This packing list for Laos will help you plan to take the right clothing, footwear and other items to make your trip enjoyable in this fascinating, fast-developing country
Traveling Suitcase © elitatt
Our Laos packing list features everything you’ll need for your visit to Laos, from administrative documents to clothing, electronic gadgets, toiletries and more.
Essential Travel Items
Some of your most important travel preparation happens before you even start packing. From visas to document scans, make sure you’ve got all of the following items before you pack your suitcase.
- Travel Insurance – Medical care in Laos isn’t particularly advanced, meaning you might need to be evacuated to Thailand if you’re injured while travelling. As such, it’s essential that you buy reliable travel insurance before you travel.
World Nomads, which is recommended by Lonely Planet and several other travel guides, is a good insurance option that covers everything from medical care to lost luggage.
- Flights – Flights to Vientiane and Luang Prabang can fill up quickly, making it worth booking online ahead of time. You can check current ticket prices and availability on SkyScanner and save money by booking earlier than other travellers.
- Visa – Most visitors to Laos will need a visa to enter the country, with the exceptions of citizens of ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
- Tourist visas, which allow for a stay of up to 30 days, are available on arrival for $30 to $42 from all airports and land border crossings in Laos. You can also apply for a visa in advance at most Lao embassies and consulates. See the official Tourism Laos website for full details.
- Passport – You’ll need a passport with at least six months of remaining validity in order to enter Laos. Before you book everything, it’s also worth checking that you have a blank page for your Laos visa and entry/exit stamps. Protect your passport with a passport cover, which also doubles as a useful organiser for tickets etc
- Credit and Debit Cards – There are ATMs in all major cities in Laos, making it easy to withdraw Lao kip while you’re travelling. Just make sure you let your bank know you’re travelling to Laos to ensure your card isn’t flagged as potentially stolen and blocked. Be sure to spend all your Lao kip before you leave the country as it’s very difficult to exchange Lao kip for other currencies outside Laos.
- Travel Document Scans – Make sure you scan and store copies of your passport, flights, hotel bookings, insurance policy, driving license and other documents before you leave for Laos. These can come in handy while travelling and may be needed.
- There are two options for carrying copies of your documents. If you’re travelling with your smartphone, you can back them up in your photos folder or email account. If not, a clear document file with printed versions of your documents is an easy solution.
- Smartphone – There are 4 GSM networks in Laos, all of which offer local SIM cards for tourists. As such, it’s best to bring an unlocked smartphone from home and switch to a local SIM card while you’re in Laos to avoid roaming fees.
Note that connection speeds in Laos can be quite slow, meaning you’ll want to use your phone for basic tasks like instant messaging, maps and email rather than video calls or streaming.
- Power Bank – From long bus rides to day trips, you might run into situations where you can’t charge your phone for 12+ hours while in Laos. A power bank lets you keep your phone charged up when a power outlet isn’t available. As always, it’s worth checking your airline’s power bank capacity restrictions before you travel to make sure you don’t face any issues checking it into your carry-on luggage.
- Travel Adapter – Laos uses an unusual mix of type A, B, C, E and F outlets, making a travel adapter vital if you’ve brought any electronic gear with you. A universal adapter should let you plug in anywhere and charge or use multiple devices at once.
- Pocket Torch – Many areas of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and other Lao cities have unreliable or no lighting at night, meaning you’ll want to bring a keychain torch with you to make getting around after dark safer and easier.
- Amazon Kindle – If you’re travelling around Laos by bus, bringing an Amazon Kindle will help make the long bus journeys go by faster.
Clothing, Footwear and Accessories
- T-Shirts, Short and Other Light Clothing – Laos is warm and sunny most of the year, meaning you’ll want to pack t-shirts, shorts and other summer clothing. Since laundry services are cheap and readily available, four to five days worth of clothing is ideal.
- Jackets and Outerwear – While Laos is a warm country, it can get cold once the sun sets, particularly in the more mountainous area. If you’re visiting during the November to February cool season, it’s best to pack a lightweight jacket.
- Underwear – Just like Thailand, Laos is quite a humid country, making lightweight cotton underwear the way to go. Under Armour is a good option, especially if you’re planning on spending most of your time outdoors in the heat and humidity.
