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Travel Insurance Laos


Laos Country Guide

  1. Country Facts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: Asia & Oceania
Full Name: Lao People's Democratic Republic
Capital City: Vientiane
Language Spoken: Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages

Laos Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

18 00 N, 105 00 E

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Mekong River 70 m highest point: Phou Bia 2,817 m

Land boundaries

total: 5,083 km border countries: Burma 235 km, Cambodia 541 km, China 423 km, Thailand 1,754 km, Vietnam 2,130 km

Natural hazards

floods, droughts

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones

Land use

arable land: 4.01% permanent crops: 0.34% other: 95.65% (2005)

Environmental current issues

unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water


Throughout most of the country, the climate is hot and tropical, with the rainy season between May and October when temperatures are at their highest. The dry season runs from November to April. Required clothing Lightweights and rainwear, with a sweater for winter and upland areas.

Time difference

time difference: UTC+7


6,368,481 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 41.4% (male 1,324,207/female 1,313,454) 15-64 years: 55.4% (male 1,744,206/female 1,786,139) 65 years and over: 3.1% (male 89,451/female 111,024) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 18.9 years male: 18.6 years female: 19.2 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

2.39% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

35.49 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

11.55 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 55.49 years male: 53.45 years female: 57.61 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.68 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Lightweight suits and ties are generally worn for business meetings. Punctuality is important to businessmen in Laos. French is the most frequently used language for business transactions involving foreigners, though some officials speak English. Business cards should have a Laotian translation on the reverse. Handshaking is not common and people greet each other with their palms together and a slight bowing of the head. Avoid discussing politics and related subjects in conversation to avoid possibly offending your listener. Office hours are 0800-1200 and 1330-1730 Monday to Friday.


Vientiane is a relatively safe city in comparison to most western cities. Most crime directed at foreigners is non-confrontational in nature and primarily consists of purse snatching, pickpocketing, or residential burglary. Physical assaults are relatively rare. The political situation in Vientiane, and in most of the country is stable with no noticeable anti-foreigner sentiment. There are remote areas in sections of northern Laos to which overland travel is discouraged due to bandit and insurgent activity. Persons planning to travel to infrequently visited parts of Laos should contact their embassy for advice. Frequently visited tourist locations are generally safe. Police service: police tend to be non-responsive and are infrequently seen in the city. Although individual officers are polite, few speak English and most will not react without formal authorization from their superior officer. Expatriates requiring police help may wish to contact their embassy for assistance.


There are hotels in Vientiane, but facilities are sparse elsewhere. Local village hostels are available, but with few amenities.


Telephone IDD service is restricted, but available. The country code is 856 and the outgoing international code is 00. Telephone links exist with Bangkok.


is a 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Electricity 230 volts AC, 50Hz.

Plug Types


Food And Dining

Rice, especially sticky rice, is the staple food and dishes will be Indo-Chinese in flavor and presentation. Lao food can be found on the stalls in the markets. There are several fairly good French restaurants in Vientiane, catering mainly for the diplomatic community. Baguettes and croissants are normally eaten for breakfast. Rice whisky, lao lao, is popular and there are two brands available. The beer is also good.

Practised modestly in hotels and restaurants.

There are several discos in Vientiane that tend to have live Lao bands. Most large hotels will have their own nightclubs.

Entry departure requirements

Visa immigration information


Passport with at least six months remaining validity required by all.


Required by all.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist, Business: US$59 (including service and document fees). Families may only be charged US$59 per family if all living at the same address, and same surname is indicated on passports.


Validity starts from day of entry into Laos. Tourist/Business: 30 days (can be extended twice in Vientiane for 30 days ). Visas must be used within three months of being issued.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy) or an officially recognized tour operator. A visa valid for Laos can also be obtained from travel agencies in Bangkok (Thailand) or on arrival (see above). Visas are issued on arrival at 14 international checkpoints throughout Laos, including Luang Prabang Airport, Pakse Airport and (Wattay) Vientiane International Airport for stays of 15 days and costs US$30. For further details, contact the nearest Embassy.

Application requirements

(a) One passport-size photo. (b) One signed and completed application form. (c) Valid passport. (d) Fee payable by cash or cheque. (e) Postal applications should include an additional ?5 (inside France) or ?10 (international), to cover postage. Business: (a)-(e) and, (f) Letter from sponsor in Laos.

