Healthcare & Safety Tips in Laos

Healthcare & Safety Tips in Laos

Only a strong health can bring you a wonderful travel. Laos is located in the tropical area which is considered an ideal condition for epidemics and viruses. It is also the developing country where the safety of foods and drinks, and living environment can be hardly controlled or guaranteed. Therefore, follow some healthcare and safety tips below will keep you safe and perfect your Laos tour.

Healthcare Tips in Laos

The health situation in Laos remains very precarious. The country’s hospitals are still in lack of equipment. It is better to not get sick or have an accident, even if some progress has been made. Materials and drugs are often low-end or even doubtful (frequent counterfeits). To avoid problems that can take an extremely unpleasant experience, the following rules should be observed.

Healthcare Tips in Laos: Vaccines

No vaccination is required for travelers from Europe. But vaccinations are strongly advised. “Universal” vaccinations, even more, are useful there.

vaccine in laos health care and safety tips laos tours

Diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough: a reminder every 15 years for people who have had regular follow-up of their recalls.

Hepatitis A: absolutely essential. After the first injection (protective 15 days later, to almost 100%), a second injection made 6 to 18 months later very likely results in immunity for life.

Typhoid: essential, except perhaps for a very short stay in the capital. There is also a combined hepatitis A + typhoid vaccine.

Rabies: pay attention to dogs, often carriers of the disease. The symptoms do not appear before 10 to 15 days, but the outcome is always fatal. The vaccine can be delivered by any pharmacist and the three injections can be performed by any doctor.

In case of a bite, wash the wound immediately with plenty of soap. Then contact urgently the consulate that must be able to deliver (or advise you a pharmacy that does not sell counterfeit) doses of vaccine or you repatriate in an emergency.

Be careful, even when you have already been vaccinated, you need to have the booster injected as quickly as possible and then another dose 24 hours later.

Japanese encephalitis: it is rife permanently. It is a serious illness. Vaccination is more recommended if rural stay will be long, especially in paddy areas.

Healthcare Tips in Laos

Travel Insurance, Pharmacy Kit, and Hygiene

Take compulsory travel insurance which covers the costs of hospitalization, repatriation, etc. When we know the precariousness of the country’s hospitals, and the cost of 1 hour of flight, this insurance is really essential. Do not go to Laos if you are not in good health. In case of necessity, even for a benign problem, you will quickly realize that we are alone, especially if you are in the countryside.

Basic medicine kit: it must include dressings, skin disinfectant, paracetamol, antidiarrheals, anti-nausea, oral rehydration sachets and, possibly, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, to be used only following authorized opinion.

General hygiene and food: all the universal precautions are to be applied to the article. Beware of traditional cuisine, delicious but very spicy. “Bô phet” is the expression to be used to ask for a non-spicy dish. Be sure to wash your hands to prevent intestinal infections (for example, hydroalcoholic lotions, practical, can be bought before departure), monitor scratches and other, avoid walking on barefoot.

Risks and Precautions

Same risks in Laos as in Cambodia for dengue, intestinal problems related to food, and the same recommendations for animal stings and bites, sun, and bathing. Knowing that fever in a tropical environment is treated primarily with paracetamol tablets, except if it is malaria.


Laotian malaria is one of the toughest in the world, mainly in the northeast, near the Cambodian border. For some areas of Laos, only doxycycline or Malarone are effective in prevention. Consult your doctor before departure.

malaria healthcare and travel tips laos tours

The maximum precautions must be applied. As soon as the sun sets, wear clothing covering the maximum body surface; on remaining parts, use abundantly effective mosquito repellent DEET 50%. It is advisable to renew the application frequently. Impregnated mosquito nets are the best protection, with the impregnation of clothes. (soak your clothes before departure, effective several weeks).


Never consume unboiled water unless it is bottled mineral water. Beware of ice cubes outside the hotels and restaurants of the cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Industrial (safe) ice has a cylindrical hole in the middle; often we will suggest you refresh your glass of beer but sometimes they are charged!

Avoid crushed ice in fruit juices and other drinks bought in street stalls. It is often ground in dubious conditions. Caution!

