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Country Reports

Laos Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Travelers to Laos (population 6.7 million) should take certain precautions during their visit.

SECURITY

Enduring ethnic tensions, banditry, and the continued presence of unexploded landmines are some of the reasons why travelers should avoid certain regions of the country (the city of Xam Neua, the rest of Houaphanh province, route 13 north, route 7).

In the north of the country (Vang Vieng region), a spike in tensions between government forces and an unidentified armed group has been observed over the past two years.

Armed muggings have been reported in Phou Khao Khouay National Park. It is also advisable to avoid taking route 1 south of Phonsavan (Xiangkhouang province).

While the terrorist threat is relatively low and not of daily concern to the local population, it should still be noted that bombings were perpetrated in the capital Vientiane and other northern towns in 2003 and 2004. Foreigners should be vigilant while in public places in these regions.

It is also worth noting the various attacks carried out in 2016, which targeted Chinese nationals and left several victims (24 January and March 3; see Luang Prabang province, north-central).

POLITICS

The next general elections will be held in spring 2021.

TRANSPORTATION

Plane crashes (domestic flights) are not rare in Laos (several Yuen-7 and Yuen-12 planes serving domestic routes have crashed over the past few years). Travel by boat on the Mekong River can also be dangerous due to poor safety standards. Furthermore, roads are often in poor condition, particularly during the rainy season. Finally, travelers are advised against taking public transportation (buses, minibuses) as it is often unsafe.

HEALTH

Medical facilities are not equipped to perform major surgery. A medical evacuation abroad (e.g. to Bangkok or Thailand) should be considered in case of an emergency.

Malaria afflicts the country and the prevailing strains are highly resistant to chloroquine. Dengue fever is endemic and there is also a significant presence of HIV-AIDS. Finally, cases of chikungunya have recently been observed in the south of the country and the disease appears to be progressing north toward the capital.

NATURAL RISKS

Laos is situated in an active seismic zone.

The rainy season lasts from May to November and particularly affects the southern part of the country and the areas along the Mekong River.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Finally, visitors should keep in mind that outside of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, tourist facilities (hotels, restaurants) are scarce and often below Western standards.

Climate

The rainy season (monsoon) begins in April and ends in October. The hottest months of the year (30°C to 35°C) are April, May, and October. The dry season (November to February) is pleasant with relatively mild temperatures. In higher elevations, temperatures become cool, even cold, in December and January.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +856 Police: 191 Fire Dept.: 190

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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