Foreign travel advice

Laos

COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

Health

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Coronavirus

For information on coronavirus (COVID-19), see Coronavirus

Health risks

UK health authorities have classified Laos as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website

Dengue and malaria are endemic and visitors should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitos through the use of deterrents and mosquito nets, whilst anti-malarial treatments are recommended in some areas.

Water borne, food borne and other infectious diseases are common and serious outbreaks occur from time to time.

There have been outbreaks of avian influenza (also known as bird flu) in poultry in Laos. The risk to humans is very low, but as a precaution you should avoid contact with domestic, caged or wild birds and make sure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

Air quality

Regional air pollution, up to unhealthy levels, can affect areas of Laos, and may aggravate heart, lung or respiratory conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can find advice on air quality and possible mitigation on the World Health Organization (WHO) website. You can check air quality levels for some cities in Laos in real time on the World Air Quality Index website.

Medical treatment

Medical care in Vientiane is extremely basic and outside the capital there are no reliable facilities to deal with medical emergencies. Medical evacuation is difficult to organise and very expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

There are no proper mental health services or care facilities in Laos. Professional treatment including medication is difficult and expensive to obtain. Emergency mental health treatment is likely to require transfer to a country offering appropriate facilities. Always make sure your travel insurance policy covers any pre-existing mental health conditions.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1195 or 030 5257239 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. You may be asked to pay for the use of an ambulance and any treatment you may require in advance. Usually you will get a receipt that can be used to claim on your insurance.

Voluntary ambulance services also operate in Vientiane free of charge:

  • Vientiane Rescue (telephone: 1623 or (0)20 5666 8825)
  • Lao Red Cross Rescue (telephone: +856 (0)20 5996 6111 or (0)20 2200 5563.

Note that these phone lines and emergency services telephone numbers are not staffed by English speakers. Make sure anyone attending an accident is wearing a uniform identifying themselves as ‘Vientiane Rescue’ or ‘Lao Red Cross’. There have been reports of bogus companies who aren’t trained in first aid charging for attending accidents.