In tourist areas, there is everywhere mineral water, tea, beer, soda. On the other hand, for a rural stay, it is recommended to purify the water thanks to a pocket ultrafiltration straw at 0.01 micron, which, through 5 stages of filtration, traps absolutely all parasites, viruses and bacteria with a capacity of 2000 liters of purified water.

Safety Tips in Laos

Overall, Laos is a country without problems. Before departure, we advise any way to inquire with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of your nation in Vientiane. The usual precautions when traveling are taken here as elsewhere: close your hotel room before going out, do not leave your belongings, avoid leaving your wallet, etc. Laotians are generally unobtrusive, and one is not bothered or solicited for any reason whatsoever.

Safety Tips in Laos: “Curfew”

Officially, these are measures to fight against alcoholism among young people, but Laotians start drinking at 17h instead of 19h. Unofficially, there are several interpretations a little nebulous, a political “priority”. As a result, the bars and restaurants close at around 11 pm, while the boxes are allowed by midnight! Some establishments in the capital open until around 1 am or more. Suffice to say that the nights are calm, at least externally.

Safety Tips in Laos: Routes

Almost maintained on the main roads, along with the Mekong in particular, they are particularly battered elsewhere, and often reduced to the state of tracks when they sink in the countryside or in the forest. The real problems lie in the virtual absence of medical and hospital infrastructure outside Vientiane, and therefore to possible road accidents. We must be honest: if you happen to have a serious accident requiring an emergency, outside Vientiane, all you have to do is rely on Providence. This is only a subscription to a necessary travel insurance revealing all its usefulness. Most of the time, an evacuation to a Thailand hospital will be organized.

Safety Tips in Laos: Tuk-Tuk

Some malicious drivers will try to drive you to the addresses where they earn a commission or try to impose an exorbitant rate. Be firm!

tuk tuk healthcare and safety tips laos tours

Safety Tips in Laos: Snatch

In Vientiane and Luang Prabang, if you rent a bike, do not put your things in the basket in front of the handlebars. Some snatch flights may happen, it is better to put your bag over your shoulder.

Safety Tips in Laos: Bathing

Swimming in the Mekong is not recommended, even if you are a good swimmer. The river bed is indeed unpredictable. That said, swimming is possible on some beaches of 4,000 islands in the south of the country, providing you go safely. With the construction of the dams on the Nam Khan and Nam Ou rivers, it is strongly discouraged to swim. Most of the time, water is released without warning and the level can rise sharply. Do not soak in stagnant water or rivers with low flow, because of the risk of schistosomiasis.

Safety Tips in Laos: Drug

Basic attitude: DO NOT TOUCH IT.

Laos is one of the world’s largest opium producers. In the north of the country, poppy cultivation is an important source of income for farmers. In Laos, the use of opium is neither frankly forbidden nor really tolerated. As in all South-East Asian countries, heroin is present, but yaba (methamphetamine) is today the most abused drug. Very affordable, it is not less formidable, extremely addictive and causing serious health and society problems. Products of poor quality also circulate or blended with toxic substances, which resulted in the death by poisoning of a number of young travelers.

opium in laos

Indian hemp (marijuana or ganja) is widespread. It is sold discreetly in all markets because it is used in cooking, in particular, chicken soups. All its substances are also sometimes sold to the West by informers who risk a portion of the fine: at least $ 500 in cash, but this can be much more serious, since the law severely punishes the consumption and, especially, the detention of the narcotics, whatever the crime, the criminal may be sentenced to the death penalty, in theory. On the other hand, remember that any transport of drugs to Thailand and other countries in the region is banned.

Safety Tips in Laos: Sexuality

Prostitution is in development, without influence the proportions of the neighbor country. In most Laotian nightclubs and bars, ladies of the night are indeed beautiful and present. What to do if we are approached? In our opinion, it is better to abstain. On the one hand, because of the behavior of some backpackers, the government report the tourist openness. On the other hand, because of the spread of AIDS in Laos, it is obvious that we must go out.

laos bar

That said, Laotians are not prudish so meetings are always possible. And nothing interdicts to experience a beautiful love story, but be careful, you may be asked to celebrate the wedding ceremony very quickly, as, from the legal point of view, relations outside of marriage with a Laotian are not allowed. In case of an offense, the passport confiscated, a fine (minimum $ 1,000) and a prison sentence are provided.