Health issues and quality of medical treatment in Laos vary diversely depending on the area of Laos. Travelers should prepare for travel to Laos by informing themselves of prevalent diseases, health insurance, wild animals and insect bites, as well as how to eat food safely.
The below information provides Laos health recommendations for travelers who plan on visiting Laos.
Medical Tips for Laos
Laos is not a dangerous country to visit and illnesses can be avoided by getting vaccinations prior to travel. In fact, previous medical conditions are more cause for concern than diseases or other health issues in Laos. Travelers should ensure that they visit their doctor prior to travel if they have any medical conditions that may require medication while away or other treatment. It is also wise to check with your doctor as to whether you require any necessary vaccinations for Laos.
Other medical tips for Laos include:
- Take all medication in the original box prescribed
- Proof of prescription may be necessary
- Needles and syringes for medical use may require official certification from a doctor
- It is recommended that travelers carry double the prescription necessary in case of loss or theft
- Take any medication you may need while away with you as it could be difficult to find it in Laos
- Contraceptives, blood pressure medication, and antidepressants are particularly difficult to find
- Avoid buying medication in Laos without official prescriptions or documents as medication can sometimes be false, out of date or incorrect
Note that medical care for visitors in Laos is varied across different regions.
Health Insurance for Laos
Even healthy and fit travelers should arrange both travel and health insurance for Laos. Be aware that not all travel insurance includes medical costs and that sometimes health insurance should be arranged either separately or as an add-on package to the travel insurance.
When requesting health insurance, it is necessary to list any medical conditions and be honest about your state of health, as this could deem your insurance invalid. Without insurance that covers medical costs in Laos, travelers could end up paying costly fees should any medical treatment be required while in Laos.
If you do require medical treatment in Laos while there, check your insurance policy to understand what is included and be sure to keep any receipts, proof of treatments or doctor’s notes. You may be required to pay and then be reimbursed by the insurance company at a later date.
Diseases in Laos
The following is a list of diseases that prevail throughout parts of or all of Laos. There are vaccinations for many of the diseases listed below that travelers can get before traveling to Laos.
- Dengue Fever
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis E
Travel First-Aid Kit for Laos
As mentioned above, buying medication in Laos could be expensive or difficult to find. It is always a good idea to travel with standard medication that can be used in the event of minor illnesses or accidents.
A list of useful medication to take to Laos:
- Constipation and diarrhea relief (tablets and rehydration sachets)
- Insect bite relief
- Antiseptic cream
- Sun cream
- Throat lozenges
- Insect repellent
The above items are suggestions for preparing for your trip to Laos. Carrying basic medication or first-aid kits can be of help in minor incidents while traveling and can also prevent minor situations worsening when treated adequately.
Laos Medical Assistance and Costs
The medical services that are offered in hospitals and clinics in Laos are much more basic than those of other countries in terms of hygiene, equipment, and staff training.
The international clinic Mahasot Hospital in Vientián has a good reputation and is open 24 hours. Some embassies in Vientián also have medical centers.
If you have a serious medical emergency whilst in Laos and are able to get to Bangkok, it is recommended that you travel to Bangkok to get treatment. If it is a medical emergency and Bangkok is too far but you are close to Thailand, it may be worth researching hospitals along the border in Thailand to get to a large hospital in a town or city nearer to Laos.
(Note: your insurance will only cover you if you have specified in the insurance policy that you are also traveling in Thailand.)
Tips for HealthTraveling Laos
There are other health tips for travel in Laos that visitors should take into account such as:
- Heat and sun protection
- Food safety
- Wild animals
- Insect bites
These points have been elaborated in the following sections to provide more detailed information.
Heat and Sun Protection
There are many areas of Laos that are hot and humid throughout the entire year. This can be a shock to those who either do not live in such a climate or those who are traveling to Laos during a time of year that is particularly cold in their native country. It can take a few days to adjust to the temperature when the change is significant.
Adjusting to temperature changes can cause:
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Sore muscles
- Excessive sweating
Suffering from heatstroke is also a serious symptom of being exposed to excessive heat. Avoid dehydration at all costs and if any of the above symptoms become severe, travelers should seek medical attention immediately.
Food Safety in Laos
Eating out is the biggest risk factor given that the food hygiene standards and preparation can vary. Here are some top tips for food safety in Laos:
- Make sure all fruit is peeled to avoid bacteria
- Eat recently cooked food only
- Do not eat anything washed in water (fruit, salad, etc.)
In Laos, you will encounter wild animals more frequently than you may do in other countries. Similarly to other countries in Asia, there are also stray dogs and other stray animals. Hence, the rabies vaccine is often recommended to those who plan on traveling in more rural areas of Asia.
In the southeast of Asia, it is common to find certain types of snake, some of which are not harmful, others of which may be venomous. If you are walking in forested or rural areas, it is advised that you wear boots and long trousers to protect your skin in the case of contact.
It is not uncommon to be bitten by either mosquitos or other types of insect while in Laos. To protect yourself against insect bites, it can be useful to invest in a mosquito net for sleeping. This will prevent bites during the night and mean you do not have to spray repellent on your body for nighttime.
Remember, even if in the city, it is wise to wear insect repellent. Insect bite relief is useful in the case of being bitten and in case of severe swelling, antihistamine can be used to reduce swelling.
Travel to Laos
If you are traveling to Laos, you can apply for a Laos visa online prior to departure. This enables travelers to receive an authorized visa prior to departing for their journey. In the case that you wish to apply for a visa online, applicants are required to fill our the Laos visa application form online.
The online system has become a simple and faster method of obtaining a visa. Many other countries and immigration systems have also begun to implement online visas in order to achieve quicker security scans and grant tourists visa more effectively.