The best time to visit Laos is between October and March, when you can enjoy pleasant weather throughout. This time of the year is the dry season in the country, there is almost no rain and temperatures are moderate. River travel along Laos’ main waterway, the Mekong River, is best between November and January, when the high water levels make passage easy.
The landlocked country of Laos has the tropical monsoon climate with wet and dry seasons. The wet season lasts from May to September, when the average temperature is 27°C (80°F). The dry season is from October to April, where minimum temperatures average between 16°C and 21°C (60°F and 70°F) in the cool months of December through February, increasing to highs of more than 32°C (90°F) in March and April, just before the start of the rains.
April through May is the hottest time of the year, the weather is dry with some thunderstorms in the afternoon. The average highs in April is about 35°C (95 °F), but with peaks of 42°C (108°F). In May, the temperature begins to decrease in the south, while in the north, where the monsoon arrives later, it's still very hot.
Here is your Laos climate guide on what to expect, where and when:
In the far northern Laos, October through March brings dry days and relatively cool weather making the perfect months for trekking in the remote mountains, such as Luang Namtha, Muang La and Phongsali, where temperatures can dip to as low as 7°C (45°F). If you are heading to those destinations during this time of the year, suitable warm clothing is recommended.
During the wet season from May to September, the mountains of Laos see short and intense showers which last for few hours. The peak of the wet season is in August, when the heavy rain can make traveling around Muang Sing and Phongsali fairly difficult and tracks may become unpassable, with risk of landslides in some areas. If it is “off the trail”, it’s best avoided.
In the center Laos, October through March promises premium traveling conditions in Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane with dry and sunny days. During this dry season, Luang Prabang and Vientiane experience pleasant and moderate temperatures at the average of 20°C (68°F) and 24°C (75°F).
Following several months of rain, the countryside is lush and green, and river levels remain high, making November through January great months for cruising along the robust Mekong – yielding a relaxing ride in comfortable temperatures. Laos’ lakes and waterfalls are at full power this time of year.
As with most Southeast Asian countries, cooler seasons will bring a larger number of tourists. In Laos, the situation is no different - larger crowds mean hotel and vendor prices will be higher, and a higher number of visitors should be expected at the main tourist sites.
During the wet season after the hot April and early May, beside the rains, temperatures in the center of Laos remain high, Luang Prabang and Vientiane still experience average temperatures of 28°C (82°F) and 30°C (86°F). It’s still good to travel at this time, and the rest of Southeast Asia, as tourism is experiencing a lull, so it is possible to take advantage of the low season’s prices, and your tourism dollars will go far.
This time of the year, the Nam Song River fills up and flows up to four times faster. While this does not stop activities such as caving, rock climbing and kayaking, but extra caution must be taken as heavy rain can cause pathways to become slippery and dangerous.
In the southern plains, Pakse and the 4000 islands in Champasak also enjoy the nice weather between October and March. However, it experiences heavy rains with over 300mm (12 inches) each month from May to September. This can stop you from traveling by unsealed road, but it is the best time to travel by boat, a common way to get around southern Laos.
For further details on month on month travel guide to Laos, see our guide to traveling in Laos.
If traveling Laos between October to March, bring light clothes for the day, a jacket and a sweater for the evening, and raincoat for the drizzle. Especially traveling in the remote mountains in December, bring a warm jacket, hiking shoes, hat and gloves. Before entering pagodas in this Buddhist land, it is customary to remove shoes, dress neatly and make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.
Contact an Incense Travel expert to start planning your own itinerary to experience Laos.