Whenever you are traveling overseas, there are certain precautions you can take to ensure a safe and hassle-free trip. This is true for staying safe in Laos too, even though it is a friendly and welcoming country.
Located in Southeast Asia, Laos is a great destination for solo female travelers. In fact, reports of harassment or crime against women are rare. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind.
Follow the advice below and you’re sure to have an enjoyable and enriching stay in Laos.
Staying Safe In Laos – Top Tips
Keep Your Personal Belongings Safe
Laos is a safe country and crime against tourists isn’t common. However, as a foreigner, you should stay alert and keep an eye on your possessions when traveling around.
It’s a good idea to carry some Laos currency with you as you travel around as card payment isn’t available everywhere, just be sure to store it in a secure money belt rather than a backpack or purse.
Don’t tempt opportunistic thieves by keeping your cell phone in your back pocket and it’s best to avoid wearing jewelry. You might also consider taking a small padlock or cable to keep valuables safe in your hotel room.
Make a copy of your passport, Laos visa, and any other important documents you have in the unlikely event that they do get lost or stolen.
Plan in Advance and Join Tour Groups
If you’re traveling alone, it’s highly recommendable to make an itinerary and give someone back home a copy. You’ll feel much more relaxed if a friend or family member knows your whereabouts as you go about your travels.
Research where you want to see and book tours (or women-only tours) in advance. Not only are tour groups a safe way to explore Laos, but they also offer the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world to share your experiences with.
Before selecting a tour, check the online reviews left by other visitors, and always book through reputable operators.
Choose Modest Dress in Laos
The country is still largely traditional compared to other Southeast Asian destinations and this is reflected in Laotian customs and etiquette. For this reason, it’s important to be culturally sensitive, especially when it comes to choosing what to wear.
When packing your suitcase, bear in mind that Laotian women dress more conservatively than you may be used to. Women are expected to cover up their shoulders and knees, especially when visiting places of worship.
Instead of shorts and above the knee skirts or dresses, be sure to take long skirts, trousers or ¾ length trousers. For tops, make sure the sleeves cover your upper arm.
A lightweight scarf or pashmina can be used to cover your shoulders if necessary. You should also pack some comfortable shoes suitable for lots of walking.
If you’re not sure what to wear, look at how the local women are dressed and go for something similar.
Although people in Laos are generally tolerant and increasingly used to seeing foreigners, you’ll feel more comfortable and can avoid causing offense if you dress similarly.
Traveling Around Laos Solo
One great way to get around Laos safely is by bicycle. Bikes can be rented in towns and cities and offer the solo tourist great flexibility.
Another speedy way to cover short distances is by tuk-tuk auto rickshaw, although it may not be available much longer. If you’re going to use one, make sure you agree on a price before you set off so you don’t end up being overcharged.
To cover long distances in Laos, one of the safest and most convenient options is to hire a private car with a driver. Most hotels and guesthouses can arrange this for you.
Alternatively, to be time-efficient you can use a VIP night bus. These double-decker coaches are equipped with bunk beds so you can sleep during the journey and wake the next morning at your destination.
When traveling alone we recommend paying double so you don’t have to share your bunk with a stranger.
Staying Fit and Healthy in Laos
Visit your doctor around eight months before departure to get the recommended vaccinations for Laos. In addition, stay up to date with the latest health advisories.
It’s a good idea to take any medication you may need with you in its original packaging as it may be hard to find once you get there.
Remember that many areas of Laos are hot and humid throughout the year. Cover up, apply sunscreen, and drink plenty of bottled water.
Insect bites can also be an issue, so wear repellent and consider investing in a mosquito net for your bed. And as always, it’s a good idea to have a travel first aid kit with you.
Food Safety in Laos: What to Avoid
When it comes to food and drink, only eat food that has been prepared and cooked recently and peel all fruit. Avoid foods washed in tap water such as salads and don’t have drinks with ice cubes.
At street food markets, buy from the vendors that attract the most locals as this is the best sign of quality.
You should also take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover any emergencies and enjoy staying safe in Laos with even greater peace of mind.