Is Laos safe? The answer is : Yes, absolutely ! This question is crucial when considering visiting the country. Safety is very important when it comes to traveling with your family or even alone. Obviously, as everywhere in the world, few precautions have to be taken. And by respecting them, the risks of having a problem are slim. But prejudices are strong and many travelers are afraid to travel to Laos. In this article, we break the misconceptions and rumors. Whether you are a family, a couple, or even alone, Laos is waiting for you. Enjoy the reading !
Go to Laos with a peaceful mind because it’s a safe country
You should know that Laotians are very calm and serene by nature. They never shout, lose their temper, nor get angry in public. It comes from their attachment to the Buddhist culture. You will always have courteous and friendly relations with the locals.
There is no insecurity issues.
Theft or pickpocketing is quite rare. But as in any country, you must respect few basic rules to avoid any problem. This is mainly common sense. For example, do not display expensive valuables. Laos being quite a poor country, it is useless to make people jealous. As in many places, if you forget your bag in a restaurant or during a visit, it is likely that you do not find it back (or with some stuff missing). That's why we recommend you to keep your passports and credit card always with you.
There are still some remote areas of the country that are sensitive especially with the presence of mines and bombs from the Vietnam War. But we reassure you right away, you do not have to worry about it. During your treks organized by agencies, you will walk on trails that are at least used by local farmers. No risk, therefore. The danger exists only if you go out of any existing way and mainly in the south of the country if you go for a walk along the track of Ho Chi Minh.
There is no problem for women to travel alone. The locals are very respectful.
Typhoon? Earthquake? Storm? Nothing of that happens in Laos.
As you surely know, Laos is subject to a rainy season. From July to October, rains occur regularly and intensely. Note that it happens mainly at night. In big cities, no floods to expect. In remote rural areas, it can happen. Landslides can occur as well, but only near roads in the mountains.
No danger concerning animals.
You will see that in cities, dogs and cats roam freely, but very few are truly wandering. And they are more peaceful than aggressive :)
In the countryside, you will meet mostly chickens, pigs, cows and buffaloes walking freely. All these animals are friendly. Even buffaloes, which are 5 times the weight of a human, are very fearful.
Regarding snakes, centipedes, scorpions, spiders ... the vast majority do not present a risk. For those who are dangerous, you can find them only if you’re really looking for them. In the forest, stay on the trails, and you will have no problem.
As everywhere in the world, there are precautions to respect :
Vaccines and Malaria
There is no mandatory vaccine outside "standards" ones. However, some are still advised (rabies, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis). That's why we recommend you to consult your doctor or a travel center.
The risk of getting dengue fever or malaria is rather low. Risks increase in the rainy season (June to early October). But the mosquitoes carrying it are mainly in the countryside. To travel with peace of mind, equip yourself with a good mosquito repellent.
What about hygiene?
Tap water is not drinkable. When washing your teeth, use bottled water. Regarding ice cubes, have no fear in cities as long as they are cylindrical with a tube-shaped hole in the middle. They are industrial and the whole country consumes them with Lao beer on a daily basis. On the opposite, avoid consuming it if you are in the countryside or if you have any doubt. Preventing is better than curing.
As for food, it is generally fresh in the city. However, be careful on tourist markets. The grilled meat can stay all day long outside waiting to be purchased. Avoid it. In the worst case, you will have a strong turista!
Avoid driving by yourself
Car: we do not recommend you to drive by yourself as much as possible. The roads are in a very random state, so you have to be very vigilant. What happens in case of an accident with a local? Responsible or not, you will have to pay money. The foreigner is always the loser in that case.
Scooter: rent them only if you know how to drive them. It may seem simple, but we've seen many tourists who think it's a good idea to experiment driving a two-wheeler for the first time in Laos. Sounds stupid to you? It is. And it often ends up in the hospital, with repairs of the scooter to pay. If you still want to rent one, go through a well-known rental agency on Trip Advisor. It will save you a lot of inconvenience or scams. And always wear a helmet! Police checks are common.
By foot: you do not have priority, even if you cross the road on a clearly marked pedestrian crossing. And avoid forcing the others to stop, because it may surprise a driver who did not plan to stop. The traffic in Laos is far from dense so it is not a big problem.
Respect the local customs
We end this article with a lighter note about local customs. The only danger in not respecting them is to offend a local. First, do not lose your temper in public. Laotians are friendly and calm, they will be very embarrassed if you get upset. Do not use your feet to point / indicate anything. Take off your shoes before entering a temple or someone's home.
How to dress ?
Both men and women are modest, thus avoid wearing provocative clothes. Cover your shoulders, cleavage, belly and legs to below the knee, ... Do not walk barefoot on the street. Little anecdote, our offices are in town in Luang Prabang, and it often comes from our window to see tourists barefoot and bare-chested. They think it's the Lao-way but they don’t notice that locals are well dressed from head to toe and very often in closed shoes or at worst in flip-flops.
As you can see, Laos is a country where you can travel safely. Following the tips in this article, you will have a peaceful stay. And above all, having common sense is the first recommendation. In addition to that, the local population is very welcoming, friendly and calm. Be open and smiling, the Laotians will make you a hundredfold your kindness. If we convinced you to visit this small authentic country, do not hesitate to contact us to organize your trip. We will contact you with a unique program that is as close as possible to your expectations. See you soon!