Laos

Laos Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Laos
You need an International Driving permit to drive In Laos. Many roads have been upgraded in recent years but you’ll still need a 4WD or vehicle with a high wheel base to drive in most of Laos due to poor road conditions. The main road in the country is route 13, which stretches from Luang Prabang to the Cambodian border, passing through Vientiane, Savannakhet and Pakse Roads and can be driven in a normal car.

As Laos is a mountainous country , the gradients coupled with poor roads can make for some challenging and slow driving. A 200km drive through the mountains could take as long as 18 hours so bear this in mind when planning your trip and check locals conditions with someone who has made the journey recently. (Try Lonely Planets Thorn Tree forum).

Roads in Laos are rarely congested, even in the centre of Vientiane you’ll rarely hit any congestion. Driving standards are poor though so expect the usual lane indiscipline and motorbikes appearing from all directions, many without lights at night .If you’re involved in an accident you will have to pay compensation for third party property damage and injury, even if you are not at fault. The Lao authorities will generally find in favour of Lao citizens, regardless of the situation, and insurers only meet a small proportion of the costs of an accident and will not cover this compensation.

There have been reports of robberies on vehicles on rural roads at night including route 13 between Vang Vieng and Luang Probang, the new road between Kasi, route 4 and much of the Xaisomboum province. You should generally avoid travel after dark.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Laos Car Rental –
Sixt and Avis have branches in Vientiane.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Laos. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com.

Laos Self Drive Rules-
Some local rental companies can provide border pass documents for neighbouring countries, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and to China as far as JingHong only.

You require supplementary Third Party insurance for the time spent in outside countries. You can purchase this at the border as you enter those countries. You will need to rent a 4X4 for travel into any country other than Thailand and if you intend to travel out of Vientiane.For Vietnam and China you require a Visa for all people traveling prior to your arrival at the border.

2 comments


  1. Hello!

    We would like to enter Laos soon (this week if possible) with our own vehicle (German registered), which we know is possible and we have all the paperwork for.

    However, our plan to continue to Vietnam has just fallen through as now one needs an escort vehicle there and it is too expensive.

    So I would ideally like to spend ca. 3 weeks in Laos (or Cambodia as fallback) and leave the car somewhere and fly to Ha Noi, to return maybe 3 weeks later.

    That would mean the car being in the country for 6 weeks.

    Do you know if that is possible and/or which authorities I should try to be contacting to find out?
    Many thanks for your help!

    PS, if this should be sent by email, rather than as a reply, apologies and let me know!

  2. Driver Abroad

    Hello -the rules seem to change often in SE Asia Helen.I would suggest you contact the Laos emabassy in your country (or nearest country if there isnt one -i believe there is one in France) and ask them for the latest rules.Can I also suggest a couple of useful sites I often refer people to covering driving in SEA. One is HorizonsUnlimited.com- thats a motor cycle site but they often have good, up to date advice on taking your own vehicle across borders. This company are also very knowledgeable about travelling in the region and run trips crossing the VN/Laos border http://www.ontheroadinchina.com. The guy who runs the operation, Peter Schindler is also a good source of info for driving in Asian countries.

    Good luck and it would be great if you could provide any updates for my pages on the countries you visit.

    Matthew

Leave a Reply