Is It Safe To Visit Laos As A Tourist?

Laos is a wonderful country filled with natural beauty, delicious food and friendly people, despite this travellers still sometimes wonder ‘is it safe to visit Laos?’

This may be due to Laos still being relatively unknown to a lot of travellers who often travel to nearby countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.  

Don’t worry, this post is here to shed the light on if Laos is safe to visit.

So Is It Safe To Visit Laos?

  • In general, Laos is a very safe country to visit.
  • Crime levels are low and it’s unlikely you’ll experience any trouble whilst visiting Laos. The majority of visitors to Laos experience no issues at all.
  • There are a few things to watch out for, mainly pickpocketing and theft. I’ve also provided some essential safety tips to help minimise the risks of you getting into difficulties so read on to ensure you’re fully prepared. 
  • It’s also worth mentioning that the dangers/risks mentioned in this post are unlikely to happen so don’t worry too much. Just ensure you take basic precautions to keep yourself safe, as you would in any country that you visit.

Pickpocketing/Theft

  • Pickpocketing is an issue in most countries and Laos is no exception. Pickpocketing is a common occurrence especially in busy touristy areas. 
  • Be careful with your valuables, try to keep them out of sight as much as possible.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money, just take out as much as you need.
  • Try not to keep your money in your pocket, a concealed money belt is the safest option. 
  • There have also been some reports of random bag snatches being carried out by people on motorbikes. Carry your bag away from the roadside and try to keep valuables out of sight. 
  • Be particularly vigilant in busy markets, train stations and public transport. You should also try to keep an eye on your belongings at all times if you plan to travel on overnight buses/trains. Keep them secure if possible by using a padlock or cable lock. 

Terrorism

  • The risk of terrorism in Laos is incredibly low and there have been no terror attacks in Laos in recent history. 

Unexploded Mines

  • Laos was bombed heavily by US forces in the 1960s and 1970s, in fact, Laos is the most heavily bombed country in history.
  • Unfortunately, there are still many unexploded mines (also known as UXO) in Laos that kill around 50 people each year. 
  • As a tourist, this isn’t something you need to worry about as the main tourist centers were cleared of unexploded bombs a long time ago.
  • The only time you need to be wary of this is if you’re visiting remote forest areas.
  • Often any dangerous areas will be clearly signposted but I’d suggest sticking to the main roads and paths in any remote areas just to be on the safe side. 
  • Don’t touch any metal objects you see on the ground in these areas as this could be part of an unearthed bomb.
  • If you’re worried about this at any time, don’t venture off the main path and if you can, travel with a tour guide or someone who knows the area well.

Health Risks

  • Always check with your doctor before travelling to see if you need any vaccinations. 
  • Dengue and malaria are endemic in Laos. These are both transmitted by mosquitoes so you should take steps to try and prevent mosquito bites if you can such as purchasing mosquito repellent or a mosquito net

Malaria

  • Most of Laos is categorized as ‘low risk’ for malaria, this includes top tourist destinations such as Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.
  • The south of Laos is categorized as ‘high risk’ and antimalarial drugs are recommended.
  • If you will be travelling to the south of Laos, such as Pakse, you should speak with your doctor.
  • Check this map for the malaria risk levels across Laos.

Safety Tips For Visiting Laos

  • Always have a copy of your passport and visa on you. You may receive a fine if a police officer asks you for it and you don’t have it. It’s fine to have a copy and not the original, this avoids it getting stolen. 
  • Check with your doctor before travelling to ensure you’re up to date on your vaccinations. If you will be travelling to the south of Laos, ask about antimalarial drugs. 
  • To avoid petty crime, a concealed money belt is the safest option. Try not to take out too much money at once. 
  • It may be a good idea to purchase a padlock, chain or cable lock to ensure your valuables are always safe especially if you’ll be travelling on night buses. 
  • Be wary that hotel safes may not always be safe. You never know who has access to these. 
  • Travelling with a tour guide may make you feel more at ease. If you’re worried about the unexploded bombs but are interested in exploring a particular area, join an organised tour as the guides will know the safest areas. 

I would always suggest checking your countries foreign travel advice before travelling to Laos as this will be updated immediately if there are any safety concerns. 

As I live in the UK, I check gov.uk (Laos travel advice).


Thanks for reading this guide which discusses if Laos is safe to visit for tourists. 

I hope this highlighted some of the dangers in Laos and how to prevent them. Many of these points are applicable for many countries throughout the world and shouldn’t put a damper on your trip.

Laos is a very safe country to visit and you’ll be sure to have a wonderful trip. 

Happy Travels!