You can get to Laos by land, air and river from Cambodia, China, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam. Airlines flying to Laos include Bangkok Airways, Thai, Viet Nam Airlines, Lao Central Airlines and Lao Airlines.
Laos International Airports:
Wattay International Airport - Vientiane.
Luang Prabang International Airport - Luang Prabang.
Pakse International Airport - Champasack.
Savannakhet Airport - Savannakhet.
Many Tour and Bus companies schedule services to and from Laos, and some include boat travel from Thailand to Laos.
Visitors need a passport with at least six months validity.
Thirty-day visas are available from Lao Embassies and Consulates. Visa holders can enter Laos from Cambodia at Veun Kham.
A 30-day visa on arrival may be obtained by most passport holders at international border crossings. Who can get Visa on arrival?
Botene in Luang Namtha ~ Laos-China
Na Meo in Houaphan ~ Laos-Vietnam
Namkhan in Xieng Khouang ~ Laos-Vietnam
Nam Phao in Bolikhamxai ~ Laos-Vietnam
Na Phao in Khammouane ~ Laos-Vietnam
Dene Savan ~ Laos-Vietnam
Thakhaek in Khammouane ~ Laos-Thailand
Houeisai in Bokeo ~ Laos-Thailand
Dan Savanh in Savannakhet ~ Laos-Thailand
Vang Tao in Champassak ~ Laos-Thailand
* A note from our users - Foreigners (non-Thais or Laotians [non-Laotians?]) are not allowed to use the ferry across from Mukdahan to Savannakhet. Must use the Friendship 2 bridge.
Most travel in Laos is uneventful, however a large proportion of the roading is un-paved and some is usually damaged in the wet season. This can lead to delays in bus and car travel. The more remote stretches of road can require four wheel drive vehicles. North-South and East-West roads are sealed, There is regular bus service to all provincial and district capitals.
Domestic air services are usually reliable though flights have been known to be cancelled abruptly.
River travel is often taken in the company of local residents and depending on the traveller's comfort level with water, can be rewarding or worrying in equal measures. A ferry service is available at Houeixai (Bokeo), Thakhaek (Khammouane) or Dan Savanh (Savannakhet). It's a short ferry ride across the Mekong River to Laos.
Crossing from Chiang Khong in northern Thailand to Houeixai, it is possible to travel directly to Luang Prabang on the Mekong. Heading north to Luang Namtha is a two-day journey on the Namtha River, passing through forest and an overnight stop.
There is a boat service on the Mekong, from Pakse to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Vat Phou, through the Four Thousand Islands.
Road rules do exist in Laos. The vast majority of drivers, ride 'motos', 100~125cc scooters or motorbikes and have no license or any form of training. Cars and trucks have similar drivers. Nominally, vehicles drive on the right of the road, traffic lights are to be obeyed and seat belts or helmets are worn. In practise it's a free for all. Unless there's a policeman in attendance. Motos, especially, will drive where they will, traffic lights will be ignored on a whim, no-one wears seatbelts and whilst it appears a lot of moto drivers are wearing helmets for safety, its for protection from the sun, the chin-straps are not used and the helmets come off after dark.
This can be harrowing for a Western trained driver. One saving grace is that in the cities, everyone travels at 20~30 km/h, so whilst accidents do happen, they are not usually fatal. On the open road, everyone will want to overtake everyone and opposing traffic will flash their headlights as a signal for you to get out of the way, into a ditch if neccessary. Care must be taken if renting a car or driving a private vehicle.