Laos is bordered by Thailand and Vietnam, as well as China in the north, Myanmar in the northwest, and Cambodia in the south. Forests and mountains cover most of the country’s land while it has no coastline border. Despite its geographic disadvantage comparing to other countries in the area, Laos still offers a great experience for travelers who are keen on the “off the beaten track” destinations. If Laos is in your bucket list, you should know more about Laos weather before planning your vacation.
Laos weather overview
Laos weather is relatively uncomplicated with 2 distinct seasons: dry and wet season.
The dry season in Laos typically runs from October to April, and the wet season starts from May until September. Heaviest rainfall is generally sawed in August and September, especially in the Southern part. Between March and June, the beginning of the wet season is the hottest period in the year when temperature can reach 35°C and above.
The dry season in Laos
In the dry season of Laos, all months are not similar as there are cool dry weather (November to February) and hot dry weather (from March to April).
Obviously, the cool dry weather is much more pleasant which makes it become the best time to visit the country. In some regions of Laos, from March to May, farmers set fire to rice stubble and degraded (and not-so-degraded) forests to improve soil fertility in order to prepare for an upcoming rice crop. As a result, the surrounding areas are exposed to a layer of smoke, even in Luang Prabang.
I traveled to Laos in April earlier this year, I was shocked by the heat in the city of Vientiane. Even though where I come from, Vietnam, has a quite hot summer; but it seems that the heat in Laos is unbearable. When I came to Laos, I was very lucky to participate in its New Year. During the festive days, it is one of Laos traditions to pour water on each other everywhere on the streets. Every time I drove on my motorbike, local people would splash water to me. I was as wet as a fish but only water can make the heat lessen.
The cool, dry season, on the other hand, is a perfect time to travel to Laos. Temperatures are relatively low, the air is cleaner. Particularly in November and December, the water level is high enough to make the river excursion. Not surprisingly, this period in Laos is the peak season for travelers.
Luang Prabang, being surrounded by forest and having the Mekong river cut through, is the city with the typical tropical weather. In this area, the weather has a tendency to be cooler than the areas in the south. During the coolest dry months of December and January, the temperatures can go down to 17°C at night time. Then, in the early morning when the sun has not risen, it can make you feel chilly. It is wise to prepare a light jacket in the morning for this weather.
In some of the mountainous areas of Laos such as Nong Khiaw, The Bolaven Plateau, there is a gap between the temperatures during the night time and day time. It is so cool during the night that you even do not need a fan to sleep.
The wet season in Laos
The wet season in Laos lasts from May to October. Not only Laos, but for many countries in the same areas, it is common to have a downpour for a few hours in this season. However, rain varies from region to region. The higher the area is, the more rain you get; and the towns along the Mekong River south of Vientiane get the least rain.
Wet season affects seriously the infrastructure of Laos. As a vast amount of area in Laos is the mountain, big rains create landslides, making the roads rutted. In addition, because of the rain, the rivers can become harshly.
The early months of the wet season (May to July) remain very hot and rain does not last for long. Meanwhile, in the latter months (late July until September) the rains become more frequent and can be heavy, especially in southern parts of the country.
What to pack for your trip to Laos
From my own experience, it is necessary for you to bring along a light jacket or a wind jacket for all types of weather in Laos. It not only protects you from the rain but also from the extreme heat, especially when you ride on a motorbike or do a boat trip on the Mekong river. Do not forget to put on sunscreen; I am sure you do not want to get burned by the sun. Another item which of great importance is insect spray because there various falls in Laos, due to the tropical weather, you will probably find annoying insects in these areas.
Suggested Laos tours
Minh Vu – Travel Specialist