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Guide to life in Laos for expats

Guide to life in Laos for expats

Living in Laos

Laos is quite a small Asian country. It is bordered by Burma and People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. The majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Most expats come here to work with NGOs and charitable organisations. If you love hiking, camping and exploring then you will love this landlocked country. We have the basic info to get you started on your new life in Laos.


Expat Clubs

WIG Laos
The Women’s International Group (WIG) was formed in the early 1990s in Vientiane, Lao PDR by a small group of expatriate women.  They felt a need to have an organization which would support women who moved to Lao PDR.  WIG gave these women a place where they could meet others like themselves, make friends and take part in activities while living in Lao PDR.

Address: Monument Books, #124/1, Nokeokumman Rd, Ban Mixay, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 21 243 708
Website: www.wiglaos.org/

International Schools 

Vientiane International School
Vientiane International School is an International Baccalaureate World School, providing education to the expatriate and Lao community of Vientiane since 1991. They are accredited by the Council of International Schools and Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: PO BOX 3180, Phonesavanh Roa, Saphanthong Tai Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 21 486001
Mobile: +856 20 2222 9360
Fax: +856 21 486009
Email: contact@ourvis.com
Website: www.vislao.com
The Australian International School in Laos
The Australian International School of Laos was established in 2011 to provide an Australian type Curriculum for the children of Lao and expatriates living in Laos. They offer a fully Australian Curriculum. It provides a balanced combination of direct teaching and enquiry-based learning, supported by a strong co-curricular program. 
AIS delivers the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy) annually to all students in year3, 5, 7, and 9. AIS students also study for the HSC (Higher School Certificate) in year 12. The HSC is an internationally recognized diploma.

Curriculum: Australian
Address: Ban Nongduoang Tay, Sikkhotabong Dist, Vientiane Lao PDR.
Tel: +856 21264800
Mobile: +856 2022220526, +856 2022220528
Email: info@aisedulaos.com
Website: www.aisedulaos.com
Panyathip International School
Panyathip International School is a private institution consisting of an English and Lao medium kindergarten, primary and secondary schools operated under the regulations of the Ministry of Education, Laos. The primary and secondary schools also offer programs approved by University of Cambridge International Examinations.
Curriculum: British
Address (Kindergarten): Saphanthong Tai Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane Lao PDR
Tel: +856 30 983 3999, +856 30 981 8999
Email: kindergarten@pislao.com or panyathipkiddy@yahoo.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/pages/Panyathip-Kindergarten
Website: www.panyathipkid.com
Address (Primary & Secondary): Saphanthong Neua Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 412 825
Fax: +856 21 414 913
Email: admin@pislao.com or panyathip@yahoo.com.sg
FB:  www.facebook.com/pages/Panyathip-International-School
Website: www.pislao.com
Alpha International Montessori School
Alpha International Montessori School (AIMS) is a private school founded in 2009. They offe the unique teaching philosophies of Dr Maria Montessori through our Toddler Program, Twos Program, and Pre-school Program. The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. Montessori is designed to help children grow from childhood to maturity, drawing its principles from the natural development of the child. This inherent flexibility means the method can be adapted to the needs of each individual, regardless of ability level, learning style, or social maturity.

Curriculum: Montessori
Address: Hom 9, House # 282, Ban Thongkang, Sisattanak District, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 313 046
Email: alpha.ims@gmail.com
Website: aimsmontessori.net/

Local News in English

Vientiane Times
Vientiane Times, the first English newspaper in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, officially launched as a weekly tabloid in April 1994. By 1996 the newspaper published twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays, expanding to Monday to Friday in 2004 and adding a Saturday edition in 2007. The newspaper covers a wide range of domestic and international news and provides information reflecting government policy and socio-economic development in the Lao PDR.
Website: www.vientianetimes.org.la/
KPL Lao News Agency
KPL is the main information source in the country. It collects and supplies news to newspapers, radio and TV stations.
Website: www.kpl.net.la/

