What to prepare for traveling to Laos
1. Paper to bring:
In recent times, travelers visiting Laos are required to bring several important papers, including:
- Passport with minimum 6-month validity left
- A second photo ID other than your passport
- Driver's license if you wish to go on the road or rent a bike or a car
- Important scans and documents on hardcopy and on dropbox or google drive etc
- Good Travel insurance (most policies cover Laos, but check)
- A visa or an approval letter for visa on arrival (if applicable).
- Proof of onward travel (such as return ticket or itinerary).
2. Travel Insurance:
With lush scenery, excellent spring weather, and plenty of historical sights, Laos has quickly become one of the most visited countries in the ASEAN alliance. If Laos is on your “must-visit countries” list, you will find plenty to do and explore there. But as you plan your visit to this Southeastern Asian country, you must carefully consider a critical part of your trip— travel health insurance.
You don’t technically need travel health insurance to enter Laos as it’s not a requirement, but you are always advised to purchase travel insurance when traveling. When you visit a new country, many things can happen— you might get sick, you might have an accident, require emergency care, or cancel your trip.
Your travel insurance ensures you are covered in any of these scenarios; this way, you won’t be expected to pay high amounts for medical or emergency services. This is why you should include travel insurance in your visit to Laos.
When deciding what to wear in Laos, remember it is a very traditional country and body-revealing clothes should be avoided.
Pack light, as it is easy and cheap to get clothes laundered.
The tropical monsoon climate means it is humid and hot all year round; lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in natural fibers such as cotton, silk or linen will keep you cooler.
Light wool is a good choice to wear against your skin as it naturally helps to regulate your body temperature. It wicks away moisture when it's hot, and doesn't retain odours – even after prolonged wear.
Good sunglasses and a sunhat are a must, and take plenty of sunscreen.
Depending on your needs and what you deem necessary, this will vary from person to person. However, I recommend taking a few things with you in case you need to make use of them.
Before your trip, be sure to stock up on plenty of prescribed medications that you may need throughout your trip. This also includes contact lenses.
Keep in mind, it can be tricky to get ahold of prescriptions in Laos, so I would advise coming prepared with everything you need for the duration of your stay.
Nonetheless, the list below includes some of the general items you may like to consider to make your trip a little bit more comfortable. It will give you peace of mind to be prepared in case any situation arises where you need to make use of them.
- Vitamins (Any that you deem necessary)
- Electrolyte tablets
- Antiseptic location
- Diarrhoea medication
- Insect repellent
- Anti-itch cream for bug bites
Make sure you bring some earplugs for when you're stuck in a noisy bus or sleeping room. Take a mirror for shaving, as often local guesthouses or homestays in Laos won't have any. Bring also some hooks and a string for hanging up washing or your wet gear. While traveling in Laos, remember to pack some games for long bus rides or the evenings with villagers and friends you meet along. Tampons are not commonly available and can be bought only in a few expat grocery stores in Vang Vieng, Pakse, Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Giving gifts in villages is tricky. If we do not give to each student then sometimes gifts of books and supplies don't make it to the intended recipients. On the other hand, foreigners physically giving gifts to local children is in conflict with our sustainable and responsible tourism policies. Giving directly enforces the "white-saviour syndrome". We aim to help local people to use their own skills, strengths and local resources. Unwise giving can destroy local growth and initiatives. "Give once and people respond with gratitude. Give twice and you create expectation. Give three times and people develop a sense of entitlement." Wherever there is sustained one-way giving unwholesome dynamics and relationships will flourish. Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people. The reality is local villages are not resourced and your gifts of books, pens, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, or other school resources are much needed, and your guide will distribute your gifts to villagers.
7. Power Bank
From long bus rides to day trips, you might run into situations where you can’t charge your phone for 12+ hours while in Laos. A power bank lets you keep your phone charged up when a power outlet isn’t available. As always, it’s worth checking your airline’s power bank capacity restrictions before you travel to make sure you don’t face any issues checking it into your carry-on luggage.
8. Pocket Torch
Many areas of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and other Lao cities have unreliable or no lighting at night, meaning you’ll want to bring a keychain torch with you to make getting around after dark safer and easier.
9. Power Plugs:
In Laos the power plug sockets are of type A, B, C, E and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.
- Type A: mainly used in North and Central America, China and Japan. This socket only works with plug A.
- Type B: like type A but with an extra prong for grounding. This socket also works with plug A.
- Type C: also known as the standard "Euro" plug. This socket also works with plug E and plug F.
- Type E: this type is of French origin. This socket also works with plug C and with plug F if it has an additional pinhole.
- Type F: also known as "Schuko". This socket also works with plug C and plug E.