Laos is an extremely beautiful and picturesque country with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Over 15,000 Australians visit Laos every year, and this number is growing as basic tourist infrastructure improves and travellers pass on their experiences to others. Many visitors comment favourably on the warm, hospitable, and friendly reception they have received in Laos.
Travellers and residents in Laos are strongly encouraged to register with the Australian Embassy and read the travel advice for Laos produced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Drugs in Laos - Don't do it!
Penalties for taking or possessing illegal drugs in Laos are severe, and include capital punishment and life imprisonment. Conditions in Lao jails are extremely difficult.
Australian travellers are strongly advised to let others know their travel itinerary and maintain regular contact with relatives and friends. Internet cafes are available in most centres visited by travellers and there are mobile phone networks throughout the country.
Entry Requirements for Australians visiting Laos.
Tourist visas valid for 30 days can be obtained on arrival at Vientiane and Luang Prabang International Airports, and at the Friendship Bridge between Nong Khai Thailand and Vientiane Laos. Passport photographs are required for a visa on arrival. All other crossing points require a valid Lao visa already in the passport, which must be obtained from a Lao Embassy abroad. Tourist visas may be extended for 30 days at the Bureau of Immigration (Bureau of Aliens and Foreigners Protection) opposite the morning market in Lane Xang Ave, Vientiane. Fines for overstaying are imposed, they can be paid at the Bureau of Immigration or at the Friendship Bridge on departure. Fees apply for visas.
Lao Immigration require passports to have at least 6 month's validity remaining. Travellers have been refused entry into Laos when holding passports with less than 6 month's validity.
Travellers are reminded to check their passports, when entering and leaving
Laos, to ensure they have received a correctly dated entry/exit stamp. Penalties can apply for entering Laos without an entry stamp and for crossing the border at non authorised crossing points.
Vehicles can be temporarily imported into Laos. The conditions on entry vary from time to time and at the various border crossings. If your plans include temporarily importing a vehicle into Laos you should bring all documentation related to ownership and registration. Vehicles must be insured in Laos. Insurance can be obtained at AGL offices at or near most international border crossings.
The banking system in Laos is not as developed as it is in Australia and travellers can often be left without sufficient funds.
Medical facilities in Laos are not of the same standard as in Australia. There are limited services throughout the country and even minor ailments may necessitate evacuation to neighbouring countries.
While marriage between foreigners and Lao citizens is permitted there are a range of regulations that need to be followed. Sexual relationships between foreigners and Lao citizens who are not legally married are not permitted. Penalties for failing to register a relationship range from US$500 to 5,000 and possible imprisonment for both parties and deportation.