Population: 6.758 million
Official language: Lao
Time zone: Indochina Time (ICT)
Emergency #: 1195
Vaccinations required: Yes
Risk of malaria: Yes
Laos (officially known as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic) includes popular travel destinations such as Luang Prabang, Si Phan Don, Vang Vieng, Vieng Xai, Vientiane and Champasak.
The standards for patient care and medical services in Laos may differ from your home country. Laos has both public and private health sectors but medical facilities are limited. Basic medical care is available in Vientiane but healthcare services are not well-equipped outside of the capital. Professional treatment and medication for a mental health emergency can be difficult to access.
In the event of a medical emergency, contact your travel health insurance company immediately. Hospitals typically require upfront payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance in place. Due to limited healthcare services, medical evacuation by road or air to Thailand is common for both physical and mental health emergencies. You should ensure you have accessible funds to cover upfront fees and adequate travel health insurance and evacuation coverage to reimburse you and cover any additional medical costs. Before you depart, check with your insurer about the extent of their coverage in Laos.
Larger cities generally have well-stocked pharmacies, but staff dispensing medication may be untrained. Avoid purchasing medication from markets and unlicensed pharmacies, as fake medication is a common problem.
If you are travelling with medication, check with the Lao embassy, consulate, or Ministry of Health for details on medication allowances and restrictions. If your medication is a narcotic or psychotropic, you can review the country's regulations on the International Narcotics Control Board. Note that these sources may provide incomplete or out-of-date information.
Laos has a moderately high traffic-related mortality rate. Traffic tends to be chaotic and public transport can be unreliable and unsafe, as vehicles are not maintained to safety standards. Road conditions are poor and many vehicles do not have lights. Although the national seat belt law only applies to drivers, all passengers of a vehicle should wear their seat belt at all times.
Before you go, check the list of vaccines and relevant health risks for Laos. For personalized advice, check out our Travel Health Planner to get health information that’s tailored to all the destinations on your itinerary:
IAMAT-affiliated doctors are available in Laos.