Essential Information Needed To Know Before Traveling To Laos

Date Submitted: 05/04/2023 - 00 - View

The vast majority of foreign tourists enter Laos on a tourist visa. This visa can be organised via a Lao embassy or can be organised on arrival.


The vast majority of foreign tourists enter Laos on a tourist visa. This visa can be organised via a Lao embassy or can be organised on arrival. The typical visa is valid for 30 days and Evisa fee is around 50USD. Visa extensions are possible.

Tourist Visas

Description : Tourist visas is issued to foreign visitors for their excursion an enjoy sightseeing in Lao the tourist visas valid for thirty (30) days entering and staying permit in the territory of the Lao PDR. Embassies or General Consulates, of the Lao PDR gives those tourist visas at abroad or Lao authorities at the international check points which have had full right obtain tourist visas upon arrival in accordance with their stem employment prohibited.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Description : Non-Immigrant visas is issued to foreign visitors for their excursion an enjoy sightseeing in Lao the tourist visas valid for thirty (30) days entering and staying permit in the territory of the Lao PDR. Embassies or General Consulates, of the Lao PDR gives those tourist visas at abroad or Lao authorities at the international check points which have had full right obtain tourist visas upon arrival in accordance with their stem employment prohibited.

Visa status : Non-immigrant visas is issued to Foreigners’ engineering, researcher and short education in Lao PDR, as well as the monks, athletics, foreign musician who will be present in traditional festival and others to visit relatives in Lao PDR.

Transit Visas

Description : Transit visas is issued to foreign visitors who transit through the Lao PDR. to third country including their air tickets the embassies or general consulates of the Lao PDR at abroad having full right obtain transit visas with its two voyages and stem “ employment prohibited” those visas are allowed to stay permit in the Lao PDR for the period of five(5) days only.

Labour Visas

Description : Labour visas is issued to the foreigners or non citizens who get work permit from the Ministry of labour and welfare and identity cards from the Foreigner control Department and work regally in Lao PDR.




Ordinaly passport



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Laos Visa is easy to obtain on arrival at all port of entry including the most popular international airports of:

• Wattay International Airport in Vientiane Capital.

• Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang Province.

• Pakse Internatioanl Airport in Champasack Province.

• Savannakhet International Airport in Savannakhet Province.

and Border Checkpoints such as:

– China – Laos

• Mohan – Botene , Yunnan to Luang Namtha Province.

– Thailand – Laos

• Chiangkhong – Houixay, Chiang Rai to Bokeo Province.

• Nakaxeng – Kaenthao, Loei to Sayabouly Province.

• Houi Koln – Nam Ngeun, Nan to Sayabouly Province.

• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I, Nongkhay-Vientiane Capital.

• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II, Moukdahan-Savannakhet Province.

• Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge III, Nakorn Phanom-Khammouane Province.

• Chongmek – Vangtao, Ubol Ratchathani to Champasack Province.

– Vietnam – Laos

• Pang Hok – Tay Trang, Dien Bien Phu to Muang Khua and Luang Prabang.

• Nameo – Banleui, Thanh Hoa to Huaphanh Province.

• Namkan – Nam Can, Nghe An to Xieng Khouang Province.

• Keoneua – Nampao (Lak Sao), Ha Tinh to Bolikhamxay Province.

• Lao Bao – Dansavanh, Quang Tri to Savannakhet Province.

– Cambodia – Laos

• Dong Calor – Veun Kham, Cambodia to Champasack Province.





By Air

Direct flights from USA, Europe or some other parts of the world to Laos do not exist. However, there are flights into Laos from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, China and Cambodia.

The country’s flag carrier Lao Airlines offers direct international services to Vietnam, Thailand, China and Cambodia. It also operates domestic services to 10 domestic destinations. Lao Air is another airline located in Vientiane that operates schedules and charter services in the country not served by Lao Airlines.

International Destinations

Airlines serving Asia to Vientiane route include:

-Air Asia (Kuala Lumpur)

-China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Nanning)

-China Southern Airlines (Guang Zhou)

-Lao Airlines (Siem Reap, Kunming, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Bangkok)

-Lufthansa (Bangkok)

-Thai Airways International (Bangkok)

-Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh)

Airlines serving Asia to Luang Prabang route include:

-Bangkok Airways (Bangkok)

-Lao Airlines (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Siem Reap, Udon Thani)

-Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Siem Reap)

Airline Serving Asia to Pakse route includes:

-Lao Airlines (Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap)


Laos has three international airports namely, Vientiane Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang International Airport and Pakse International Airport. Among the three international airports only Wattay International Airport has a runway with over 2,438 m length.

By Road


Dong Calor/Veun Kham border connects Cambodia to Champasack Province in Laos. However pre- visa arrangement is need.


Going to China to Laos is possible using overland border crossing in Mohan- Botene, Yunnan to Luang Namtha Province.


