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Laos Tourist Visa Policy

Given that traveling to Laos is becoming more and more popular, one of the most common questions that we get from our fellow travelers is: “Do I need a visa for Laos?”

Well, to visit Laos you must obtain a visa unless you come from one of the visa exempt countries. You must hold a passport valid for six months and one empty page.

Nevertheless, there is nothing to worry as it is very easy to apply for Laos visa as for most of the visitors. You can apply for either visa online (e-visa), visa on arrival, or visa at the Laos embassies all over the world.

Check the detail below and find the most convenience way for your case.

Lao Visa Policy

In general, Laos visa policy is quite easy and straight forward, that can be divided into 4 main categories: Visa online (e-Visa), Visa Free (Visa Exemption) (14-15-30 days), Visa on Arrival (30 days), and Visa or official approval required in advance for 32 blacklisted countries.

At the moment, there is the list of 32 nationals, mostly from Africa, some from Middle-east Asia, and some from Central America need to apply visa via Laos embassies or consulates abroad before boarding the flight to Laos. If you do not fall in that list, you can either apply for e-Visa (online Visa), visa on arrival, or visa via an embassy abroad.

Check out the map below to get a general idea (Click the image to enlarge)

Visa Online or E-visa

Laos government launched the online Visa (e-Visa) scheme on July 9th, 2019 for the citizens of all nations.

It is now the most convenient way to apply for tourist visa. Let’s check out below.

What is Laos e-Visa

The E-Visa Laos is an electronic travel authorization which the Laos government has launched officially in July 2019. Citizens from eligible countries can apply online for their e Visa Laos.

As soon as the e visa to Laos is approved, the travelers will be able to stay in Laos for tourism purposes for a maximum period of 30 days for a single entry.

To be able to benefit from this easy and rapid way of obtaining an eVisa, applicants must provide the correct information concerning their passport.

When arriving in Laos, travelers must show their approved Tourist E visa Laos to the border authorities to enter the country.

The Laos E visa application is aimed to make more fluid the immigration process and to amplify the border security checks.

Applicants must answer some questions and give details such as their full name, address, date of birth, passport details, and travel plans, when doing their application online.

Who is eligible for Laos e-Visa?

Laos e-Visa is available for the citizens of all nations (Except the ones in the Visa exemption scheme).

Notice: Though it is mentioned that all nationalities can apply for online visa, we received the reports from our fellow travelers from blacklisted countries that they cannot apply for online visa. The most popular reason is that they could not find their countries in the list when they tried. In this case, we recommend you contact with Immigration office or nearest Lao embassies directly.

Where to apply for Laos e-Visa?

Laos immigration office has its own website for the tourists to apply online, so you can apply from there. https://laoevisa.gov.la/ 

How to apply?

Applicant can apply in 4 easy steps.

  • Step 1: Choose where you are from, and which countries you are planning to visit
  • Step 2: Fill in the application form
  • Step 3: Review your application online, then apply if all looks good.
  • Step 4: They will send you the visa when it is done (about 3 working days). Then download the eVisa Approval Letter.

How much does Laos e-Visa cost?

Laos’ e-Visa costs about $45-$50/person depending on your nationality and how fast you want it. Officially, you can use this calculation to check the price for your case. Please note that the price quoted does not include the card processing fee.

What are the required documents to apply?

If you are applying for the e-Visa, you have to upload the following documents:

  • Passport bio page.
  • Photograph size 4×6 cm (have been taken no longer than 6 months)
  • Additional documents may be required

Photograph Specifications

The size of the photograph must be 4×6 cm, as per ICAO Standard photograph:

Your visa application photograph must meet certain criteria regarding size and content. Submitting photos that do not meet these criteria can delay the visa application process. If your photo does not meet the requirements, you will have to provide new photographs before your application can be processed.

How long does it take to process e-Visa?

The standard processing time is 3 working days after submitting the application and pay the visa fee. 

Please note that your application will be proceeded in the same day if you apply in the morning session. If you apply in the afternoon session, then your application will be proceeded in the next day of the Lao local time (GMT+7).

