When is the best time to visit Laos?
Laos has varied climatic conditions in different regions of the country. However, the climate is hot and tropical in most parts of the country. During the hottest season between March and May, temperatures can reach the high 80s, so at this time Laos travel is only recommended for a limited area. In the dry season of December and January, it can be quite cool with temperatures in the 50s. The tropical monsoon or the rainy season is between May and November.
In Laos, there are three different seasons and all have their advantages and disadvantages. The best time to travel for Laos is the cooler season between November and February.
It is largely dry through the country at this time, though be prepared that it can get quite chilly up in the north. Water levels are usually high at this time, making it a river cruise a good option. But expect temperatures to drop, especially early morning and night time, so carry plenty of layers!
- Take a Mekong Delta cruise from Pakse that will take you through the Wat Phu ruins, a hidden forest temple, the “4000 Islands” to the Pha Pheng Waterfalls!
- Visit the city of Savannakhet and enjoy its old-world charm. Apart from various excursions, the city is known for the famous Ing Hang Stupa where the Buddha’s bones are reportedly buried
Conditions remain largely dry, pleasant, much like the weather in January.
- Head to the sleepy town of Nong Khiawand immerse yourself in its scenic, serene rural Laos
- Witness spectacular sunsets, and enjoy an array of unusual and delicious cuisine in Thakhek
- Take a Luang Say Cruise from Luang Prabang, and see charming villages, colorful little markets
It continues to be dry in Laos, as the temperatures creep up – expect them to be in the early 30s in several parts, though it can still be warm in the northern parts of the country.
- Immerse yourself in the culture of the Bolaven Plateau with its dense jungles, waterfalls and authentic villages inhabited by different ethnic groups still maintaining their old traditions
- Visit the picturesque town of Nong Khiaw surrounded by mighty limestone cliffs
This is one of the hottest months – expect temperatures to cross 100°F in some parts of the country! Towards the end of the month, expect an odd shower or so as the monsoons approach. This is also slash and burn season so expect a fair amount of haze and smoke in the countryside. With low water levels, this is not a good time for any river travel.
- Stay in the hill-top resorts surrounding Phonsavan, the lively new capital of Xieng Khouang Province and admire its scenic beauty
- Head to the site of the mysterious Plain of Jars – scattered with clumps of large stone vessels, believed to be ancient funerary urns
Expect sunshine interspersed with short bursts of heavy rainfall during this month. It will still be warm so remember to carry your sunscreen and rain gear!
- If you want to relax, we recommend a visit to the hot springs of Muang La
It is hot and humid throughout the country with the rainy season in full flow. The general rule of thumb is: expect the rain to get heavier as you go higher!
- Head to Luang Namtha in Northern Laos, where it won’t be quite as rainy as the south. Traverse the lush outdoors – caves, waterfalls, jungles with multi-day trekking, mountain biking, and kayaking trips
- Gain an insight into the tribal lifestyle of the several ethnic communities living here by opting for a homestay experience
This is one of the wettest months in the country, so if you are visiting around this time, carry your rain gear!
- Head to the idyllic settlement of Hin Boun where you can visit nearby villages nearby for a glimpse into the daily life of ethnic minorities, or simply while away time watching life on the river as boats pass you by
This is peak rainy season, so expect the countryside to bathed in green! Temperatures usually average around 68°F around this time, but do note that due to the rain, traveling to some of the remote areas can get a bit tedious
- If you are in Luang Prabang around this time, sign up for a cooking class, and learn to make a slew of Laotian dishes
Expect the rains to continue through this month but gradually reduce towards the end of the month, with the end of the rainy season approaching.
- Spend time in the friendly and picturesque Muang La and visit its ancient wat – Ban Longya, with a large stone, claimed to have Buddha’s footprint
Sunshine makes a return this month as the rains continue to abate, though you can expect the odd shower. This is the start of high season, so a good time to head to Laos if you want to escape the rush in the next few months. Temperatures usually average in the early to mid 60s.
- Head to Pakse is the capital of Champasak, quaint riverside province and visit the Khmer ruins of Wat Phu (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
- Take a boat trip through the mysterious Kong Lor Cave for an unforgettable experience
This is one of the best months to visit Laos. The rains have abated, the weather is cool and dry, with temperatures in the high 60s, and the landscape is lush and green!
- In the early morning, watch the alms giving ceremony in the ancient royal capital of Luang Prabang. Hundreds of monks in bright yellow robes practice this ancient ritual every day
- From Luang Prabang, take a morning trip to the Kuang Si Waterfalls and visit the Pak Ou Caves
- Visit Xe Pian National Park for its Asian elephants, tigers, Malay bears and rare animal species such as the Malayan Shire, the Indian otter and numerous bird species
Expect dry, sunny days through the country, though temperatures can drop as you head towards the north.
- Head to Vang Vieng with its craggy karst limestone scenery, a smattering of caves, and crystal-clear pools and waterfalls, ideal for outdoor pursuits
- Enjoy the town’s range of bars and restaurants, as well as visit the organic farm for a taste of the locally-produced Mulberry Tea
- Spend time in the unhurried capital Vientiane, an interesting mix of Buddhist temples and French patisseries
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What to Pack for Laos
As a rule of thumb, visitors should know many Southeast Asians are conservative in their clothing. Western clothing is acceptable and is worn by many but in a modest fashion. While visiting shrines and religious places, visitors are recommended not to wear shorts, mini-skirts, vests, tanks, etc. Your knees and shoulders must be covered. Please avoid clothing with images of Buddha, as this is considered highly disrespectful.
The best footwear includes sandals, flip-flops and comfy walking shoes that can be taken off easily. Although it is acceptable to wear shoes when walking in the compound of the temple, you would be required to take them off before you enter the chapel where the main Buddha image is placed, as well as in pagodas and people’s homes.
If you are traveling to Laos during the dry season carry light clothes, cotton and linen, with a light jacket for mild evenings. A good sunscreen (SPF 30+) and sunglasses are also essential. During the rainy season, light clothes, sun protection, rain gear including an umbrella, a jacket and light-weight shoes are a must. In the cooler months, don’t forget to carry a warm jacket, and some light sweaters or layers, and a light woolen cap if you’d like additional protection.
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