Laos Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

The research for this website was carried out mainly in 2011 and 2012. Therefore there is a good chance that much of the information may now be out of date. This is particularly true of countries in the developing world, especially Asia and Africa where conditions can change often. Also, the political climate in many countries has changed a lot in recent years. Therefore the information on this website should be treated with caution. You should always check with your Government’s website or the UK Foreign office travel advice website before finalising plans to drive abroad.

Driving In Laos
You need an International Driving permit to drive In Laos. You’ll need a 4WD or vehicle with a high wheel base to drive in most of Laos due to poor road conditions. Roads which would be Okay for a normal car are North from Vientiane to Nam Ngum and Vang Vieng and South to Savannakhet. Though after rain you may struggle here too. . 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.

Laos Car Rental –
Europcar are the only international rental firm operating in Laos. They allow bookings from Vientiane airport via their main website, or the site below is their local franchise –

This is a local company who rent self drive cars, pick ups and 4x4s


Laos Self Drive Rules-
AVR Cars have border pass documents for neighbouring countries, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and to China as far as JingHong only.Lao Insurance extends to those countries with an excess or drivers liability to a maximum of US $1000 within Lao or US $1500 outside Lao.

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. (And I guess you’d have to travel out of Vientiane to get to Thailand so you’d need one there too!).For Vietnam and China you require a Visa for all people traveling prior to your arrival at the border.


  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 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 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.


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