Country Information 

Location: Asia
Capital City: Vientiane  
Currency: Kip
Language: Lao
Calling Code: 856
Internet TLD: .la
Electricity: Laos runs on 230V 50Hz. Electricity is provided by Electricite du Laos, a state corporation that generates, transmits and distributes power throughout the country.
Address: Lao-Thai Frienship Road, P.O Box 309, B,  Thongkang, Sisattanak District. Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR. 
Tel: +856-21 +856 21 312791, +856 21 351980
Fax: +856-21 314236
Email: edlmdo@edl.com.la
Website: www.edl.com.la
Emergency Numbers:
Ambulance: 195
Fire: 190
Police: 192
Country Information
Country Study

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Only a few countries in Asia may enter Laos and stay visa-free for a limited period. Most countries including the Americas, Europe and Australia may obtain a visa upon arrival at any one of these airports:
  • Vientiane Wattay International Airport
  • Luang Prabang International Airport
  • Pakse International Airport
  • Savannakhet International Airport
The following countries must obtain a visa must obtain a visa from a Laos embassy or consulate: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria (Syrian Arab republci), Swaziland, Tonga, Turkey, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Long-term stay in Laos, legally at least, will require a Business visa. This can be applied only from within the country. These are for people willing to invest in the country or start up a business. The process is fickle. Most expatriates who want to stay for long go on ‘visa runs’ to extend their tourist visas.


Most expats opt to rent short-term accommodation like guesthouses, hotels and resorts in Laos, given the current immigration laws that do not accommodate longer stay and the limited employment market.
The capital Vientiane is the more popular area, with its urban progressive atmosphere. Stretched just beside the Mekong River, the city is filled with cultural landmarks and religious iconography.

Driving License

Foreigners may use their international driving license to drive legally in Laos. A domestic license can be used to obtain a Laos license, without taking a test for Kip 90,000. The validity is for 1 year only. Car insurance is also advisable.
The more popular mode of transportation in Laos is motorbikes. Purchasing second-hand vehicles is also relatively cheaper than getting a new one can be expensive.


Medical facilities in Laos are limited and below standards. They have basic healthcare which can treat minor and less complex cases. For more urgent and severe cases, expats travel to the neighboring Thailand to seek medical attention. Counterfeit medications are also prevalent, so stocking up personal medications is highly advised.

Avian influenza or (H5N1) is still a concern especially in the region, precaution must be taken in travelling to certain parts of the country with poultry farms, live food markets.
A comprehensive health insurance than can cover or reimburse cots of medical treatment, evacuation or repatriation is highly recommended.
Health Insurance
Allianz General Laos
AGL Health Insurance provides reimbursement of your medical and hospital expenses. In the event of illness or hospitalization, some expenses may carry to you. With AGL Health Insurance, you will be reimbursed for all related expenses as follows:
  • Room and meal fees
  • Medicines and drugs
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) service
  • Surgical/operational fees
  • Anesthetics
  • Medical fees for accident injuries
Address: 33 Lane Xang Avenue, 2nd Floor ANZ Commercial Building,
P.O. Box 4223 Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 215 903 Ext: 159
Fax: +856 21 215904
Email: agl@agl-allianz.com
Website: www.agl-allianz.com/
Australian Embassy Health Centre
Address: P.O. Box 292, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 21 413 603
Fax: +856 21 414 700
Mahosot hospital
Address: Fa Ngoum Road, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 21 214 023, +856 21 214 022
Fax: +856 21 214 020
Mittaphab Lao Soviet (Friendship Hospital)
Address: PO Box 6035, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 21 710 003
Fax: +856 21 710 663
Settathirath Hospital
Address: Donekoi road, PO Box 1987, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 21 351 159
Fax: +856 21 351 160
Swedish Embassy Clinic
Address: Sok Paluang, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856 31 5015

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