Which ports in Laos provide e-Visa service?

At the moment, there are only 5 ports accepting Laos online visa applicants:

  • Wattay International Airport in Vientiane. (Google Maps)
  • Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang. (Google Maps
  • Pakse International Airport in Pakse (Google Maps)
  • Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I connecting Vientiane and Nong Khai (Thailand). (Google Maps)
  • Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II connecting Savannakhet and Mukdahan (Thailand) (Google Maps)

Laos government will soon extend the list of e-Visa accepting port to at least 2 more international border checkpoints including:

  • Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 4 in Huayxay connecting Chiang Khong in Thailand (Google Maps), and
  • Boten International Border connecting Mohan in China (Google Maps)

Stay updated!

Frequently Asked Questions for Laos e-Visa

1. How do I get my eVisa Approval Letter?

When your eVisa application is approved, an Approval Letter will be sent to your email address that you informed at the time of registration.

2. How long is an e-Visa valid for?

An eVisa is valid for maximum of 60 days after receiving the Approval Letter.

3. How long can I stay in Laos using the e-Visa?

The Stay Permit of eVisa is 30 days.

4. How to apply for e-Visa?

Officially, you can apply by yourself via the website of Laos immigration office: www.laoevisa.gov.la
Check the below video to understand more about Laos e-Visa

5. Can I print my e-Visa approval letter in black and white?

Yes, as long as it is legible to the Immigration Officer especially the QR Code.

6. Do I have to print the approval letter or can I show the electronic version or photo of it to the immigration officer?

You are currently required to print out the eVisa Approval Letter and present it to the Immigration Officer.

7. I am not receiving email concerning my e-Visa although I provided the correct email address while filling my e-Visa form. How do I proceed?

If you are not receiving emails properly, please contact with the immigration office directly.

8. If my eVisa application is rejected, can I apply again?

Yes, you can re-apply using the Online service. Please ensure you submit the complete documents.

9. Do I need to line up at Visa on arrival desk when I have e-Visa approval letter in hand?

No, there will be a special lane for eVisa service at the arrival ports.

10. Why should I use online application system?

By applying online, you can submit all the required documents and information and pay the visa fees from your home or office. In additional, you can use eVisa special lane at arrival port to avoid standing in the long queue at the Visa on Arrival lane.

11. How many copies of e-Visa approval letter do I need to print out?

You only need to print one copy.

12. If I submitted the information incorrectly, can it be modified?

Applicants are responsible for the correctness of all information submitted during the application process. You cannot modify anything after submitting the documents.

13. Can I contact the nearest Lao embassy to check for my e-Visa status?

No. Please check your eVisa status online. Once your eVisa application is approved, an Approval Letter is sent directly to your designated e-mail address. You can keep track of your order HERE

14. How can I check e-Visa status?

You will get the reference number after submitting the documents and proceed the payment. You can use that reference number to check your visa status online.

15. What type of visa can I apply online?

At the moment, only tourist visa is available to apply online. The other types will be updated soon.

16. Can I apply for a group visa?

Yes, you can apply for maximum 5 people per application.

17. What are the photo requirement for e-Visa?

  • Your photo must be:
  • Sized 4 x 6 cm.
  • In color.
  • Taken within the last 6 months.
  • With no shadows.
  • With a plain white background.
  • You must face the camera in the photo.
  • Have a neutral expression.
  • Have both eyes open.

18. My passport is expired soon, can I still get an e-Visa?

All visitors need to have a passport valid for more than 180 days from the date of arrival. If your passport validity is less than 180 days, you must renew or apply for a new passport before applying for your eVisa.

19. My e-Visa was issued with an incorrect information, what should I do?

If your eVisa was issued with incorrect information, contact immigration staff via email.

20. Will the e-Visa be valid for single entry or multiple entry?

eVisa is valid for Single Entry only.

21. What if I lose my e-Visa

If you lose your eVisa approval letter, you can reprint it by accessing it from your email.

22. Why was my Visa application rejected?

The reasons will be provided to you by email.

