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 please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

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.


Leave a Reply