As most Southeast Asia countries have a dry and wet climate with three basic seasons, including Laos. When you having touring in Laos, you are usually warm and sunny most of the year.
The rainy or wet season runs from May to October. Hot and humid with plenty of rains are the most characters of this season. But rains often happen quickly for a few hours every few days instead all day rains.
Dry season runs from November to April or early May and can be divided into two sub-seasons: cool season and hot season. Cool dry season is from November to February, which is the most comfortable time to visit Laos, especially in November and December. And the hot dry season is from March to April or early May when the country is in its hottest and very dry weather.
Best time to visit Laos
The best time to visit Laos is between November to February when it rains the least and is not too hot. During this period, the day time temperatures are agreeably warm, evenings are slightly chilly and the countryside is green and lush after the rains.
As for the mountainous northern provinces, it is not bad to go to there in the hot season mainly from March to May. You’d better not go to the southern Laos from March to May for the temperature will break to the 40s in the day-time and nights will be hot too. If you intent to travel by river, rain season will be the best choice.
All in all, the best time to visit Laos is depending on what you are expecting to see and what kind of weather you like.
Vientiane is the capital of Laos, having a tropical climate marked by wet and dry seasons. In fact, Vientiane is a tourist destination that can be visited at any time of the year, due to its temperature averaging around 20°C and 30°C during the who year. Without months that have high or low temperatures, tourists can enjoy a full time of the beauty of Laos. The best time to visit Vientiane is from October too March, with a comfortable temperature from 17°C to 30°C, as well as sunny days. The rainy season is from May to September. If you don’t want the rains to interrupt your travel plan, avoid this time.
Climate in Luang Prabang is similar to Vientiane, with two distinct seasons. The dry season runs from November to May with a average temperature of 27°C while wet season from May to October. During the rainy season, torrential rainfall usually occurs. The best time to visit Luang Prabang is from October to March, when the temperature is relatively comfortable to stay and humidity is also comfortable. However, if you are fine to travel during the wet weather, you will see the picturesque Luang Prabang after the rainfalls and with less crowd.
Tourists who come to Vang Vieng usually will go caving, rock-climbing, rafting and kayaking. So, the wet season from May to September is not good for tourists to come. During the wet season, the water in Nam Song River will fill up and flow up faster, making the pathways to be slippery and dangerous when caving and rock-climbing. However, the dry season from November to March is the best time to visit Vang Vieng, when the weather is good and the temperature is cool.
To enter Laos, visitors need to obtain a visa except citizens of Russians, Korean, Japanese, Swiss and ASEAN. You can apply tourist visa for Laos with 30-day stay via a travel agency or through a Laos Embassy or consulate.
To save your time, the visa on arrival is available at international airports in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse, as well as most international borders Thailand, Vietnam and China. Only US dollars are accepted when paying the fees and you need to prepare a passport-sized photo. If you forgot the photo, you will need to pay extra US$1 to have this requirement waived.
The validity of the visa is 30 days and starts from the day you entering into Laos. If your visa is obtained from the embassy in advance, then your visa must be used within three months from the day it is issued.
The fees varied depending on your nationality and the office you choose to obtain. A visa obtained in advance from the embassy costs about US$50 while a visa on arrival costs about US$35.
It is possible to extend your stay in Laos, which can be arranged at the immigration office on Hatsady Road in Vientiane before your visa expires. The office is open Monday-Friday, from 8:00-16:00 (closed 12:00 to 13:00 at lunchtime). The office is close for applications on Friday afternoon. The extension will cost $2 per day. As for the extension in Laos, you need to plan ahead to avoid overstaying. Because it will cost $10 penalty for each extra day you spend in the country.
If you plan to stay longer, you need to do a calculation to see if it is more expensive than to apply for a new visa. If so, you could just leave the country and enter again.
Vientiane Tourist Attractions
- Laos National Museum
The Laos National Museum is located in the old French Governor’s mansion, also known as the Laos National History Museum where you will have a chance to learn about the history, culture and people of Laos. The whole museum covers a lot of ancient artifacts like Khmer sculptures, dinosaur bones, pottery fragments, and a single jar from the Plain of Jars in Savannakhe from prehistoric times to the modern day. The upstairs exhibits are better organized and evolves the history of Laos from the Siamese invasions to colonization by the French and revolution, communism and the American War.
