Laos: Weather & when to go
It’s possible to enjoy a holiday to Laos all year round but, nonetheless, you should still be aware of the seasonal differences that exist. Broadly speaking, there are two distinctive seasons in Laos: the dry season (between October and April) and the wet season (between May and September). However, it is also important to note that temperatures will still vary at different times during these seasons and that they are also subjective to the region – especially those located at high altitudes. During the rainy season, most of Laos will experience average temperatures of 29°C, and 33°C during the dry season.
Geographically, the south is the hottest region on average and it is likely that temperatures will exceed 35°C during the end of wet season, most notably in the regions that border Cambodia. Humidity levels will also be exceptionally high during this period as the final phase of the wet season is often the warmest. During these same periods, average temperatures in the higher terrains of the north are likely to be 5 to 6°C cooler but further variations can exist. Due to the seasonal variability of Laos and the extreme weather conditions in can receive in relation to high temperatures and heavy rainfall, packing carefully and appropriately, is highly recommended.
Planning a visit to Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is one of Laos’ most beautiful regions but it is important that you are aware of the local climate and how it differs throughout the year. Typically, Luang Prabang is cooler than most locations in the country due to the altitude of the region and its two-phase dry season. As a result, evening temperatures can be surprisingly cool during December and January, dropping to around 17°C. However, from March onwards it is possible to encounter temperatures above 31°C. Because of its high altitudes and jungle terrain, rainfall events can be very heavy during the wet season that falls between May and October, although most showers are relatively short during the first half of the season.
Planning a visit to the Mekong River region (February & March)
It can be sometimes difficult to visit the Mekong River region due to unpredictable water levels that have reached record lows in recent years. These levels are due to a combination of factors, including climate change and changes in rainfall events, as well as the development of Chinese dams that have unfortunately altered water flows along the river.
Generally speaking, the best time of year to visit the region is in January as this coincides with optimal temperatures (around 24°C in Vientiane), plenty of sunshine, and limited rainfall. However, please note that if you embark on a river cruise along the Mekong, stops in regions at higher altitudes will mean that visitors may be exposed to temperatures around 15°C or below (which are considered ‘cold’ by local standards), especially during the evenings.
For visitors that plan to travel to Laos in either February or March, most will still encounter highly favorable weather conditions. These months are also considered to be dry and relatively moderate in terms of average temperatures (normally around 24°C in most parts and 30°C in the Laotian islands). However, please note that once again, travel to the north of the country (e.g. Phongsali or Luang Namtha) will coincide with cooler evening temperatures that will require you to bring appropriate clothing.
When's the best time to visit Laos?
Travel during the shoulder season to still enjoy excellent weather and benefit from smaller crowds and lower hotel costs, especially in Luang Prabang.