- Footwear – Hiking shoes are recommended for Laos, since footpaths here are a little on the rugged side. Brands like Merrell, Columbia and Keen all offer good quality shoes with more than enough support and comfort for Laos’ roads and hiking trails.
- Long Sleeved Tshirt and Trousers – You’ll need to cover up when visiting temples in Laos, making it worth packing at least one long sleeved shirt and a pair of full length trousers for temples and cultural sites.
- Swimwear – While there aren’t any beaches in Laos, some mid range and luxury hotels have swimming pools. Laos is a conservative country when it comes to swimwear, so it’s best to choose swimwear that offers a good amount of coverage.
- Hats and Sunglasses – Laos gets very sunny during the dry season, meaning you’ll want a good pair of sunglasses to cover your eyes. It’s best to bring these from home, as most sunglasses sold in Laos are cheap and of poor quality.
Luggage, Daypacks and Other Travel Items
- Suitcase or Backpack – If you’re visiting Vientiane or Luang Prabang, a small suitcase is more than enough for Laos. For backpackers, a 40L backpack offers plenty of space for your gear without weighing you down too much. Osprey is a good, reliable backpack brand – you want to make sure you get something good quality for the sake of your back.
- Daypack – If you go the suitcase route, it’s best to bring a daypack with you for day trips and exploring. A 15-20L daypack is the right size to carry your everyday items, a change of clothes and other useful gear while you’re out enjoying yourself.
- Travel Cubes – A set of travel cubes makes it much easier to sort your clothes and other items while packing, as well as making unpacking much easier once you check into your hotel room.
- Toiletry Bag – You’ll want a good toiletry bag while you’re in Laos, since most mid range and budget hotels won’t provide their own toothbrushes, toothpaste and other personal hygiene items.
- Travel Wallet – While Laos isn’t a particularly high crime country, it’s still worth keeping your cash and important documents safe. A travel wallet lets you store your essentials under your clothing and away from thieves in markets and other crowded areas.
- Laundry Bag – Bring a laundry bag or two so that you can separate your used clothing from your clean clothing when travelling and easily carry your dirty clothes to and from the local laundry shops.
- Laos Guidebook – Of the Laos guidebooks, Lonely Planet is the most comprehensive and up to date. It’s also worth bringing a Laos travel map, especially if you plan to get around Laos by bus.
Toiletries, Medication and Lightweight Items
- Toothbrushes, Toothpaste and Other Hygiene Essentials – All of these can be bought in Laos for similar prices to most Western countries, although it’s usually easiest to bring your own from home.
- Deodorant – While deodorant is available in Laos, the selection isn’t fantastic. Just like with other hygiene products, it’s best to bring enough deodorant for your trip from your home country.
- Mosquito Repellant – Mosquitos are a problem in Laos, especially in rural areas. There’s also a rising rate of dengue fever in many Lao cities. A bottle of DEET mosquito repellent will help keep insects away while you’re out and about in Laos.
- Tampons and Sanitary Pads – While sanitary pads are available in Laos, the selection is somewhat limited. Tampons are rarely used and not widely available in Laos, meaning you’ll want to bring an adequate supply from home.
- Sunscreen – Most parts of Laos get sunny during the daytime, making a bottle of SPF 30+ sunscreen essential if you want to avoid sunburn. It’s best to bring this from home, as many of the sunscreen brands sold in Laos contain skin whitening ingredients.
- Traveler Diarrhoea Treatment – Food poisoning is common in Laos, meaning you’ll want to either bring some Imodium with you. Alternatively, you can pick this up very cheaply at most Lao pharmacies.
- Tissues – Public restrooms in Laos often don’t have any toilet paper, making a packet of tissues essential if you’re travelling on buses or exploring the country. These are easy to buy in Laos from most convenience stores and supermarkets.
- Pens – Bring a ballpoint pen or two when you’re flying into Laos, as you’ll need to fill in an arrival form at the airport or land border crossing.
- Luggage Locks – Flying with checked baggage? A set of luggage locks will protect your bags from tampering and keep your possessions safe.
- Quick Dry Towel – If you’re visiting Vang Vieng or the Four Thousand Islands, it’s a good idea to pack a microfiber towel, which will let you dry off without weighing down your bag like a typical cotton beach towel.