What to bring on your Laos Tour
Laos Travel Packing information, the Ultimate Laos Travel Packing List
Traveling to Laos does need some preparation and this Lao packing list and information below will give you an outline of what you need to pack. Of course, this information depends very much on your personal style of travel in Laos. If you are coming by yourself, in a group, on a CULTURAL SIGHTSEEING TOUR or on a 7 DAY JUNGLE ADVENTURE... this list is a good starting place.
We at Tiger Trail Travel receive many emails with the question "What do I need to bring to Laos", and "Do you have a Laos packing list"?
So we have prepared some ideas for you.
- Passport with minimum 6-month validity left, VERY IMPORTANT!!
- a good backpack (good quality)
- good Travel insurance (most policies cover Laos, but check)
- a second photo ID other than your passport
- driver's license if you wish to go on the road or rent a bike or a car
- important scans and documents on hardcopy and on dropbox or google drive etc
- blood donor/type card in case of...
- prescriptions for any medication you require. Be assured that most Lao chemists will sell medicine without a script, but if you are searched by immigration it's good to be able to show you need the medicine you carry.
- credit cards, not all in the same bag please, and not all of them in your day-to-day wallet
- light sleeping bag or blanket for cleanliness if you hang out at backpacker places, others than that – only for trips around October till February
- sun protection, a hat, mosquito spray and sunscreen (enough of it)
- small towel and swimsuit, maybe a light outdoor towel - the waterfalls are inviting!
- good walking shoes and trekking sandals for activities and flip flops
- first aid kit for outdoor activities if you plan such activities (we take first aid kits on our tours)
- earplugs for sleeping and boat trips!
- padlock to prevent unwanted searching of your bags
- an easy-to-wash set of long and short cloths for outdoor use & string or hooks
- rain protection as our tours are held rain or shine (especially in June-October)
- basic toiletries and toilet paper, although these can easily be purchased at local stores and supermarkets
- games & a good book for on the bus or a quiet night
- small knife, binoculars, head torch/flashlight and extra batteries
- Chargers & power bank (some villages have no power)
- candles and lighter make sense, but not in hand luggage, please
- Hygiene kit with soap, tissues, toothbrush, tampons...
- School supplies, pens, notebooks, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to donate to local villages with your guide. These can be bought in Luang Prabang and your guide will give to the school or village.
- A small donation to your guide goes a long way supporting their family and community.
Good packing makes your travel easier. Make sure each item is in its own place that you remember, and easy for you to reach. Heavy things close to your back, the lighter things on the top and front. During the green season (June till October) put the items into plastic bags before loading them into another larger plastic bag in your rucksack so they stay dry.
What should I pack and bring for my tour in Laos?
First and most importantly you should bring an open mind and a sense of humour while visiting Laos. Don't just travel to Laos and come with preconceived ideas about what Laos is like. Media, news, blogs, and friends' experiences have a habit of distorting reality even before you get here.
If you are traveling with one of our special adventure programs in Laos we do recommend you bring as little as possible. Most things can probably be bought in Bangkok or any other bigger Asian town before you head to Laos.
Laos travel packing essentials start also with a small day pack that you can use on the days out from your guesthouse or hotel. Remember darker colored clothes do not need to be washed as often and as long/intensively as others. Also while giving it to a laundry it's most likely not coming back in different colors. Good shoes are a real travel essential for Laos, as many areas are still very wild and rough. Shoes or light hiking boots are best bought before arriving as they should be well worn in.
Make sure you bring some earplugs for when you're stuck in a noisy bus or sleeping room. Take a mirror for shaving, as often local guesthouses or homestays in Laos won't have any. Bring also some hooks and a string for hanging up washing or your wet gear. While traveling in Laos, remember to pack some games for long bus rides or the evenings with villagers and friends you meet along. Tampons are not commonly available and can be bought only in a few expat grocery stores in Vang Vieng, Pakse, Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Giving gifts in villages is tricky. If we do not give to each student then sometimes gifts of books and supplies don't make it to the intended recipients. On the other hand, foreigners physically giving gifts to local children is in conflict with our sustainable and responsible tourism policies. Giving directly enforces the "white-saviour syndrome". We aim to help local people to use their own skills, strengths and local resources. Unwise giving can destroy local growth and initiatives. "Give once and people respond with gratitude. Give twice and you create expectation. Give three times and people develop a sense of entitlement." Wherever there is sustained one-way giving unwholesome dynamics and relationships will flourish. Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people. The reality is local villages are not resourced and your gifts of books, pens, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, or other school resources are much needed, and your guide will distribute your gifts to villagers.
If you need more information about your personal trip and a list of suggestions for the style of travel you will take part in Laos, please send us a message.
We also publish more information on specific topics on Laos on our travel story blog, news, and updates are published on our Explore Laos website.