, train, and plane tickets
  • Camera - your smartphone can be good enough, while other travelers bring digital cameras or action camera
  • Phone chargers - pack at least two sets of phone chargers
  • Headphone splitter
  • External hard drive - at least 265 GB to save those photos
  • Power bank - 2 pieces would be better
  • 2 SD cards - for your camera
  • Universal converter

For entertainment

  • Kindle/ebook reader - to kill time on those long bus journeys or flight connections
  • iPod/music player - again, the bus journey can be really long
  • Laptop - unless you will use it for something else like work or you will be travelling for a really long time, perhaps it will not be smart to bring a laptop
  • Chargers - for every gadget that you will be bringing
  • Headphones/earphones - never ever leave without these

Miscellaneous

  • Eye mask & neck pillow
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel journal
  • Waterproof watch
  • Mosquito repellent - easy to buy here
  • Chapstick, nail cutter & nail file
  • Toric contact lenses

What NOT to pack for Laos

1. DON’T BRING a bath towel.

Bath towels are notoriously bulky and take forever to dry in a tropical climate. A towel is one of the essentials to take to Laos, but pack a quick-dry one instead, which is much lighter and more convenient.

2. DON’T PACK heavy books.

Even just a couple books will really weigh down your bag. If you want to do some reading during your trip, take a Kindle instead, which stores as many books as you want and takes up very little space. Many guesthouses and hostels in Laos also have book exchanges, where you can pick up a book for free and then return it or drop it off at another one.

3. DON’T TAKE lots of cash.

Except in very rural areas, ATMs are located throughout Laos, so you shouldn’t have any trouble accessing cash once you arrive. There’s no reason to take a bunch of money with you and risk having it stolen.

4. DON’T PACK a mosquito net.

Mosquito nets sometimes appear on packing lists for tropical countries, but it’s really not worth bringing one. At hotels where a net is necessary, one will normally be provided – and even if it isn’t, there’s usually not a way to hang up your own.

5. DON’T BRING a sleeping bag.

There’s no reason to bring a sleeping bag unless you’re planning a camping trip and know you’ll need your own gear. A travel sheet should be sufficient for anything else.

6. DON’T TAKE expensive jewelry.

Flashy jewelry is best avoided since it can make you a target, and if you have anything valuable or sentimental, there’s no reason to risk it being lost or stolen.

7. DON’T BRING unnecessary electronics.

You’ll probably want to bring some electronic devices with you, but leave whatever you won’t need at home. Unless you’re really going to use it during your trip, don’t run the risk of it getting lost or stolen on the road.

8. DON’T TAKE lots of warm clothes.

The climate is hot and humid, so the best clothes for Laos are lightweight. A rain jacket is a good idea, and a light fleece or sweater can be useful on buses that crank up the A/C, but you really don’t need anything warmer than that.

Packing tips & tricks

If you are having a hard time to decide what to bring, check out these packing tips:

  1. Pack only what you need - sounds easy but I understand it's not, with this, you should remember to forget about the phrase "in case I need this"
  2. Pack the ones you really need and cannot buy in Laos - like lotion without whitening or tampons or clothes of your size
  3. Do a trial packing - if you can't fit everything in your bag or suitcase or you barely can close it, remove 1/4 of it (decide which one is your least favorite) and pack again
  4. The ideal weight - how long will you be travelling for, what season? for one month of hot seasons, you won't need more than 15 kgs
  5. The heavy and big ones - unless you are on a bigger size, you should a buy winter jacket and other heavy accessories such as shampoo or shower gel in Laos, much better is pack a soap instead

And below are some recommended packing tricks

  1. Pack all of your chargers and cables in a separate packing cube
  2. Keep some Ziploc bags handy for any emergency
  3. Travel size containers for jewelry, toiletries and personal items are always helpful
  4. Official currency is the Laos Kyat but keep a stash of US Dollars or Euros 
  5. Always keep medications and tech gear in your carry-on luggage/personal item
  6. Pack duct tape, it saves the day every time!
  7. Clip a few carabiners – they always come in handy
  8. Keep a few clothes pegs with you – good for laundry and closing snack bags

Frequently asked questions

Q. What kind of luggage or suitcase that I need?

If you’re travelling around, nothing beats a backpack for sheer portability, especially as not everywhere in Laos has pristine pavements that will make maneuvering a wheelie suitcase easy.

Invest in a well-made backpack – if you need to economize, this is not the item on which to do it. Osprey is a solid choice in a variety of sizes. Remember to get a daypack too.

Use travel cubes to organize items in your backpack so you don’t have to empty the whole pack to get to what you want.

Luggage locks are useful for peace of mind while your bags are away from you in transit. Get TSA approved locks if you’re going in and out of the USA.

Q. How many kilos can I have with the checked baggage and hand luggage?

Most of the regional carriers only accept maximum 20 kilos of checked baggage and 7 kilos of hand luggage.

Q. When is the cheapest time to fly to Laos?

Logically, the cheapest time to fly to Laos is during the off-season from April until October. As there are not many tourists visiting the country, the airlines and hotels seem to offer promotion to attract more tourist and try to fill-up the plane. If you are ok with the heat and some sudden rain, this is the time for you.