23. Do children or infants need a Visa?

Yes, all applicants including children and infants must have a visa to enter the Lao PDR.

Tourist Visa on Arrival

The Lao government issues 30-day tourist visa on arrival at all international airports and most international border crossings.

The whole process is very straightforward. You need between US $30 and US $42 in cash, one passport-sized photo and the name of a hotel or guesthouse.

Those without a photo, or who are arriving on a weekend, holiday or after office hours, will have to pay an additional one or two dollars.

The visa fee varies depending on the passport of origin, with Canadians having to fork out the most (US $42) and most other nationalities paying between US $30 and US $35.

It is cheaper to pay in US dollars as a flat rate of 1500B (around US $45) is applicable in Thai baht. No other foreign currencies are accepted.

Where to Get Laos Tourist Visa on Arrival

At the moment, you can apply Laos Visa on arrival at 3 international airports, 9 border checkpoints. Please check the below Google Maps for your reference:

3 International airports

  • Wattay International Airport in Vientiane Capital
  • Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang Province
  • Pakse International Airport in Champasak Province

9 International Border checkpoints

While Laos has seven land international borders with Vietnam and Thailand, it only has one international border checkpoint with Cambodia and China.

+ 1 Laos - Vietnam Border Checkpoints

  1. Dansavan – Lao Bao (Savannakhet – Quang Tri)

+ 6 Laos - Thailand Border Checkpoints

  1. Huayxay – Chiang Khong (Bokeo – Chiang Rai)
  2. Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I (Vientiane – Nong Khai-Udon Thani)
  3. Tha Laneng Train Station (Vientiane – Nong Khai-Udon Thani)
  4. Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge III (Thakhek – Nakhon Phanom)
  5. Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II (Savannakhet – Mukdahan)
  6. Vangtao – Chongmek (Champasak – Ubon Ratchathani)

+ 1 Laos - Cambodia Border Checkpoints

  • Dong Kralor – Stung Treng (Champasak – Stung Treng)

+ 1 Laos - China Border Checkpoints

  • Boten – Bohan (Luang Namtha – Yunnan)

Documents required and fee for Laos Visa on Arrival

Check out the documents required and visa on arrival fee below:

  • Your original passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity and 3 blank page for a visa sticker.
  • A visa application form, filled out and signed by the applicant (available at visa window at Lao ports of entry or given before landing if you are arriving by plane)
  • Two (2) recent passport-type photographs.

Laos visa on arrival fee

Please check the table below to see how much you need to pay for Laos visa on arrival fee.

COUNTRY PRICE (USD/PERSON)
Australia 30
Canada 42
China 20
Indian 40
Sweden 31
Sri Lanka 40
USA 35
UK 35
Others 30

 

Notes :

  • If you cannot find your country in the list, you can assume it costs US $30 (Others), or otherwise your country may be in “not eligible” countries list (The list of ‘Who cannot get Visa on Arrival’ below).
  • On weekends, Lao public holidays, before 8am and after 4pm weekdays, there is a US $1 over time fee. In addition, an entry fee (2,500 Kip or so) may be charged.
  • At Thai-Lao international border checkpoints Thai Baht may be accepted for Laos visa on arrival fee but  we would recommend paying your visa fee in US $ to avoid losing money through unfavorable exchange rates. The same rules apply when you apply the Visa at the border with Vietnam, Cambodia, or China
  • Similarly, if you want to save a bit here and there when in Laos, it is better to pay in the currency quoted whether it is US $, Lao Kip or Thai Baht whenever possible to avoid converting from one currency to another. You might want to know more about budget and currency while traveling in Laos.

How to get the Laos Tourist Visa on Arrival

Please follow the below 6 steps to apply for the Laos visa on arrival:

  1. If you want to be prepared and if you have access to a printer, download the visa application form. Print and fill it out and take with you, otherwise wait till you arrive.
  2. On arrival, head to the window marked visa on arrival. In most ports of entry including the Lao international border crossing points and Lao International Airports (Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and Savannakhet) the Laos visa on arrival window is located at the arrival channel.
  3. If you have not already pre-filled the application form, get it at the window and fill it out.
  4. Submit the completed form together with your passport and 2 photographs.
  5. Pay the visa fee cash in US $, a complete list of fees is usually placed at the window for your reference.
  6. After providing everything needed, wait nearby, your name will be called once your visa is ready.

