The best time to visit Laos

Updated: 06th March 2018

Luang Prabang temple - Best time to visit Laos - On The Go Tours
The dry season is the best time for sightseeing in Luang Prabang

Seasons and Weather

Generally speaking Laos has two distinct seasons - the dry season between October and April, and the wet season from May to September. However, given the varying altitude of the country, the temperatures during these times can vary quite considerably. As a land-locked country, Laos benefits from a more simple weather system than other parts of Southeast Asia. Overall November through to April are the best months to travel to Laos, when the weather is warm and dry and the nights are comfortably cool. Temperatures typically begin to rise around March and the rain arrives in May or June. From June through to August the humidity can soar and short tropical downpours are common. September and October can still bring the occasional shower.

The start of the dry season (October) is a great time to visit Laos. The countryside is still lush and green, the temperatures aren’t too high (24 – 26°c) and the rains begin to ease off. From November through to February the river levels are still quite high and the temperature is on the up. However, be prepared for the evenings to be quite chilly in some places especially in the north and highlands of Laos. March and April see some of the warmest temperatures in Laos (30 – 34°c) due to it being the end of the dry season plus it is the start of the farmer’s ‘slash and burn’ practice where they dispose of all the remaining plant life from the harvest in time for the impending wet season.

May sees the start of the annual wet season in Laos and lasts until September. Like many other Southeast Asian countries the daily down pours can be short and sharp but rarely stay around all day. Temperatures are still quite high (30°c+) but with the frequent deluges, the countryside transforms into a beautiful verdant wonderland and the dry spells bring clear blue skies, so it can be a picture perfect time to visit Laos.

Climate | Vientiene

Temp Min °C141719232324242424211816
Temp Max °C283033343232313131312928
Rainfall (mm)51513899267302267292302209153

Climate | Luang Prabang

Temp Min °C131417212323232323211815
Temp Max °C283234363534323233322927
Rainfall (mm)151831109163155231300165793113

Climate | Pakse

Temp Min °C141619182020201921201816
Temp Max °C222425232424242223252422
Rainfall (mm)609306314484135964560
Procession of monks in Laos - On The Go Tours
A procession of robed monks receiving alms on the streets of Luang Prabang

Festivals and Events

The people of Laos like a good celebration and there's plenty of reasons to put on a festival with a calendar of events that mark the agricultural seasons or honour important dates linked to the life of Buddha. Here's a selection of our favourite.

Lao Food Festival

Run by the Lao Women's Union and Lao Businesswomen's Association, this festival is in its eleventh year and brings together traditional Lao cuisine for everyone to try. It's held in Vientiane over the course of three days in January.

Boun Ma Kha Bu Saar (Full Moon) Festival

Celebrated in temples and Wats across the country with the biggest celebrations taking place at the Khmer ruins of Vat Phu Champasack, this festival marks the day when Buddha delivered a speech to some 1,250 monks with chanting, candles and processions.

Boun Pi Mai (New Year) Festival

This is one of the most important celebrations in Laos with three days dedicated as a public holiday during which families get together to clean out their homes, provide offerings to local temples and decorate images of Buddha with flowers. Like Songkran in Thailand, it's a time for frivolity with friendly water fights held on the streets.

Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)

Held between April and June each year, this loud and boisterous celebration invites people across Laos to set off handmade rockets in order to herald in the rains for the forthcoming harvest. Music and dance performances accompany the main event alongside colourful processions in the larger towns and cities.

Boun Khao Padabdin (Rice Growing) Festival

Laos' version of the Day of the Dead, every September families across the country honour dead relatives and ancestors with offerings of rice and over foods. For visitors, a highlight of the festival is the handmade boats that are raced along the Mekong River in conjunction with Boun Khao Padabdin.

Boun Ok Phansa

This festival honours the Buddhist monks that have spent the last three months fasting for lent with offerings of food presented to local temples. It's a pretty time to visit with flowers and candles set adrift on rivers to symbolise the letting go of bad luck.

That Luang Festival

During the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (November) thousands of monks and pilgrims descend on the gold-covered Grand Stupa (Pha That Luang) in Vientiane. Bearing candles and floral votives, it's a particularly joyous time to visit though accommodation and other services book up quickly.

2018 Calendar

To help plan your visit to Laos here's an overview of the 2018 festivals and events taking place:

January 24th-27th - Lao Food Festival (Vientiane)
April 14th-18th - Boun Pi Mai New Year Festival (countrywide)
May 11th-13th - Boun Bang Fai Rocket Festival (countrywide)
July 28th - Boun Khao Padabdin (countrywide)
October 24th - Boun Ok Phansa (countrywide)
November 22nd - That Luang Festival (Vientiane)
December 2nd - Lao National Day (countrywide)

There's also a number of national holidays in Laos and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

See Also

Take a look at our handy Travel Guide resources for further help planning your visit to Laos:

Best Places to Visit - where to go and what to see in Laos
Tourist Visas - information on visa regulations for Laos
Top Travel Tips - useful info on money, health and food in Laos
Traveller Reviews - find out what our customers think