According to cheapflights.com.au, the cheapest flights to Laos are usually found when departing on a Monday. The departure day with the highest cost is usually on a Friday.

Moreover, Laos flights can be made cheaper if you choose a flight at noon. Booking a flight in the morning will likely mean higher prices.

Simply follow this, sometimes you can have the promotion of 40-50% discount.

Check our full guidelines to find the cheapest ticket to Laos

NOT READY YET?

We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Laos, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Laos
Luang Prabang
bee-white Luang Prabang

The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

Vang Vieng
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Vientiane
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The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

4000 Islands
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Phonsavan
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Nong Khiaw
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Laos PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
Family
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Cycling
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Must-see
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Check out all the must-see places and things to do & see

Luxury
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Honeymoon
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Cruise
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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Laos PLANS BY TIME FRAME
white-icon About 1 week
yellow-icon About 1 week
white-icon About 2 weeks
yellow-icon About 2 weeks
white-icon About 3 weeks
yellow-icon About 3 weeks
white-icon About 4 weeks
yellow-icon About 4 weeks
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SPECIAL Laos TIPS & TOURS

Search for your nationality below to see our special Laos travel tips & advice for your country. CONTACT US if you cannot find yours.

Australian
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United States
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United Kingdom
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Laos BLOG ARTICLES

On June 7th, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam and Laos in the list of "safest to travel".

Time to travel now? We do not think so! Let's check more detail below.

...more

Bucolic Wat Phou (Wat Phu, Vat Phou, Vat Phu) sits in graceful decrepitude, and while it lacks the arresting enormity of Angkor in Cambodia, given its few visitors and more dramatic natural setting, these small Khmer ruins evoke a more soulful response. While some buildings are more than 1000 years old, most date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The site is divided into six terraces on three levels joined by a frangipani-bordered stairway ascending the mountain to the main shrine at the top.

Visit in the early morning for cooler temperatures (it gets really hot during the day, and on the lower levels there isn't any shade) and to capture the ruins in the best light. Make sure to grab a map at the entrance as there is little to no signage here.

...more

Buddhist Lent Day (Thailand Wan Khao Phansa, Laos Boun Khao Phansa) is the start of the three-month period during the rainy season when monks are required to remain in a particular place such as a monastery or temple grounds. Here, they will meditate, pray, study, and teach other young monks. In the past, monks were not even allowed to leave the temple, but today, most monks just refrain from traveling during this period. You will still see them out during the day.

It is said that monks started remaining immobile in a temple during this time because they wanted to avoid killing insects and harming farmland. Apparently, traveling monks were crossing through fields, thus destroying the crops of villagers and farmers. After catching wind of this, Buddha decided that in order to avoid damaging crops, hurting insects, or harming themselves during the rainy season, monks should remain in their temples during these three months.

Tired of reading, listen to our podcast below:

...more

Initiated in 2006 by an NGO working for years with the elephants, this annual meeting of Laos Elephant Festival became one of the big festivals of Laos, followed by thousands of Laotians who move to attend a number of exercises, parades, and elections of the most emblematic animal of Laos. Fifty elephants are walking around for 3 days in the streets of the small provincial town. A large market takes place for the occasion with all kind of local (or Thai) products.

Home to the country’s largest pachyderm population, Xayabouly Province is the natural choice to host this growing event that also aims to raise awareness about the need to protect the endangered Asian elephant, which has played such a vital role in Lao people’s livelihoods, culture and heritage.

...more

The highlight of the year in Wat Phu Champasak is the three-day Buddhist festival, held on Magha Puja day on the full moon of the third lunar month, usually in February. The ceremonies culminate on the full-moon day with an early-morning offering of alms to monks, followed that evening by a candlelit wéean téean (circumambulation) of the lower shrines.

Throughout the three days of the festival Lao visitors climb around the hillside, stopping to pray and leave offerings of flowers and incense. The festival is more commercial than it once was, and for much of the time has an atmosphere somewhere between a kids' carnival and music festival. Events include kick-boxing matches, boat races, cockfights, comedy shows and plenty of music and dancing, as bands from as far away as Vientiane arrive. After dark the beer and lòw-lów (Lao whisky) flow freely and the atmosphere gets pretty rowdy.

...more

When the three months of Buddhist Lent come to an end in October, it is the perfect time to visit temples and celebrate the end of the rainy season. In Laos, this is called Boun Awk Phansa (Sometimes translated as Boun Ok Phansa or Boun Ock Phansa) and various religious and local traditions can be observed during this time. Moreover, there are plenty of festive activities are organized throughout the country with floating flower boats, candles, fireworks, lavishly decorated wats and an old-time carnival … all make for a magical Boun Awk Phansa festival in Vientiane, Laos. 

...more
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Vietnam
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Friendly and food-obsessed, hedonistic and historic, cultured and curious, Thailand tempts visitors with a smile as golden as the country's glittering temples and tropical beaches.
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