The visa processing time varies between ports of entry. At major airports or at Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in Vientiane it takes around 10-15 minutes.

Delays are possible in late afternoons, weekends and public holidays at both visa window and immigration windows especially at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridges.

Who can get the Visa on arrival?

All foreigners intending to visit Laos as tourists, except for citizens of the countries listed under “Who cannot get Laos Visa on Arrival?” below.

Note: Citizens of ASEAN member countries as well as some other countries, who have special agreement with Laos, are exempt from Laos visa.

You can find the list of country entitled to visa exemption further down this article.

Who cannot get Visa on arrival?

Nationals of the following 32 countries are ineligible to obtain a visa on arrival, and they can only obtain a visa on arrival if they are traveling on an official visit and are holding an official letter of guarantee issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos.

Afghanistan Guinea Liberia Sierra Leone
Algeria Guinea-Bissau Libya Sudan
Bangladesh Ivory Coast Mozambique Suriname
Burundi Iran Nauru Swaziland
Cameroon Irag Niger Syria
Congo Jordan Nigeria Tonga
DR Congo Lebanon Pakistan Zambia
Ghana Lesotho Senegal Zimbabwe

 

How can blacklisted country citizens get the Visa to Laos?

It is written somewhere that you can apply the visa to Laos at one of the oversea Lao Embassies or Lao Consulates in your countries or regions.

It is correct but not enough as you will first need to apply for the Visa Approval Letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We recommend you get in touch with local travel agency to check for the latest procedure.

Here is our recommendation to get your visa to Laos for blacklisted countries:

  1. Plan: Working with the government office always takes time, sometimes, the procedure will be postponed because there is a festival, official holiday, or they are busy joining some parties. We recommend you to have a solid plan at least 2 months before departure.
  2. Contact with a local travel agency: finalize your plan with them and provide full information of your plan: Tour plan, hotels stay, arrival and departure flight, copy of passport, and the Lao Embassy or Consulate that you will get the Visa issued. Then the agency will help you take care of the rest.
  3. The whole procedure will take about 30-45 days and cost US $50 to 70 per person depending on your group size. Of course, you can do it faster, however, you know it already, the faster you want, the more money you need to pay.
  4. Once the Visa Approval Letter is issued, you take that and get the Visa issued at Laos Embassy or Consulate that you register with the local travel agency

Additional notes : 

  • We recommend you choose the Lao embassy or consulate in your area.
  • However, if there is no Lao embassy or consulate in your area, you may need to plan your travel route to pass through one of Laos’ neighbor countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China or Myanmar), there are Lao embassies in these countries.
  • With the Visa approval letter, it should take you no more than 2 hours to get the Visa issued

Visa at the Laos Embassies abroad

In most of the case, Visa on arrival is the most convenient and recommended method to apply Visa to Laos.

The visa issued at the embassy is generally for the tourists from blacklisted countries only (33 countries listed above).

However, in case you want to have visa ready before boarding the flight to Laos, you can also have it at one of the Laos Embassy or Laos Consulate.

General Requirement

  1. Valid passport with remaining validity of at least 6 months from the date of your entry.
  2. Two blank pages on your passport (Lao visa stamp takes up a whole page, plus there has to be space for immigration stamps too).
  3. Two recent photographs (3cmx4cm), in color, front view and with a plain/light background.
  4. Duly filled Visa Application Form with one photograph attached.
  5. Visa fee (amount depends on your nationality and where you apply).
  6. A copy of your itinerary.

Additional requirement for applying Lao Visa from USA

Visa fees:

  • US $10 for Lao Origin
  • US $50 for US citizens
  • US $57 for Canadian citizens

Visa fees can be paid by money order or certified check

If applying by mail, enclose prepaid self-addressed return envelope

Validity

Two months from the date of issue.

