Like most counties, Laos normally has certain travel restrictions in place, requiring most foreign nationals to have a visa to enter the country. These restrictions vary depending on the nationality of the visitor.
The coronavirus pandemic of 2019-2020 has led many parts of the world to limit travel and even ban certain foreign visitors from crossing their borders. Laos is among the sovereign states that have imposed certain regulations on travelers from overseas.
Visitors from various countries will be affected by these new travel restrictions for Laos.
How Does Coronavirus Affect Travel to Laos?
There are several new travel restrictions for Laos that have been introduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The disease originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and China is the country that has been affected most severely by it. Because of this, Laos has stopped issuing tourist visas to Chinese passport holders during the earlier stages of the outbreak.
On Wednesday, March 18th, the Lao government announced that all tourist visas were to be suspended until further notice.
This new restriction applies to the visa on arrival and eVisa for Laos. Foreigners already in possession of a visa need to acquire a health certificate and declare recent movements.
In addition, visa exemptions have been temporarily revoked. Citizens from those countries who can normally travel to Laos without a visa should contact the Lao embassy or consulate for guidance.
Once the coronavirus outbreak has been controlled across the world, normal visa policy will resume to Laos.
Other measures in place include the closure of the Lao-Thai friendship bridge which, under normal circumstances, connects the Laotian capital, Vientiane, with Nong Khai in Thailand. From midnight on 22nd March, only commercial transport vehicles will be able to cross.
All other Laos border crossing points with Thailand are also to remain closed temporarily.
Laos remains on high alert at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, immigration officials are scanning all international arrivals. Lao citizens arriving from COVID-19 outbreak countries will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Given that the situation is constantly developing, these restrictions may change again. It is advisable for anyone with travel plans to check the latest information before embarking on a journey to Laos.
Laos COVID-19 Information
Laos is one of a minority of countries that have not had a single confirmed case of COVID-19. Despite this, it is possible that some people have been infected by the virus and have not been documented by officials.
For this reason, Laos is taking precautions. In addition to travel restrictions, isolation rooms have been prepared at hospitals handling suspected cases of coronavirus.
Other measures include:
- A number of sports competitions and public events have been canceled across the country.
- Entertainment venues have been closed.
- Large public gatherings have been warned against and organizers of events have been asked to cancel or postpone.
It is likely that major festivals and events during public holidays in Laos will also be affected.
Laos Travel Advisory for COVID-19
Due to the fact that coronavirus has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), most governments are advising against all travel abroad unless absolutely necessary.
Foreign visitors in Laos should take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.
Standard precautions include:
- Avoid crowds and public gatherings
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Keep a distance of at least 1 m (3 feet) between yourself and others if possible
- Cover your mouth and nose if coughing or sneezing
- Comply with Laos health recommendations for travelers
- Seek medical care immediately if you are experiencing symptoms (coughing, fever, and/or breathing difficulties)
Foreign nationals already in the country who are concerned about getting home, are taken ill, and/or are in quarantine should contact their embassy in Laos.
General Travel Restrictions to Laos
Normally, Laos is accessible to most travelers. However, there are certain restrictions for some visitors. These vary from country to country.
Foreign nationals from several states may only enter the country visa-free for 14 or 15 days. Visitors who wish to stay for longer than this must apply for a Laos eVisa in order to do so.
For visitors from many other countries, the eVisa is mandatory for any entry. Check the Laos eVisa requirements for information about who is eligible for this.
Entry restrictions are even stricter for nationals of a small number of countries, including Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Algeria. These travelers must obtain a consular visa from a Lao embassy.
Travel Advice and Safety in Laos
In addition to restrictions imposed by Laos, there are a few parts of the country that foreign visitors are advised to avoid.
- Xaisomboun Province
- Remote areas near the Burmese border
There are also certain routes that international tourists are recommended to avoid due to the presence of unexploded bombs left over from the Indochina Wars, which ended back in 1991.
Apart from these areas, Laos is generally regarded as safe for foreign visitors. As with any travel in another country, tourists should stay alert and keep their belongings close to be on the safe side.
Last Update: March, 24th 2020.