Entering Laos from Thailand is possible at Nong Khai/Vientiane, over the Friendship Bridge; Mukdahan/ Savannakhet, over the Second Friendship Bridge; and Chong Mek/ Ban Mai Sing Amphon. There are other two friendship bridges under construction that will connect Thailand and Laos the 3rd friendship bridge in Nakhon Phanom/ Tha Khaek and the 4th friendship bridge in Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border. Foreigners can also use Tha Li/ Nam Hueng which can be reached via Loei on the Thai side stretching 378 km of dirt road from Luang Prabang or the Bueng Kan/Paksan border. Take note, that some border crossings do not issue visa on arrival.


Da Nang/Lao Bao is the main border crossing between Laos and Vietnam; it connects the Centre Vietnam and Savannakhet Province of Laos. Other border crossings are Cau Treo/Kaew Neua connects the province of Ha Tinh to Bolikhamxay Province; Nam Meo/Sam Neua in Thanh Hoa Province; Nam Can/ Nam Khang border; Po Y Border in Kon Tum Province to Attapeu; and Tay Trang/Sobhoun Phong Xa Ly District in Luang Prabang. Take note that visa on arrival is not available to all border crossings.

By Rail

The Nong Khai to Tha Naleng is the first link across the Mekong River that connects Laos to Thailand. Two shuttle services per direction per day are also available, with one timed to connect to the sleeper trains to/from Bangkok. Visa on arrival is also available when crossing the border by train.

By River

Entering Laos by slow ferry or speed boat is possible by crossing Chiang Khong in Thailand via border town of Huay Xai downstream the Mekong River to Luang Prabang.

Entering Laos from Kunming or Xishuangbanna China is also possible by boat through on Mekong River straight south to Xieng Kok Riverport in Luang Namtha Province.

One can also enter Laos from Cambodia by river crossing at Koh Chheauteal Thom to Voen Kham in Laos.

It is advisable to get a pre-arrange visa before crossing the border by boats.



If you plan to fly domestically, chances are you’ll be on a Lao Airlines flight. Their domestic routes include:

Vientiane – Luang Prabang – Vientiane

Vientiane – Pakse – Vientiane

Vientiane – Phonsavan – Vientiane

Vientiane – Udomxai – Vientiane

Vientiane – Huay Xai – Vientiane

Vientiane – Luang Nam Tha – Vientiane

Vientiane – Savannakhet – Vientiane

Luang Prabang – Pakse – Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang – Phonsavan – Luang Prabang

Lao Skyway’s route set is far more limited:

Vientiane – Luang Prabang – Vientiane

Vientiane – Udomxai – Vientiane

Vientiane – Huay Xai – Vientiane

Vientiane – Luang Nam Tha – Vientiane

Vientiane – Hua Phan – Vientiane

Vientiane – Phongsali – Vientiane

Local buses and minibuses

Buses in Laos are slow — very slow. They’re slow for a number of reasons. They’re slow because they’re old, because the roads are narrow, because they stop very frequently to pick up passengers and because they stop all the time to let people pee. They are cheap though, so the adage that you get what you pay for certainly holds true here.

Minibuses also ply the more popular tourist legs, such as Vientiane to Vang Vieng and onwards to Luang Prabang, but the majority of routes are served by the larger, slower buses.

Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Udomxai, Savannakhet and Pakse are all transport hubs and in many cases the city will have more then one bus station, with different stations serving different destinations.

There are also through international buses — notably the following:

Vientiane – Bangkok.

Savannakhet – Hue.

Vientiane – Hanoi.

Luang Prabang – Hanoi.


Private car hire, generally with a driver, can be arranged through any travel agent in Vientiane or Luang Prabang. Unless you have very specialised needs (or are travelling with your family in tow) private car hire is not a cheap way to explore Laos.


Larger enduro-style dirt bikes can be hired long-term from some travel agents. Prices are reasonable but are sure to carefully check the bike, and whatever you do, do not use the chain and padlock provided by the shop to lock up the bike at night — use your own.


Given how hilly Laos is, it is surprising just how popular the place is with cyclists. Most nearly every town in Laos will have some lodgings, so you shouldn’t struggle for a room. Things to pack include a good supply of inner tubes and patch kits, and of course, your bike — you will need to bring your own.


As the road network has steadily improved, boat services have dropped off drastically as it is far cheaper to transport cargo, including people, by road. As it stands, the only boat routes still operating are those popular with tourists. The Huay Xai – Pak Beng – Luang Prabang trip, the Nong Khiaw – Muang Ngoi – Muang Khua – Hat Sa route are the most popular. Less so is the Huay Xai – Xieng Kok route.

Despite the disappearing routes, travel by boat in Laos is highly recommended, even if your only option is the admittedly very crowded Huay Xai to Luang Prabang route. For trip reports specific to that route, see the Laos slow boat thread on the Travelfish forum.

The large passenger boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang is set up for tourists with a bar selling beer and snacks, a toilet and seats that appear to have been torn out of old cars. These are some of the most comfortable boats in Laos — it generally goes downhill from here.