Before getting into the museum, you need to put your bags and cameras into the locker and sign the guest-book at the entrance.
Opening Hours: From 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 16:00. Closed on public holidays.
- Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket located opposite the Presidential Palace, built by the last King of the Lan Xang Kingdom. It is famous for its wall containing thousands of tiny Buddha images and rows with hundreds of seated Buddhas. All these images date from the 16th and 19th centuries and share the same size, which are made from wood, stone and bronze. The official count is 6,840. The temple features a Bangkok-style design with many interesting features, such as ornate five-tiered roof, a drum tower, a small library and so on. Every day, local people will come here to pray and make merit when the morning is coming.
An admission fee of 5,000 kips are needed to enter the main area. But the monastery and library are outside the admission zone.
Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00 – 16:00
- That Luang
That Luang, or the Great Stupa, or the Royal Stupa in Vientiane was first built in 1566 by King Stthathirat. It is a symbol of Buddhism and Laos rule as well as the most sacred monument in the country. That Luang was greatly damaged during the centuries by wars and time. And the gleaming structure today was reconstructed and restored by the French in 1900 and 1930. Every November when the Boun That Luang Festival is held in Vientiane, the main event will held at That Laung and thousands of people form all over Laos and neighbouring countries will come here to pay respect to the stupa.
It is suggested to visit the stupa with a local guide to show you around, In order not to miss anything and have a better understanding about this amazing sites. Paying will allow you to enter the stupa to take a close look at it.
Luang Prabang Tourist Attractions
- Wat Xieng Thong
As one of the most outstanding examples of Buddhist art and architecture in Luang Prabang, Wat Xieng Thong features a symbol of importance to Luang Prabang. It is built by King Saysetthathirath during the 16th Century and undertaken several repairs and restoration. But it still remains in its original form. The wat is situated close to where the Mekong joins the Nam Khan River make it the gateway to Luang Prabang.
There is a reclining black Buddha consecrated in a red chapel which dates back to the age when the Wat first built. It was transferred to Paris to display in 1931 and then returned to Luang Prabang in 1964, which is considered to be extremely unique.
Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00-17:00
- Wat Aham
Wat Aham, the “Monastery of the Opened Heart”, is located near the Nam Khan river. It is a small temple making up of a sim and two ancient stupas, which has a history of both Buddhism and spirit worship. The temple was built in 1818 on the site of a much older temple dating back to 1527. However, the site it is has been home to animist shrines since long before the time is was built.
Between the street and the temple are two very large and old banyan trees wrapped with colorful ribbons that are believed to host the guardian spirits of Luang Prabang, Phu No and Nha No. To get there, you can totally by foot or take jumbo or tuk tuk ride with about 10,000 Kip (about US$ 1.30) and 15,000 Kip (about US$ 2)
Opening Hours: daily from 8 am until 5 pm
- Kuang Si Waterfall
With three tiers leading to a 50-meter drop into spectacular azure pools, Luang Si Waterfall is one of the most interesting attractions in Luang Prabang for a day trip. It is a good place to swim and escape from the hot in summer days thanks to the surrounding lush tropical jungle. The primary waterfall cascades down 50 meters; travelers can climb to the top and falls to a pool at the top where you can see the stream feeding into the falls and enjoy some more natural pools. The track to the top is steep and we suggested you get the right shoes as it will get slippery.
It is located 29km south of Luang Prabang around 45 minutes. You can get there by hiring a motorcycle or tuk tuk, or just book a tour which will cost about $5US per person.
- Royal Palace Museum
Known as the National Museum or Haw Kham (Golden Hall), the Royal Palace Museum was built in 1904 and completed in 1909 during French colonization to house King Sisavang Vong and the royal family. In 1975, the residence became a museum when the Laos monarchy was overthrown by the Communist party. The rooms are displayed with royal portraits and busts, religious artifacts, gifts from foreign states, and the palace’s most prized piece, the Phra Bang.
It is free to enter the ground, but will charge reasonably to enter the halls. After paying your entrance fee, you need to put your bags and cameras into a locker for free before you entering the museum. There will be performance at 18:00 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with ticket prices ranging from $8 to $20 during high season.
Opening Hours: from 08:00 to 11:30 and 13:30 to 16:00 every day except Tuesday