Laos Weather

Lao Weather &
When is the best time to visit?

To have the most out of your journey, one of the important points you must learn is the weather, which helps you find the time to best explore and gain the deepest experience of the destination.

Within the scope of this article, you are going to find the overview of Laos weather and the best time to visit this sleeping beauty.

Laos weather overview

Despite having two distinct weather seasons you can travel in Laos all-year-round and with no coastline to influence things, Laos’ weather system is relatively straight-forward compared with much of Asia; consisting of a dry season (October to late April) and a wet season (May to late September).

Within each season there are variations in temperature, with the dry months leading up to the wet season (March and April) and the early wet season (May and June) typically being the hottest of the year.

Temperatures throughout the country are also greatly affected by altitude with much of the country at a level that reduces the country’s average temperatures by several °C.

As a general rule north, central and eastern regions are at a higher altitude than those in the south, where at its lowest, in the Mekong River valley, humidity is higher and temperatures in excess of 35°C are not uncommon between March and April.

The early months of the wet season (May to July) remain very hot and rainfall is often short lived, whilst in the latter months (late July until September) the rains become more constant and can be heavy at times, especially in southern parts of the country.

Further north and in Luang Prabang, rainfall tends to be lighter and you can often expect rain during the night or mornings with some relatively clear afternoons.

Across Laos, throughout much of the rainy season, daytime temperatures average around 29°C in the lowlands and 23°C in the mountain valleys.

Throughout the country in all but the hottest months of the year it is often advisable to have a jumper or fleece for the evenings, when there is a tendency for it to get quite cool.

Before reading further down, please take a look at the below table to have the idea of what to expect for the weather in Laos by regions and by months

weather-by-month-by-region-travel-laos

When is the best time to visit Laos?

The small, landlocked country of Laos is best visited between late October and early April, when the weather’s warm and dry throughout.

River travel is best between November and January, when high water levels make passage easy along Laos’ main waterway, the Mekong River. Visiting the Bolaven Plateau is also pleasant at this time of year.

Laos’ geography plays a major part in shaping its climate, and cool temperatures can still be found in the highlands, which lie mainly in northern, eastern and central regions.

The ‘green season’ falls between late May and October, when the rains return to the country.

However, showers are usually short and sharp, having little impact on your exploration. At this time of year the country comes to life, with waterfalls beginning to flow once more and the lush scenery attracting a variety of wildlife.

Best time to visit some main destinations

Some of the regions are best visited during this period, but not good as others during other periods. Get to know the best time to visit each part of the country help you make your plan smoothly

Editor Note: Check out Top 10 Places to Visit in Laos

 

laos-weather-best-time-visit-travel-laos

Vientiane

The tropical capital of Laos is marked by typical wet and dry seasons.

The best time to visit Vientiane is from November to March, which is drier and slightly cooler, with lows around 17°C (63°F) and highs not quite reaching 30°C (86°F) until it starts to heat up in March.

There is almost no rain at this time of year, so tourist numbers reach their peak.

April and May are hot with highs around 34°C (93°F) and temperatures peak at around 31°C (88°F) between June and October, with lows around 24°C (75°F).

Heavy afternoon rains occur from May to September; however, this rarely affects travel.

Best time to visit Vientiane
Buddha Park, Vientiane, Laos

Luang Prabang

Temperatures in Luang Prabang are similar to Vientiane, with evenings a few degrees cooler.

The heaviest rains occur from June to August, reaching nearly 300mm (12 inches) with some rainy afternoons a couple of months either side.

November through to March is the best time to go with temperatures averaging 27°C (83°F), although some people prefer to go during wet season when there are fewer travelers and the countryside bursts with color and earthy scents after brief downpours.

Best time to visit Luang Prabang
Ferry crossing Mekong river, Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is known for its beautiful limestone karst scenery and is the adventure activity capital of Laos, where travelers go caving, rock-climbing, rafting and kayaking.

During the wet season from May to September the Nam Song River fills up and flows up to four times faster.

While this does not stop activities, extra caution must be taken.

This also applies to caving and rock-climbing as heavy rain can cause pathways to become slippery and dangerous.

This is the best time to visit to see the lush green mountains glistening after heavy afternoon rains and the spectacular scenery when it is at its finest.

Best time to visit Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng, Laos

Southern Laos

In the south of Laos, June to September experience very heavy rains with over 300mm (12 inches) each month.

This can prohibit travel by unsealed road, however this is the best time to travel by boat, a common way to get around southern Laos.

November to March is drier and cooler, the best time to travel by land, while March through May is known as the hot season, when temperatures generally reach 34°C (93°F) and evenings rarely drop below 25°C (77°F).

Best time to visit Laos
Vat Phou, Champasak, Southern Laos

Notice: Mekong River

February & March

In recent years water levels on certain stretches of the Mekong River have reached record lows during February and March.

This is not simply due to lower rainfall and global warming, but because of eight new Chinese ‘super-dams’ stemming the water flow to ensure a plentiful water supply to regions of China outside the Mekong River’s natural basin.

