If you are planning a trip to Laos and wondering what to wear, you are in the right place!
In this guide, I’ll take you through the dos and don’ts of dressing in Laos, from what you should wear to a temple to what might offend the locals.
Whether you’re visiting the temples of Luang Prabang or hiking through the lush forests of the Bolaven Plateau, this guide on what to wear in Laos has got you covered.
Here’s a quick list of everything included in this Laos packing list:
Table of Contents
What Is The Weather Like In Laos?
When deciding what clothes you’re going to pack for Laos, the weather will be a key factor.
The weather does vary slightly throughout the year so you may need to pack different items.
In general, the weather is hot and humid in Laos all year round.
The dry season in Laos runs from October until April when you can expect clear blue skies and lots of sun.
The rainy season in Laos runs from May until September when the weather is a little more uncertain. You’ll probably want to pack a raincoat.
Average Temperatures In Laos By Month
I’ve put together this handy table to show you the average high and low temperatures in Laos by month.
The temperatures displayed below are based on the capital, Vientiane, so you should take them with a pinch of salt.
The temperatures in northern parts of Laos, such as Luang Prabang, and in the mountainous areas will drop a bit lower in the winter compared with Vientiane and southern areas of Laos.
Laos Average Temperatures By Month:
As you can see, it’s pretty much always hot in Laos no matter what time of year you visit.
With that in mind, here’s exactly what to pack for Laos…
What To Wear In Laos
Due to the heat, you’ll want to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing as this will keep you cooler in the blistering heat.
Lightweight materials such as cotton, linen or polyester tend to be the best options.
These flowy pants are absolutely stunning (I have a pair myself and have worn them across Southeast Asia). They look great in photos and keep you super cool.
I’d also pack a few pairs of shorts as well. Although denim shorts are my fave, they’ll make you hot and sweaty so I’d opt for something more like this.
These shorts are made from polyester so won’t make you feel super hot and they’re not super tight.
It’s completely up to you if you prefer to wear long or short clothing.
It’s completely fine to wear shorts and t-shirts in Laos but remember that long clothes will protect your skin from sun damage.
I usually wear a mix of the two. I always wear sunscreen when I wear shorts to protect my skin but sometimes I just can’t be bothered to put it on so opt for long clothes instead.
By the way, this is my holy grail sunscreen as it’s SPF60 (yep, it exists).
These are absolutely essential because without them you’ll be squinting the whole time which can lead to headaches.
Laos is a pretty laid back country so you should mainly pack casual clothes. Leave that ball gown at home.
People tend to dress very casually in most bars and restaurants in Laos so you won’t really need any smart clothes.
If you are planning on going somewhere fancy then maybe bring along one smart outfit.
Can I Wear Shorts In Laos?
Yes, you can wear shorts in Laos.
Some countries around the world don’t really approve of shorts but Laos certainly isn’t one of them.
Nobody will look at you weird if you wear shorts and a t-shirt around Laos. In fact, you’ll probably see most of the locals wearing this anyway.
I’d personally go for a pair of polyester shorts over denim as you’ll feel a lot better in the heat.
What Do You Wear To A Temple In Laos?
When visiting a temple in Laos, you should dress modestly by covering your shoulders and knees.
Whilst it’s fine to wear shorts when wandering around the streets in Laos, you can’t wear them to a temple.
Temples are sacred sites and so there is a certain dress code that you’ll need to adhere to if you want to enter.
The rule is that you must cover your shoulders and your knees. This goes for both men and women.
You could also go for a long skirt like this one too if you prefer.
You can often hire sarongs at the temples if you don’t have anything with you.
What Not To Wear In Laos?
There isn’t really anything you can’t wear in Laos. Although Laos is a bit more conservative than neighboring Thailand, it’s fine to wear most types of clothing including shorts and t-shirts.
The only thing I would say is to only wear your bathing suit at the pool or waterfall. As soon as you leave the area, put something over the top to cover yourself a bit more.
It’s fine to wear a bathing suit in Laos but it might not be appropriate to wear it on the streets or in a restaurant so keep a cover up in your bag for this purpose.
What Shoes Should I Wear In Laos?
I pretty much always go for sneakers as I find them to be much more comfy than sandals but it’s completely up to you.
Sandals are a good option though as you’ll feel much cooler in the heat and they’re great if you’re visiting during the rainy season.
Another pro of sandals is that they’re easy to slip on and off. If you’re going to be visiting a lot of temples then you might be asked to remove your shoes occasionally before entering.
I hate having to mess around with my shoelaces whenever this happens!
If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking then you may want something more sturdy such as a pair of boots.
Can You Wear A Swimsuit In Laos?
As I mentioned, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a bikini or swimsuit in Laos.
If you’re visiting somewhere like Vang Vieng where tubing is a popular activity, you’ll see pretty much everyone in a swimsuit or shorts.
It’s best to bring something to wear over your swimsuit after you’ve finished tubing such as a t- shirt, sarong or dress. This beach cover-up would be perfect.
You’ll want to have something like that in your bag as it may not be considered appropriate to walk around town in a swimsuit.
Laos is also home to some stunning waterfalls and natural pools that you can swim in such as Kuang Si Falls which is close to Luang Prabang.
Again, you can wear a swimsuit whilst swimming here but make sure you cover up a bit when heading back into the town.
What To Wear At Night In Laos
In the evenings, I’d recommend wearing casual clothes as nobody really dresses up in Laos.
For women, I’d recommend a casual dress or a nice top paired with shorts. To be honest, you could just wear the same thing you wore in the day and nobody would really care.
I would probably go for a flowy dress like this and because it’s long, it will keep those pesky mosquitoes away.
For men, you can wear a casual t-shirt with shorts or long pants. It’s really up to you.
At nighttime, you might wanna pack a pair of long pajamas as this is when the mosquitoes come out to bite.
Although it’s hot in Laos, you’ll be glad you covered your skin as it’ll protect you from the mosquitoes.
Malaria and dengue fever are present in Laos and these are both carried by mosquitoes. The best way to avoid being bitten at night is to simply cover as much skin as possible.
You could also get some mosquito repellent as well to protect yourself.
Other Things To Pack For Laos
In the northern part of Laos, you’ll find a lot of mountains.
If you’re planning on visiting them then it’s a good idea to pack a jacket or jumper as it can get a little chilly up there in the evenings due to the altitude.
You should also pack a good pair of hiking boots if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking.
If you’re visiting during the rainy season from May to September then you’ll also need a light raincoat.
This type of raincoat is the one you’ll see all the locals wearing as it’s super lightweight but keeps you dry.
You may experience short (but often heavy) bursts of rain so a raincoat is a must.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this complete guide on what to wear in Laos.
One way to really connect with the locals is to learn a few common phrases in Lao. I promise this will put a huge smile on their faces!