Lao weather is best described as tropical. Most days of the year are usually warm and sunny with average temperature around 29 degrees C. In the cooler months, it drops to about 15 – 20 degrees C. However, temperatures are greatly affected by altitude. The country’s average temperatures often reduce by several °C at a higher altitude. As a general rule, northern, central and eastern regions are at a higher altitude than those in the south, especially the Mekong River valley, where is its lowest humidity and temperatures are higher.
Laos has two distinct seasons: dry season from November to April or early in May, and rainy season from May to October, though it may start a little early in a couple of Laos’ northern provinces. August is the wettest month while April is the hottest month in Laos.
Rainy season (Lao Weather)
In the rainy season, the humidity is much higher. Apart from all-day torrential downpours, rain lasts for only a few hours each day and leaves beautiful clear blue skies and rainbows after the afternoon downpours. The topography of Laos is mainly mountainous leading to landslides when a downpour happens. Consequently, land transport during Laos’ wet season can be slow and soggy. Also, with all this rainfall, the rivers can become beastly and delays due to bridges being down are quite common. Don’t be surprised if your trip takes longer than expected.
Dry season (Lao Weather)
Lao dry season runs from November to April or early May, and has two distinct sections. The cool dry season runs from November to February and the hot dry season from March to April. The latter only lasts for a short time so it makes up for in ferocity – it’s very hot. Another reason is the smoke factor that makes the hot season even more unbearable. Farmers usually slash and burn in preparation for a new rice crop from March to May. The resulting fires cover most of Laos in a layer of smoke which can diminish the views and irritate to the eyes.
On the other hand, the cool dry season is the tourist season in Laos. The temperature is relatively low, the air is cleaner and, particularly in November and December and the rivers are high enough to make river travel a breeze. No surprisingly, this period in Laos is the peak season for travellers.
What you should pack when travelling to Laos
You should bring clothing and accessories depending on the time of year you plan to visit Laos. Umbrella is always necessary in both rainy and dry seasons.
If you travel in the hot dry season, light cotton clothes are recommended and remember to include some shirts with sleeves and long pants if you plan to visit temples. You also should bring a few extra clothes if you come during the Lao New Year period as it might be wet everywhere thus you might need to change more often. Make sure not to overpack because there are laundries everywhere in Laos and it costs a couple of dollars at most to have your clothes washed and ironed.
If you travel to Laos during cool dry season (November – February), thicker clothes are recommended. The weather can be quite cool in the mornings, particularly in the northern provinces, bringing a light jacket or a fleece and some jeans or trainers would be a great ideal, especially you intend to travel by boat, tuk-tuk or sangtaew.
Most type of shoes and sandals are highly recommended for Lao climate, especially during hot season or visiting temples. You will need to take your shoes off when entering temples and often in people’s houses. Footwear is cheap in Laos so you can pick up some suitable shoes or some cheap sandals in Laos without bringing them from homes.