Period of stay
30 days from the date of entry.

Contact 

You can have a look at our useful addresses to get the contact details of U.S. representations regarding Laos.

Additional requirement for applying Lao Visa from UK

Visa Fees

Please check directly with the embassy at (+44) 20 7402 3770 

If mailing in your application, include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Validity

02 months from the date of issue.

Period of stay

30 days from the date of entry.

Contact 

You can have a look at our useful addresses to get the contact details of U.K. representations regarding Laos.

Additional requirement for applying Lao Visa from Australia

Visa fees:

AU $45 for one entry (including handling fee)

Processing time: 5 working days from date of receiving your completed application

AU $60 for urgent visa (including handling fee)

Processing time: 1 working day

Visa fees can be paid by money order or cash payable to: “The Lao PDR EMBASSY”

Validity

Two months from the date of issue.

Period of stay

30 days from the date of entry.

Consulates and Embassies

You can have a look at our useful addresses to get the contact details of Australian representations regarding Laos.

Visa Exemption

Laos visa exemption is granted to many countries including all ASEAN member countries and some non-ASEAN nations that have entered into mutual agreements as well as some former USSR countries.

Laos also extends privileges to Laotians (Lao people) residing abroad who hold foreign passports by lowering the visa fee or in some case charging no fee and allowing them to stay longer.

For some countries the visa free scheme applies to all type of passports (Diplomatic, Official and Ordinary passport), while for others it only applicable to certain type of passports. The length of stay ranges from 14-90 days depending on the countries.

List of countries entitled Lao Visa Exemption

Followings are lists of countries with which Laos has reached mutual agreements on Laos visa exemption. 

ASEAN Countries

  • 14 days ordinary passport exemption : Brunei, Myanmar
  • 30 days ordinary passport exemption : Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia

Non-ASEAN Countries

  • 15 days ordinary passport exemption : Japan, Russia, South Korea
  • 30 days ordinary passport exemption : Mongolia

Others 

  • 15 days ordinary passport exemption : Luxembourg, Switzerland

Natives of Laos residing abroad

Apart from the lists above, Laotians holding passports of other countries are exempt from Lao visa fee, regardless of their current nationality or citizenship status.

This program has been in place since 1 January 2011. More details below.

90-day visa

Free of charge provided that you are either:

  • 65+ years of age
  • Under 15 years of age
  • Monk/priest (all ages)
  • Physically and/or mentally disabled (all ages)

If you are a Lao person and fall into one of the groups above, you can apply for a visa for free either at Lao embassies/consulates outside Laos or at Lao international airports, or Lao international border checkpoints where visa on arrival is available.

Furthermore, you can get your visa extended at immigration office in Laos free of charge when your 90-day visa expires should you want to stay longer.

60-day Visa

Free of charge for all Laotians, no age constrains, but you need to apply for the visa at Lao embassy/consulate abroad.

You can get Laos visa extension for free at the immigration offices in Laos should want to stay longer. Visit immigration department website.

60-day visa on arrival

If you are a native of Laos but not fall into any of the groups above, you will be given 60 days permit (not the usual 30 days) when applying for Laos visa-on-arrival. Though you still need to pay the usual fee. This ranges from US $20 to 42 depending on your current citizenship.

However, if or when you get your visa extended at the immigration offices in Laos you will only be charged half of the fee (10,000kip/day). The full fee is 20,000kip/day (around US $2.5).

Whether you chose to get your visa at the embassy or at your port of entry, you need to hold a valid passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity and provide two passport-type photos for visa processing.

Laos Visa Extension

If you find your visa is about to expire and you wish to stay longer in Laos, don’t worry, it is possible to get all types of Laos visa (except for a Transit Visa), extended at the immigration office in Vientiane.

It cost US $2 per day if you apply before the expiry date. However, if you leave it until your visa expires you will be fined for US $10 per day for the days you overstayed.

If you are in Vientiane, your Laos Visa extension can be done at the Immigration Office behind the Joint Development Bank (JDB) on Lane Xang Avenue, opposite the Morning Market.

