It’s genuinely possible to have a great holiday in Laos at any time of year, and we’d never just say that to encourage people to travel. Travel in each month has its own benefits and challenges – the ‘best’ time depends on your preferences and what you want to experience.
Laos has just two seasons: wet and dry. However, its mountainous landscapes means you can actually encounter very different temperatures and weather conditions in different areas. In general, the northern, central and eastern regions of the country are higher and cooler, while the southern regions around the Mekong River valley are lower and hotter. Travel is possible all year round, with each month bringing its own benefits and challenges.
October to April: Dry season
Deciding when to travel during the dry season is really just deciding how hot you want to be. December and January are the ‘coldest’ months, with chilly mornings and daytime temperatures typically in the high teens in Luang Prabang. The mercury begins to climb in February, and by March and April it’s very hot: expect low-to-mid 30s, depending on where you are. Laos New Year falls in April, and the tradition of water-throwing can bring some welcome relief from the heat.
The final two months of the dry period (March and April) are slash-and-burn season, when farmers burn any vegetation leftover from the harvest. This can create very bad air quality and poor visibility in affected areas, and the landscape is parched — meaning Laos isn’t really at its loveliest. Best avoided, if you ask us.
If you’re planning a cruise on the Mekong we recommend travelling in November or December, as this is when river levels are at their highest.
“I sailed on Pandaw through Laos in November and it was a great time to be there – hot and sunny, so the perfect weather to enjoy the stunning scenery floating past”Paul O’Brien, Flights Manager
May to September: Green season
Monsoon rains begin to fall on Laos in May, peaking in July and August before calming to an insignificant quantity by October. Temperatures and humidity levels are high, particularly in May and June, but the rains make it seem cooler than the charts would suggest.
Though most tourists avoid this time of year, we think that’s a real shame. There’s a reason we call it the ‘green’ season: this time of year sees Laos is at its most beautiful, with paddies full of rice, radiant jungles, and raging waterfalls — and it rarely rains for more than a short burst at a time.
The downside is that already rugged, rural roads get slower and more dangerous, and trekking paths can be sticky and slippery – not recommended. That said, other regions are perfect for a visit — the Bolaven Plateau and 4,000 Islands are two such examples, both absolutely spectacular at this time of year.
“Avoid the crowds of peak travel times and go in shoulder or green season. Picture this… take a dip in the turquoise waters at Kuang Si Waterfalls and have the place all to yourselves. This way my experience from my latest trip to Laos in June”Jon Fisher, Southeast Asia Travel Consultant
If you’re still not sure when to travel to Laos, why not chat with one of our Southeast Asia travel consultants about your trip? They can recommend destinations and activities for any time of year, making the planning process easy.