Connecting to the internet in Laos is an important concern for many international visitors. Travelers may need to check their emails, consult maps, find information about local places, or check in for their return flights, all of which means going online.
Laos is a country that continues to develop, with a fast-growing economy. However, it is still relatively isolated from the outside world and has large swathes of rural land and small, traditional communities. While these factors can be appealing to travelers, they also cause many to ask “can I connect to the internet in Laos?”
This guide explains how and where visitors can go online while staying in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Is There Internet in Laos for Foreigners?
Yes, it is possible to connect to the internet in Laos; however, the country was one of the last in Asia to establish full connectivity to the worldwide web.
Internet usage in Laos is steadily growing, but many of the more remote parts of the country lack access. This can be a potential obstacle for international visitors.
Laos has had the internet since the 1990s. The Lao National Polytechnic Institute (NPI) was the first location to establish an email service.
Full connectivity for the country was achieved in 1999 with the introduction of 2 commercial ISP services (PlaNet Computers and GlobeNet). This was followed by a rapid rise in the number of internet cafés.
In 2008, mobile broadband arrived in Laos, which again significantly increased internet usage.
However, many native Laotians still do not use the internet. Visitors from other countries, on the other hand, can take advantage of internet cafés and locations with wifi to get online.
How Do I Get Internet in Laos as a Tourist?
In addition to booking their flights and applying for their Laos visa online, travelers from foreign countries should prepare for their trip to Laos by considering how often they will need to use the internet and how best to achieve that.
Visitors can access the internet in a number of ways in Laos. The main methods include:
- Connecting to wifi networks
- Buying a local SIM card and using mobile data
- Visiting an internet café
Is There Wifi in Laos for Tourists?
It is possible to find free wifi in most guesthouses, hotels, and many cafés in tourist destinations. However, it is less common in the more rural and isolated areas.
In major cities, particularly in Vientiane, wifi may also be available in places like airports, libraries, and museums.
Mobile Internet in Laos as a Visitor
It is possible to purchase a prepaid SIM to stay connected in Laos via a cell phone or other mobile device.
There are various options, with 4 GSM network operators in the country, all owned by the Laos government. The 4 companies are:
- TPlus (formerly Beeline)
There is also a 5th company (Planet Online), which only covers the Laotian capital, Vientiane.
In addition, SIMs are available from companies based in nearby Thailand, China, and other Asian countries that cover multiple nations in Southeast Asia, including Laos.
Having a mobile device with an internet connection is ideal for travelers who plan to do outdoor activities in Laos away from the main urban centers.
Internet Cafés in Laos
Internet cafés are less common than in the past, but are still somewhat common in sizeable Laotian towns and cities. It is not difficult to find one in Vientiane. The internet cost in Laos can vary depending on the internet café, but it generally ranges from 5000K to 10,000K per hour.
Is the Internet Restricted in Laos for Foreign People?
Internet censorship in Laos is non-existent. Laotian media is run by the state, but there are currently no restrictions on access to the internet. Those who can connect can visit any website, with none being blocked by order of the government.
Citizens of Laos are granted freedom of speech by Article 44 of the Lao Constitution: “Lao citizens have the right and freedom of speech, press and assembly; and have the right to set up associations and to state demonstration which are not contrary to the laws.”
This Laotian law can be extended to online activity.
Despite being allowed full access to the internet, many Laotians do not use it—in fact, in 2010 only 7% of the country’s population were users. This is largely due to the fact that few websites exist in the Lao language.
For foreigners visiting the country with a Laotian eVisa, this is of little consequence and such travelers can take full advantage of unrestricted internet access in areas where they can connect.