The office is open Monday-Friday, from 8:00am-4:00pm (closed 12:00 to 13:00 at lunchtime). The office is closed for applications on Friday afternoon.

Requirements

  • Your passport
  • One passport type photo
  • Service fee of US $3
  • Application fee of 3,000 kip per person
  • Visa extension fee : US $2 per day if you have valid visa, US $10 per day if your visa is already expired (overstayed days)

Get a travel agent or specialist provider to do your Laos visa extension for you.

Most travel agents can arrange a Laos visa extension for you with a small overhead fee. This varies between providers, so shop around for the best deal.

The process is straight forward, just fill out the application form then submit together with your passport and pay the fees. In normal circumstances your visa is usually ready the same day.

If you only plan to stay for a few more days this option could work out best.

If you are in Vientiane it is very easy, you can take a public bus (around 10,000 kip) to the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge.

Complete  the immigration procedures on the Lao side; the take the shuttle bus (5,000 kip) to the Thai immigration point and enter Thailand.

If you want to come straight back into Laos you simply have to cross the road to the Thai immigration to exit the country.

Once again, get the shuttle bus and then arrive at the Lao side, where you can apply for a Laos Visa on Arrival.

Your passport must have at least 6 months of remaining validity and a blank page for a visa stamp and don’t forget to take enough cash (US dollars) for the visa fee and two passport sized photos.

Reminders and extra tips

As you can see, there are different ways to get your visa for Laos, and there are many factors to consider such as citizenship, duration of stay, current situation, due date …

Below are some notices when apply for Laos visa:

  • In any case, upon receiving your visa, it is essential to double check all information. In case of inaccurate personal information, please contact the corresponding service for correction or adjustments. 
  • Also remember that your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned stay, and you must have at least one blank visa page.
  • Do not apply for your visa too early since the period for visa validity (i.e. your Laos entry date) may range from one to three months.
  • Do not apply for your visa too late. If you are applying for a paper visa, embassies and consulates can take anything from one day to several weeks to process your application. 
  • There is no multiple entry tourist visa, you can have only one current visa in your passport. Despite being costly, the only solution is to apply for a visa on arrival each time you enter the country. 
  • Do not overstay your visa period. Overstaying your visa by a couple days might not be a big deal and will likely result in a fine. However, do not even attempt to overstay for a longer period since you will certainly be banned from the country for several years.

If you wish to get more details about visa to Laos or are in a specific situation not detailed above, we invite you to send us an email. We will do our best to give you an answer as soon as possible.

Frequently asked question

Q. Is Laos safe to visit?

Yes, Laos is a safe place to visit, and many find it much safer than their hometowns in the west. There are occasional reports of petty theft, and the occasional bag snatching, but these can be avoided by being cautious with your belongings

Q. When is the best time to visit Laos?

The small, landlocked country of Laos is best visited between October and April, when the weather's warm and dry throughout. River travel is best between November and January, when high water levels make passage easy along Laos' main waterway, the Mekong River.

Q. How to book the cheap flight to Laos?

This will require a little skill and plan in advance. Check the detailed guide to book cheapest ticket to Laos here

Q. How much does a trip to Laos cost?

The trip to Laos will roughly cost $120-150/person/day for the group of 2 travelers. Depending on the hotel you choose or the activities you join, the cost can reach up to more than $200/person/day.

Check out the guide for Laos tour cost here

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
bee-white Vang Vieng

Vientiane
bee-white Vientiane

The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

4000 Islands
bee-white 4000 Islands

Phonsavan
bee-white Phonsavan

Nong Khiaw
bee-white Nong Khiaw

Laos PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
Family
bee-white Family

The combination of fun and educational activities

Cycling
bee-white Cycling

Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Must-see
bee-white Must-see

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

Luxury
bee-white Luxury

Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Honeymoon
bee-white Honeymoon

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

Trek & Hike
bee-white Trek & Hike

Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Cruise
bee-white Cruise

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

Unseen
bee-white Unseen

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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Canadian
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German
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French
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Laos. 

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