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.