Laos Warnings and Dangers

  • Watch out for those pesky trees.
    Watch out for those pesky trees.
    by IreneMcKay
  • Warnings and Dangers
    by Willettsworld
  • Sign, Phonsavanh, Lao.
    Sign, Phonsavanh, Lao.
    by planxty

Laos Warnings and Dangers


    It is against the law to have sexual relationships with a Laotian girl in your hotel room and if caught it may cost you up to a $500 fine. Many hotels in Vientiane warn against this. One of the reasons for this is the government don't want the country to become like Thailand where there are many prostitutes. But of course it is possible to meet...

  • you'd wish you would not have to see...

    UXO is one of the reasons for Laos being so poor country. It takes painfully slow to safely remove them, and still today many people get handicaped or killed by them. On bomb and land mines infested land you cannot do anything, but people risk their life in order to grow some agriculture there usually becuase they have no other place.UXOs are found...

  • essentials to know before planning...

    On the link given here from NGO ElefantAsia there are few very imortant things to consider before you wish to do any elephant related activity like riding them or just seeing them. Despite their size they're very sensitive animal and they are very intelligent too and at times they can be also very dangerous. Everyone who has at least once in their...


    Although drugs seem to be freely available in some parts of the country if you are caught the minimum fine is $500 or jail time if you are caught with too much. The only people that are allowed to smoke opium are the hilltribes so be careful. Also be careful should you buy from a local as they may turn you in to the authorities.

  • mosquito nets

    We won't go into details what you can 'get from' mosquitos and unpleasnties related to the insect - but it's good to have a repellent with you, or handy mosquito net (though - you'll need to pack and construct it each time). Check in the room of your guesthose if they have screens or the net (not all have them, especially cheapest rooms) - or you...

  • be practical when travelling in Laos

    I often mention in forums that travelling by local/VIP buses or driving in Laos is generally safe but there are some concerns you might want to consider before you do your trip whether by bus or private car. The busiest road in the state is Road 13 which begins at China border and goes deep into South, but most traffic happens between Luang Prabang...

  • slash and burn is common practice

    In general there's nothing to worry about if you're tourist; the main problems related to slash and burn agriculture hit locals and wilderness. But you will notice it when travelling in dry season because it is just so obvious.When you travel North Laos many of hilly or mountainous areas have been cleared off the forest by giant fires. This is...

  • Don't let them get away with it.

    I was not quite sure what category to place this tip in but I thought it best fitted here.This is a tip about a very distasteful subject but I am of the opinion that burying your head in the sand will not make it go away. I have mentioned elsewhere on VT that Lao is the 23rd most impoverished country in the world and, inevitably, poverty brings...

  • Be careful of scams and tourist...

    I would say more systematic headache is the rampant foreigner cost or everything. Granted, it may only be a few dollars here and there, but it adds up quickly over time. And yes, it is still SE Asia, so costs are much less than developed western countries.Knowing the real value and cost is irrelevant if they think you can pay more. Yes, its only a...

  • Don't get ripped off exchanging money

    When arriving in Laos from chang kong thailand by crossing the mekong, be very careful when exchanging money into loation kip upon arrival. Make sure you have an idea of the exchange rate and count the money you receive before leaving the currency exchange counter. The two people I was travelling with were shorted about the equivalent of 15USD...

  • Thefts from travellers in Northern Laos

    In 3 days I witnessed recently, 2 thefts from travellers undoubtedly by locals in Northern Laos. In Muang Kwai, at the boat/bus terminal, a traveller's camera was stolen when he put it down briefly. There were no travellers close enough to have stole it. According to some locals, this has happened before as has the next case: In Muang Ngoi,...

  • Choppy water and possible wet stuff

    If you are travelling by boat up river in Laos, there are patches of white water in many of the rivers. The boats are low in the water and lower when full of tourists plus bags (often). This means that the boats sometimes hit these patches causing water to come on to the boat. Bags do get wet. Protect your stuff with plastic bags at least.

  • slow boat from Huayxai

    We chartered a boat from Houayxai to Louang Namtha from a guest house (I could name it, but I think the problem is not limited to this GH). The trip was to take 2 days. On the second morning they told us that they would take us 1 hour further upriver, but that the levels were too low to go right to LN and that we would have to take a bus - at our...

