Travel Safe in Laos
Laos is one of the safest countries to visit. The country is peaceful, the people are friendly, and the air is fresh. Full of people with relaxed attitude to life, Laos is a relaxing country to live in and to visit.
Laos is the 45th most peaceful country in the world according to the 2017 Global Peace Index. Out of the rest of South East Asia, Laos only ranks lower than Malaysia and Singapore. This sends a clear signal that the country is a safe to live in and safe country to visit.
Despite this fact, nowhere in the world that is hundred percent safe and Laos is no exception. A little bit of common sense and some sensible precautions can go a long way toward keeping you well in check when it comes to your personal health and safety
Also it is recommended that you follow any particular warnings your own country has issued at a particular time. Check the internet for traveller advice from embassies or consulates.
Here are some tips to travel safe in Laos:
- Do not venture into less travelled paths or unknown territory such as remote jungles. You might risk stumbling upon UXO. As you might know Laos was heavily bombed by the Americans during the Indochina war from 1964-1973. Although the UXO have been cleared from most major tourist destinations, there are still very many “un-cleared” areas in many provinces of Laos.
- When in Laos, always conduct yourself within the bounds of its law. Offences such as dealing drugs, rape or treason can incur the death sentences. There are also heavy penalties for drug possession and use, so if offered drugs by locals, such as opium, do not buy it or use it as you may be reported to the police by the seller.
- Sex tourism is illegal in Laos and child-sex tourism is a serious crime, avoid it at all cost.
- Always carry your passport if you're a tourist or an ID card if you're living here in Laos. Tourists are seldom checked, but you never know when the police will approach you. If you fail to provide your identification you risk running into troubles.
- Carry your driving licence if you drive.
- Always wear helmets when riding motorcycles or bikes, traffic sense is not that great in this country and there are a lot of accidents.
- Avoid traveling on the roads during holiday periods such as Lao New Year
- Don't go wandering aimlessly alone through a town or city late at night
- Avoid back streets when commuting at night as most of them are dark, and are often places that muggers focus on.
- Put your valuables such as money, credit card and your passport in a money pouch and keep it concealed under your clothing.
- If you are riding a bicycle do not put valuable items in your basket, there have been incidences of drive-by theft. Make sure they are on your person.
- Laos is a tropical country where dengue fever that is caused by mosquitoes is common. Avoid mosquito bites and you will be fine. Bring mosquito repellent with you or buy some in Laos, it is cheap and available in all markets and pharmacies. Wear light coloured clothing with long sleeves and make sure you are covered well at night. Dengue mosquitoes bite in the day, so if you have an afternoon nap, make sure you sleep under a net. In fact nets are a good idea at all times, particularly if you are travelling in the country.
- Usually water and ice-cubes that are served to you in restaurants in the cities are safe for consumption. However, tap water in Laos is not safe to drink. Locals in remote areas of Laos drink water from wells or rivers; some boil their drinking water some don't. When/if they offer you water, politely accept it, but you don't have to drink it.
- Even though bottled water is reasonably cheap and readily available everywhere in town, it might not be the case in the remote areas. It is wise to buy some in town and carry with you if you travel out to such areas.
- Carry some snacks when traveling to remote areas in Laos as you might not spot any restaurant on your way.
- Avoid any food that you think has been cooked for a long time and has been sitting around (such as grilled meats in markets). Always opt for freshly cooked food or soup.