Recommended vaccinations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all travellers to Laos:
Recommended vaccinations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for some travellers to Laos:
Other diseases to consider while travelling to Laos:
Landlocked Laos is often left off South East Asian travel itineraries, but this culturally rich country has much to offer, from dramatic caves and mountains to golden monasteries and historic buildings. Although it might not have the beaches that neighbouring countries do, its spectacular natural features and major Buddhist sites make it a destination well worth visiting.
Capital Vientiane’s charming Old Quarter has boulevards lined with tamarind trees, French colonial buildings, and glittering, golden Buddhist temples including the 16th-century Pha That Luang, a national symbol. Colourful, UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang is home to an astonishing 33 gilded wats and a delicious French-influenced dining scene. It’s located where the Mekong River and Nam Khan meet, and contains the country’s former Royal Palace. For thrill-seekers, head to Vang Vieng, once a party city and now a hotspot for adventure activities, including caves such as Tham Nam and hiking trails. Zipline over the Nam Kan National Park area at the Gibbon Experience, staying in 40-metre-high tree houses and keeping your eyes peeled for tigers, clouded leopards, black bears, and gibbons – all of which live in the forest below.
Zika, Dengue and Malaria
International health authorities have classified Laos as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. Dengue and Malaria are also endemic and therefore, visitors should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitos through the use of deterrents and mosquito nets. The use of anti-malarial drugs are recommended in some areas of Laos.
Medical care in Vientiane is extremely basic and outside the capital there are no reliable facilities to deal with medical emergencies. Medical evacuation is difficult to organise and very expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
There are no proper mental health services or care facilities in Laos. Professional treatment including medication is difficult and expensive to obtain. Emergency mental health treatment is likely to require transfer to a country offering appropriate facilities. Always make sure your travel insurance policy covers any pre-existing mental health conditions.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1195 or 030 5257239 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. You may be asked to pay for the use of an ambulance and any treatment you may require in advance. Usually you will get a receipt that can be used to claim on your insurance.
Voluntary ambulance services also operate in Vientiane free of charge. Make sure anyone attending an accident is wearing a uniform identifying themselves as ‘Vientiane Rescue’ or ‘Lao Red Cross’. There have been reports of bogus companies who aren’t trained in first aid charging for attending accidents.
Vientiane Rescue (telephone: 1623 or (0)20 5666 8825).
Lao Red Cross Rescue (telephone: +856 (0)20 5996 6111 or (0)20 2200 5563.
Please be aware that these phone lines and emergency services telephone numbers are not staffed by English speakers.
There have been outbreaks of avian influenza (also known as bird flu) in poultry in Laos. The risk to humans is very low, but as a precaution you should avoid contact with domestic, caged or wild birds and make sure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
Travel on the Mekong River by speedboat and slow-boat can be dangerous, especially when water levels are low. Make sure you travel with a company that provides lifejackets.
White water rafting, kayaking, tubing and other water-based activities, including swimming in the Mekong, are dangerous and incidents of drowning and serious injuries have been reported. Laos does not have the same health and safety expectations as in Singapore. There might not be warning signs or safety advice provided, even where it’s needed. Take great care and check your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for these activities.
The local equivalent to the Singapore ‘999’ emergency lines are: 1190 for fire, 1195 for ambulance and for police: 1191, 241162, 241163, 241164, and 212703. The Tourist Police can be contacted in Vientiane on 021-251-128.
Petty crime, including bag snatching occurs frequently often using motorcycles, especially in tourist areas. Take sensible precautions, keep hold of your bags carrying them on the side away from the road and do not have valuables on display.
Safes provided in hotels and guesthouses aren’t necessarily secure. Consider using your own lock where possible. Take care of your possessions if you’re travelling long distances, or overnight, by public transport. Be particularly vigilant travelling at night by bicycle or motorcycle, especially if you’re alone. Stick to well-used, well lit roads and carry a personal alarm if possible. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid unlit roads, especially if you’re alone.
Don’t leave your passport as a deposit or guarantee when hiring motorcycles. There have been reports of rental companies arranging for rented motorcycles to be deliberately stolen or damaged resulting in the retention of the passport and payment of a heavy fine. Always make sure your travel insurance covers medical and other costs associated with motorcycle rental and accidents.
Local law enforcement responses to crimes, even violent crimes, are often limited. Foreigners attempting to report crimes have reported finding police stations closed, emergency telephone numbers unanswered, or police lacking transportation or authorisation to investigate crimes that occur at night.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.