  • Hospitals

    The medical system in Laos is very primative. It is recommended for you to purchase emergency medical insurance before you come here. I highly recommend this. If you get sick, you do not want to go to the hospital in Laos. Many hospitals don't have access to clean syringes and other medical equipment. If you do get sick in Vientiane, it is...

  • electricity

    Laos is not a modern country and you may have to expect breakdowns with utitlities, mostly electricity. When we were in Luang Prabang, our electricity went out a few times during the night. Only places that have a generator, will have reliable electricity. You may want to bring a torch or flashlight with you just in case.

  • Exchanging Money

    The currency is KIP. Only exchange what you need becasue once you leave Laos you will not be able to exchange KIP into any other currency.

  • Slowboats Versus Speedboats

    Boat travel is common in Laos as there are so many rivers. I traveled both by speedboat and slowboat when I was there. There are many postings and tips suggesting that speedboat travel can be dangerous. Yes, indeed, it could lead to some danger, more than traveling by the slowboats. To me, it was quite a thrill having to travel by speedboat from...

  • Especially for Asian Women

    Ladies beware. Especially Asian ladies. In Laos, I somehow still feel that Asian women traveling alone is still not entirely safe as many see you as a “weaker” being. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid dark places. In buses, try to sit next to a woman as my experience was that the men (esp in the North and mostly Chinese men, not the Laos...

  • Always Ask For Permission

    Always ask for permission if you intend to take photographs of the Lao People. They are generally camera-shy and if you do not ask for their permission, they get upset and unhappy.TIP : Always SMILE (and be sincere) when you ask for permission and be their friend.

  • bus times and turist tickets

    when u want to go travel down loas on a bus, don't bay ure ticket at an turist agentsy, just bay one on the bus station, its cheaper..this is for the local busses...and u need to go to the bus station on to one and a half hour before departure, the bus leaves when its full, doesnt matter if u have booked a seet..

  • a lot of lieches...

    when u are trekking in the jungle og laos u need to know that it is a lot of lieches there..and they will get on u..when we went for a trekk one day ous feets was just ceverd by eas a unbeliveble terrible experience...

  • Opium

    In some parts of Laos Opium is preety rife. Every man and his dog will ask you if you want some. I had an incredible but little sad experience where this cute little 8 years old girl came up to me an said "saibadee", i smilled at her then she reached into her pocket and pulled out some opium and aksed if i wanted some. I said no thanks so she went...

  • Happy shakes

    In vang vieng i had a few happy shakes. At the time they did very little but i was preety sick that night. Violently sick actually. There ususally cool and give an ok buzz but mine was a quite unhappy shake. I fealt really paranoid for the next few days. It tasted preety nice though and you can also try "happy pizza". Most bars sell them which is...

  • HWY 13

    They say that there have been rebel shootings on HWY 13 inbetween Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. We took the road by bus - no worries.

  • The Rain in Vientiane

    Unless you visit at the peak of the dry season, be ready for some dramatic rain in Vientiane. Even with an umbrella, you'll be soaked to the waist, and the streets have mudstreams going down. But it's very atmospheric, if not especially refreshing.

  • beware of rickety bridges

    But when you have to navigate an old rickety bridge after partying with your new friends, it can present problems, especially in the pitch black darkness that is a Laos night.

  • after meeting fellow travelers....

    Sometimes, a brief stop for a beer and sunset turns into a multi-hour party when you run into some fellow travelers. That is not a problem in and of itself.

  • Slash and burn

    During the dry months (roughly between March and June) the air in the mountain regions of Laos can be quite hazy, due to slash-and-burn agriculture.If you're serious about photography, these months are probably not the best time to visit.

  • Road Safety

    Over the past years Laos has had some rebel activity coming out of the N. Most think it is the Hmong fighting the current Lao gov. These attacks have been on local buses along routes between Luang Prabang-Vang Vieng. Some reports also have come out as to problems out near Phonsavan (Plain of Jars) I traveled by minivan on some of these routes with...

  • Still not safe between Kasi and...

    There have been atacks during 2003 on vehicles travelling betwen Kasi and Phonsavan, at a rate of one every two months. This is a very risky road.In addition the road to the south of Xieng Khoun also remained dangerous in 2003.(All this info from the Auberge des Plein des Jars in Phonsavan)

  • Americans be aware

    Finally one advise: more than half of the population in the Xieng Kouang region was killed in the 60's and 70's in the war between the Patet Lao (the ones who won the war) , the Northvietnamese army, Hmong rebels armed and trained by the us and financed by drugs-money, and special forces who shouldn't be in Laos according to international...