Typically on shorter routes, smaller boats are used, and these either have hard wooden seats running along the sides of the hull or planks of wood spanning the width of the boat on which to rest your butt. You’ll see these boats often on the Nam Ou and will almost certainly get stuck on one if you decide to head up to Phongsali by a river. They still have room for a bit of cargo. It’s possible to put your motorbike on one of these boats, which is handy if you made your way to somewhere remote by road but can’t face heading back out the same way. A motorbike will generally cost the same amount as another passenger, but the price is negotiable and you will need to pay a fee commensurate with how desperately you need to transport that bike. The smaller boats are obviously less stable than the bigger ones, so you’ll constantly be reminded by the captain to sit precisely in the position required to ensure the boat doesn’t list. This means no leaning over the edge to get photos and very little shuffling around to get comfortable. Just sit there and enjoy the scenery.

The scenery along many stretches of the rivers is simply breathtaking. Remote communities are dotted all along the river and their only connection to the outside world is the odd passing riverboat, which stops to unload cargo and transport villagers heading somewhere to trade or visit family. These more remote villages seldom have access to modern building materials such as concrete and consequently, grass huts are the standard.

Speedboats in Laos have a kind of mystical aura surrounding them, with travellers often chatting about their dangers over a beer as they watch the sunset over the many rivers throughout Laos. What are they like? First of all, they are small — only about 80 centimetres across, which is just wide enough to fit two people of healthy weight side by side. The boats usually fit six foreigners with luggage (backpacks and/or suitcases) or eight locals. There’s also room for your legs, but unless you’re chartering the whole boat, your legs will be bent. The boats don’t actually have seats — simply a wooden separator onto which a cushion is lent and then a cushion for the floor on which you sit. The position you sit in is not that uncomfortable over short distances of up to an hour and you do have enough room to move the position of your legs, but not your bum. It’s on longer journeys where things get a little uncomfortable.

When the sun is blazing, you will burn unless you cover up or lather on plenty of sunscreens. When it rains, you get soaked. On a recent speedboat journey we took, a vicious thunderstorm was underway before we hopped on board and we wanted to wait for it to pass. The boatman would have none of it and we embarked with luggage and proceeded to head off upriver at about 50 kilometres an hour with lightning flashing and rain piercing our skin. You are usually provided with a helmet and this is as much for protection from the elements as it is for a crash.

Upriver speeds are typically around 55 kilometres an hour and downriver speeds about 60 kilometres an hour, although in sections they can go significantly faster than this. While that doesn’t sound so fast, it feels fast when you are sitting just centimetres from the water and you are flying over rapids and zooming past rocks. As well, the wind at these speeds is exactly like it is when you stick your head out of a car window — enough to give you bad wind burn over extended periods of time.

So are speedboats safe? Well, it all depends on how you measure it. We hear of fatal bus crashes all the time throughout Asia and occasionally in Laos. As for speedboat crashes, we rarely hear anything of them, but anecdotally they do happen. We don’t have any statistics about speedboat safety — we doubt they exist — but we believe them to be more dangerous than slow boats.



The health and health care in Laos can still be considered poor compared to the other neighbouring countries. Poor sanitation and the existence of several tropical diseases further eroded the health of the population. Before travelling to Laos visitors should consider extra safety precaution. Some vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable disease and other diseases might be needed. It is necessary to consult your doctor or health-care provider for medical advice at least 3 weeks prior to departure.

Since Laos does not have sufficient health facilities it is adequate to make sure that your health insurance covers your medical expenses abroad if not consider getting supplemental insurance for overseas coverage particularly evacuation. Most travellers obtain their medical care in Thailand. In case of evacuation, travellers go to AEK International Hospital or Northern Eastern Wattana General Hospital both in Udonthani, Thailand. However, there are primary health care center in Vientiane in which foreigners can rely on – the private Centre Medical supported by French Embassy “Centre Medical de L’Ambassade de France” (CMAF) in Kouvieng Rd, Rue Simeuang (tel. +856 21 214150, +856 21 215713); and the primary government hospital in the country Mahosot Hospital, located in Fa Ngum Rd Kou Nyot (+856 21 214018, +856 21 214023).

There are numerous pharmacies in Laos most of them are well stocked with medicines from China, Thailand and Europe (particularly in Vientiane). Nevertheless, packing a personal medical kit is essential.

Except in Vientiane malaria and dengue exist throughout the country so best to discuss with your doctor the best way to avoid getting sick with such diseases. Take a prescription of anti-malarial drug, use insect repellent with 20-25% DEET content or 20% picaridin to exposed skin, and wear long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites. Travellers who is planning to visit malarious areas may not have access to medical care and should bring along with them medications for emergency self-treatment if they suffering from malaria symptoms. Diseases such as Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Typhoid are also prevalent in Laos so vaccination is highly recommended.

To avoid jetlag or motion sickness travelers are advised to take appropriate measure such as taking a dosage of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or Meclizine an hour or two before traveling. Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment among travelers so bringing along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be taken promptly if significant diarrhea occurs (defined as three or more loose stools in an 8 hour period particularly  when its accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in stool).

Travelers must avoid using tap water for brushing teeth or drinking unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. It is advisable to have powdered or tinned milk rather than having unpasteurized milk and other dairy products that might have been from unpasteurized milk. Uncooked meat and fish should be avoided. Make sure that you only eat well-cooked meat and fish, vegetables should be cooked while fruits must be peeled.



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