Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 27 September 2018, 15:38 NZST
  • Still current at: 24 January 2020

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Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to Xaisomboun Province due to the potential of violent incidents, and the Attapeu Province where recovery efforts are ongoing since recent flooding of the hydroelectric dam. Travel to certain parts of the Xaisomboun Province requires a permit from Lao authorities. There has been a number of violent incidents in the Xaisomboun Province in recent years, including shooting attacks and the detonation of improvised explosive devices. These have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries, including of civilians.

Exercise normal safety and security precautions

Exercise normal safety and security precautions elsewhere in Laos.

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Violent crime
On occasion, violent crime, such as robbery and sexual assault has been known to occur, including in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Vang Vieng. Petty crime, including bag snatching from passing motorcycles, is prevalent in cities and tourist areas. Local law enforcement’s response to crime is often limited. We recommend paying close attention to your personal security and belongings at all times and avoiding unlit areas and roads at night.

There have been a number of drug-related deaths among foreign nationals visiting Laos. Some tourists have had their drinks or food spiked with drugs and have subsequently been assaulted. We recommend you take care not to leave your food or drink unattended. Restaurants offering ‘Happy’ or ‘Special’ menu items, particularly pizza or shakes should be avoided, as they may contain unspecified amounts of opium and other unknown substances.

Local travel
Unexploded landmines and ordnance pose a significant threat in Laos, particularly in Xieng Khouang Province (Plain of Jars) and the Lao-Vietnamese border area along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We advise you not to stray off well‑used roads and paths in rural areas. Mined areas are often unmarked. 

The area near the border with Myanmar is a known drug smuggling route, and there have been small-scale skirmishes between anti-government groups and government troops in isolated areas along the Thailand border.  

New Zealanders should exercise caution if contemplating participation in river and water-based activities in Laos. Tourists have been killed and seriously injured participating in  activities such as jumping, tubing, rafting and ‘fast boat’ river travel. New Zealanders are advised to carefully consider the risks of participating in such activities, as sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and safety regulations may be lower than what you would expect in New Zealand. You should always use the safety equipment supplied and avoid operators who do not take the necessary safety precautions to ensure passenger safety, such as providing life jackets. 

Civil unrest
Isolated incidents of violent civil unrest have occurred in the past in Laos. New Zealanders are advised to  avoid all demonstrations and protests, monitor the media for information on potential safety risks and comply with any instructions issued by the local authorities.

General travel advice
It is a requirement under Lao law to carry identification at all times. Police undertake frequent checks and failure to provide suitable identification may result in a fine or detention. 

New Zealanders travelling or living in Laos should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Laos are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

The New Zealand Embassy Bangkok, Thailand is accredited to Laos

Street Address M Thai Tower, 14th floor, All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road, Bangkok Postal Address PO Box 2719, Bangkok 10500 Telephone +66 2 254 2530 Fax +66 2 253 9045 Email Web Site Hours Mon-Fri 0800-1200, 1300-1630 hrs

See our regional advice for South East Asia

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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Thailand

Street Address
M Thai Tower, 14th floor, All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road, Bangkok

Telephone: +66 2 254 2530

Fax: +66 2 253 9045



Hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1200, 1300-1630 hrs

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