Laos Country Guide

Stay Safe

When in Laos, it is important to always have your passport with you. Showing a copy of your passport and visa is usually acceptable, but acceptance depends very much on the Lao official that you are presenting it to. You may be asked to show your ID at any time, and a fine (100,000 kips) will be imposed if you do not or unable to produce the documentation on request.
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The judicial process in Laos remains at best arbitrary and, while you are unlikely to be hassled, your legal rights can be slim or non-existent if you are accused. Criticism of the Lao government or the Communist Party in any way, shape or form is unwise. Keep your political opinion to yourself since you may never know who might be listening.

Crime levels are low in Laos, although petty theft such as bag snatching is not unknown, which is on the rise given the inability of the authorities to prevent it. While unlikely to affect most tourists, Laos is one of the world's most corrupt countries and corruption is a big factor in many citizens' lives.

Samsenthai Avenue by eric molina

Drugs are a large problem in Laos and you should avoid it at all costs. Lao law makes little distinction between personal use and trafficking and any conviction will result in heavy fines and expulsion at best and imprisonment or even execution at worst. Methamphetamine is widespread and often offered in "special" or "happy" shakes along the backpacker trail. Be extremely cautious of tuk-tuk drivers offering to sell you drugs, as they often collaborate with the police or a police impersonator to "shake down" (USD500 is the common "fine") unsuspecting tourists. Keep in mind that often times Lao police dress as civilians.

Landmines & Unexploded Ordnance
Landmines and unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War maims or kills hundreds of people every year as Laos is the most bombed country in history. Almost all of these occured in the eastern and northern parts of the country, especially near the border with Vietnam. Never enter areas marked as minefields and travel only on paved roads and well-worn paths. If you are unsure of which areas are safe, ask the locals.

Clearing landmines by Utenriksdept

Sexual Relations
Sexual relations between a Lao national and a foreigner are illegal unless they are married, and marriage requires special permits. Lao hotels are not permitted to allow a foreigner and Lao national in the same hotel room together.

Fake Products
Fake products are very common in the country. Laos is where Chinese or Thai companies dump sub-standard products. Similar to Myanmar, there are few if any laws preventing such trade.
Country Guide

Laos Hotels
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Huay Xai
Louang Namtha
Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Vang Vieng

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