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Laos Travel Requirements

Visas, Entry Requirements, Vaccinations, Money, Safety


Laos Travel

Vang Vieng in Laos

Image © Greg Rodgers, licensed to About.com

Visa Requirements for Laos

A visa for Laos is required for all foreign visitors except those from Southeast Asia and Japan.

All visitors must have a passport valid for at least six months after entry into Laos. The visa for Laos requires a full page in your passport.

Visa on Arrival

Laos provides a visa on arrival for most nationalities at all ports of entry including airports and popular land-border crossings.

The Laos visa on arrival duration was recently extended from 15 days to 30 days.

  • A visa on arrival is valid for 30 days after entry.
  • A blank page is required for the visa stamp.
  • You must provide two passport-sized photos for the application.
  • The application fee for a visa on arrival is US $35.
  • A departure tax of US $10 applies when flying out of Laos. Some carriers include the departure tax in the price of the ticket.

If possible, pay the visa application fee in exact change with US dollars. Lao Kip and Thai Baht are accepted, but you may pay more for the currency exchange.

Note: If you are entering Laos from Thailand, decline the numerous offers by guest houses and agents to handle your visa application in Nongkhai - most of these services are scams.

Applying for a visa on the "Friendship Bridge" between Laos and Thailand is painless and can be done in person.

Getting a Visa for Laos in Advance

If you wish to remain within Laos for longer than 30 days, consider applying for a visitor's visa from a consulate office in Southeast Asia or at the Lao embassy in your home country.

Application fees differ, but you may be granted up to a 60-day stay. Having a visa before arrival also means that you may bypass some of the queues at the border.

Laos has consulates located all over Southeast Asia including: Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

To contact the Lao Embassy in the US:

Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic
2222 S St. NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202-332-6416

Visa Extensions for Laos

Visitors can apply for a visa extension at the Department of Immigration office in Vientiane. Tourist Visas may be extended up to an additional 60 days at a cost of US $2 a day.

Never overstay your visa - visitors that overstay risk arrest and will be fined US $10 for each day!

Required Vaccinations for Laos

There are no required vaccinations for Laos. However, proof of Yellow Fever immunization is required for visitors arriving from infected areas (parts of Africa and South America).

Malaria is a serious risk in Laos and the usual travel immunizations for typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, polio, and tuberculosis are highly recommended.

Customs Regulations for Laos

You must declare currency worth over US $2000 and any antiques that you may be carrying into Laos.

Money in Laos

The official currency of Laos is the Kip, but you will find that US dollars in small denominations are accepted (and preferred) all over the country.

Credit Cards are rarely accepted outside of tourist resorts and a commission for using them will usually be added to the bill. Traveler's Checks can be exchanged in banks in major cities for a fee.

ATM machines that dispense Lao Kip can be found in tourist areas. Lao Kip is useless outside of Laos, so make sure to exchange all of your money before exiting the country.

Note: If you choose to exchange currency, never accept torn or damaged notes - they will be impossible to spend!

Travel Safety in Laos

Drugs: Although drugs are widely available in Vang Vieng and other tourist areas, they are illegal and are punishable by death!

Crime: Violent crime is not much of a problem in Laos, but petty theft occurs - always mind your bags while traveling.

Land mines: There are still land mines in parts of Laos - always stay on marked trails and walk with a guide. Never handle a mysterious object found outdoors.

Bus travel: The mountainous terrain in central Laos makes bus travel at night especially dangerous. Choose buses that take advantage of the daylight by leaving earlier in the morning.

Boat Travel: The notorious "fast boat" between Laos and Thailand is a test of nerves for both driver and passengers. The lower water levels during the dry season (December to April) make speed boat travel even more hazardous.

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