  • Inside a Lao Hospital

    The crash left my buddy pretty sore and we decided to seak out some rural medical help. The hospital was housed in what looked like an open air schoolhouse and paitents were housed in close quarter, boiling hot rooms. That's not exactly the idea enviroment for improving your health. None the less we waited our turn and he was eventually treated by...

  • fast boat

    I always used a slow boat for my excursions, and, during my wandering along the Mekong I had the chance to see some fast boats, they look like small water motobike, they are incredibly fast, noisy and disturbing, you have to wear your safe jaket and your helmet, and for sure, you won't even understand that you are in a river, missing the sounds,...

  • Toilets

    In most of the hotels and public places you will find this kind of toilets consisting in just a hole on the ground.A good alternative if you are not very happy with these or not used to them is to go into some luxury hotel and use their "western" toilets.Oh, and bring your toilet paper too, water is used to clean after in most of them!

  • Beer Lao

    Is seriously addictive.As a fan of English beers I usually dislike all foreign lager. This one is good though. Seriously good. Not really a lager at all. Quite bitter and not too fizzy. A couple of cold ones goes down quite nicely. The only thing to drink in Laos unless you are tee total

  • Slow Boat From Huay Xai to Luang Parbang

    Beware the big con man in the boat! While you travel slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang.A Laos man claim himself work for the government and ask you to buy boat ride insurance, if you refuse to buy, he will threaten you and say will call the police to come. We refused, in the end he walked away and never came back cos the boat was move.Is up...

  • pickpockets and camera snatchers

    Laosmay look absolutely safe to you but thieves do exist, so always keep yout valuables upon you. Someone I was travelling with for a few days had her expensive camera stolen while we were having dinner (this was in Luang Prabang) but while reading newpapers I found that that there were similar cases in Vang Vieng and Vientiane, too.Should this...

  • Visiting the Dragon

    Opium can be procured in Vang Vieng and there are a number of dens operating in this town. Most of the dealers are Vietnamese or local Lao boys but don't be under the assumption that partaking in a bowl of "O" is legal in is not and a number of Westerners have been caught by the Lao police who were more than happy to relieve them of their...

  • fast boats along the mekong River

    Fast boats have the reputation of being dangerous. They travel very fast - from Huay Xhay to Luang Prabang they take about 9-10 hours (18 with a slow boat). fast boats are tiny - they carry about 6 passengers, and very noisy and bumpy. You are given a life-vest and a helmet to wear - and for a good reason: apparently every year several people are...

  • Currency Exchange. I was told...

    Currency Exchange. I was told to use Thai baht for all my purchases in Laos, but I wish I would've made an exchange before I left (you can also exchange cash in Laos, assuming you don't show up in the middle of the night like I did). Laos people didn't want baht at all for small purchases and I always got change in Laos kip - keeping track of the...

  • While in Luang Prabang, my...

    While in Luang Prabang, my friend (aka Borderhopper) and I decided to rent a motorbike to get ourselves around. The fact that neither of us had ever ridden one seemed like a minor detail at the time. On our way to Kuang Si Falls, inexperience caught up with us. My friend must have shifted into the wrong gear or something. Before I could say 'Oh...

  • Make sure you ask about road...

    Make sure you ask about road conditions before setting off to a new destination in laos, especially in the rainy season. most roads in the north are pretty rough and you'll want to be prepared. i saw more than one overturned truck in a ravine...

  • Mines!

    You actually can come across mines and bombs from the Vietnam war still laying around in the jungle. See posters teaching about this.

  • No money changer will accept...

    No money changer will accept Laos Kips, that's a warning hahaha. Do you believe I still have about 70,000 kips in my collection of foreign money? I have to spend it before I leave Laos, my friend told me but I forgot to spend the remaining 70,000 kips, so they are into my collection of travels. Anyway it my money warning.

  • in Western Laos where the...

    in Western Laos where the majority of the cities are located there aren't many unusual hazards but once you head out into the more unpopulated eastern side be very careful of where you walk. There are still many land mines that are active here and continuing on into Cambodia. If you aren't sure don't risk it.


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Laos Warnings and Dangers

Reviews and photos of Laos warnings and dangers posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Laos sightseeing.
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