Working days required


Temporary residence

Enquire at nearest Embassy or Consulate. For extension of visa, consult the Immigration Office (tel: (21) 512 012); neglecting to do so will result in a fine of US$10 per day until leaving the country.

HIV entry requirements

No Test Required

Departure tax

US$10; children under two years of age and transit passengers are exempt


Embassy of Laos in the UK

49 Porchester Terrace, London W2 3TS

Embassy of the Lao People?s Democratic Republic in France

74 Avenue Raymond Poincar?, 75116 Paris, France
Tel: (1) 4553 0298.

Embassy of the Lao People?s Democratic Republic in the USA

2222 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 332 6416.
Also deals with enquiries from Canada and Mexico.

Most visits to Laos are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
In 2004, there were explosions in the capital Vientiane and attacks on buses, resulting in injury and death.
Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty. Banditry has also been reported in rural areas and unexploded ordnance is an ongoing danger.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Tel: (0845) 850 2829.

US Department of State



Lao Kip (LAK) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of LAK5000, 2000, 1000, 500 and 100.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local currency is prohibited. There are no restrictions on the import or export of foreign currency, but amounts greater than US$2000 must be declared.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1330-1730.

Currency exchange

Thai Baht and US Dollars are the easiest currencies to exchange. They are also widely accepted in shops, markets and hotels in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

Credit cards

Major credit cards are accepted in the more upmarket hotels and restaurants. Check with your credit or debit Card Company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

Limited acceptance. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Thai Baht.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Loungprabang(0)71+ 6 digit subscriber nr
Pakse(0)31+ 6 digit subscriber nr
Pakxan(0)54+ 6 digit subscriber nr
Svannakhet(0)41+ 6 digit subscriber nr
Thakhek(0)51+ 6 digit subscriber nr
Vientiane(0)21+ 6 digit subscriber nr
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease OOutbreaks
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Avoid dental treatment in Laos as the standards of care are low and hygiene cannot be guaranteed.

Medication Availability

Generally the quality of medication cannot be guaranteed in Laos, as heat damaged and out of date supplies may be stocked

Blood supplies

Blood supplies should be considered as unsafe in Laos

Medical facilities

Medical facilities and services are severely limited and do not meet Western standards. The blood supply is not screened for HIV or AIDS.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools; avoid freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. Injuries resulting from automobile or motorcycle accidents are perhaps the greatest health hazards in Vientiane.


Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Japanese Encephalitis: Consider vaccination if staying a month or more from May to October when transmission is presumed to occur, especially if travel includes rural areas. Also consider if staying less than 30 days during that period and at high risk (in case of epidemic outbreak or extensive outdoor exposure in rural areas). Polio: A one-time booster dose is recommended for travelers who have previously completed a standard course of polio immunization. Refer to CDC guidelines for vaccinating unimmunized or incompletely immunized persons. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination; however, if protection is needed, either IPV or OPV may be used, depending on preference and time available. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: considered an important cause of disease in this area. Chikungunya fever - occurs Dengue fever - occurs Dengue hemorrhagic fever - occurs Encephalitis (Japanese type) - common (presumed to be endemic/hyperendemic countrywide) Filariasis - prevalent in rural areas Malaria - common Typhus (mite-borne) - occurs in deforested areas Food-borne and water-borne illness: these diseases are common. Cholera - occurs Clonorchiasis (oriental liver fluke) - occurs Dysentery (amoebic and bacillary) - occurs Fasciolopsiasis (giant intestinal fluke) - occurs Hepatitis (viral) - occurs Melioidosis - occurs Opisthorchiasis (cat liver fluke) - occurs Schistosomiasis - occurs in Khong District (south) Typhoid fever - occurs Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported, and cases of polio still occur regularly. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - occurs

Entry requirements

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers coming from infected areas.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

Australian Embassy Health CentreP.O. Box 292 Vientiane
International Medical ClinicMahosot Fa Ngum Road Vientiane
The Swedish Embassy ClinicSok Paluang Vientiane


Press: English-language newspapers in Laos include the Vientiane Times; Le R?novateur is a French language newspaper.
TV: Lao National TV (TVNL) and Laos Television 3, a joint venture with a Thai company, are the main TV channels.
Radio: Lao National Radio is the national radio station.