The result of this damming is that the river’s fish stocks are declining dramatically in the lower Mekong countries, with other wildlife expected to become quickly over-hunted as a result.

At this time a typically disappointing amount of international pressure is being applied to China to exercise more stringent control on their damming procedure to ensure the countries of the lower Mekong receive acceptable levels of water.

Editor Note: Check out 7 Best Mekong River Cruises in laos

 

Best time to cruise Mekong Laos-2
Small fishing boat on Mekong River

Month-by-month Travel Guide to Laos

It is also good to know the weather detail of every month and the festivals that will be held during the period.

Editor note: Read More about Top 10 Laos Festivals

Visit Laos in January

It’s dry throughout the country in January, with comfortably warm temperatures, although it can get quite cold in the north of the country.

It’s therefore best to wrap up during river travel, early mornings and late evenings.

River levels should be high, making this a good time to explore the country’s waterways.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Pha Vet: Held over three days and three nights, this is a religious festival celebrating the penultimate incarnation of Buddha, with the story recited in temples across the country.

Visit Laos in February

It remains dry throughout the country, with temperatures only rising a little and the north still getting quite cold during the early part of the month.

River levels should still be good; however, damming by the Chinese has impacted water levels in recent years.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Ma Kha Bu Saar/Full Moon Festival (March): This festival celebrates a speech given by Buddha. You can observe chanting and parades of worshipers bearing candles at local temples.
  • Wat Phou Festival – Champasak (February): Buddhists attend this three-day festival from across the region, taking part in processions, recitals, boat races and dances.
  • Elephant Festival – Xayabouly: The festival is held to raise the awareness of the problems that our giant friends is facing, and to find the solution to help them and the mahouts to have better life.
Elephant Festival Xayabouly - top 10 Festivals in Laos
Elephant Festival in Xayabouly

Visit Laos in March

The dry season continues, with temperatures rising throughout the country to over 30°C in places; although cooler conditions can still be found in the highlands.

Travel in the central and southern regions can be a little uncomfortable, and a top tip would be to combine southern Laos with the Bolaven Plateau, where the higher altitude gives respite from the hot climate.

River levels will be getting low at this time of year, making river travel in the north difficult and somewhat unpleasant due to the haze created by the slash and burn season, which is in full swing.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Koun Khao (March): An agricultural festival celebrated in rural villages and local temples at harvest time – a great opportunity to observe rural customs and traditions

Visit Laos in April

This is the last month of the dry season, although there is a slim chance of rain towards the end of the month.

River levels will be at an annual low, meaning river travel may be difficult in some parts of the country.

Temperatures will be at their highest throughout the country, reaching 36°C in the south, so travel may be uncomfortable.

Slash and burn will also continue to impact the surroundings and smoke and haze will normally be seen in the major towns and countryside.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Pi Mai/Lao New Year (April): A great time to visit as celebrations are held country-wide for several days. Be prepared to get wet as people are doused with scented water in the street as a cleansing ritual!

Laos New Year - top 10 festivals in Laos

Visit Laos in May

There is a chance of dry weather during the first half of the month; however, rain is expected and will almost certainly arrive by the latter stages.

River levels will again remain low and the recent damming has made this worse. Slash and burn may continue in some parts of the country until the rains arrive.

Hot and humid throughout.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Bang Fai/Rocket Festival (May or June): A festival to mark the sixth month of the lunar calendar, used as a call for rain and a celebration of fertility. Home-made fireworks are launched by locals and entered into competitions.
  • Boun Visakhaboucha (May/the sixth full moon of the lunar calendar): Candlelight processions can be observed at temples as the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha is commemorated.

Visit Laos in June

Rain will start to fall throughout most of the country; with the north seeing the least.

The rain tends to be short-lived and plenty of sunshine can still be expected away from the south of the country. Temperatures hover around the low 30°Cs.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Bang Fai/Rocket Festival (May or June): A festival to mark the sixth month of the lunar calendar, used as a call for rain and a celebration of fertility. Home-made fireworks are launched by locals and entered into competitions.
Boun Bang Fai - Rocket Festival - Top 10 Festivals in Laos
Boun Bang Fai – Rocket Festival

Visit Laos in July

The wet season is now in full swing and temperatures continue to average around 30°C. It is not uncommon for temperatures to drop a little; with cooler temperatures found in the south (specifically the Bolaven Plateau).

As it becomes wetter, lush green foliage begins to swathe the landscape in central Laos, while in the south, cascading waterfalls can be admired once more.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Khau Phansa (Khao Phansa) in Laos is the start of the three-month period sometimes referred to as “Buddhist Lent”. Boun Khao Phansa starts on the full moon of the eighth month and runs till the full moon of the eleventh month of the Buddhist Calendar.
Khao Phansaa - Beginning of the Buddhist Lent - top 10 Festivals in Laos
Boun Khao Phansaa

Visit Laos in August

Rainfall reaches its peak in August as showers become longer and more intense, and little of the country will remain dry.

River levels begin to fill up in time for the dry season approaching, and Laos’ beautiful landscapes return.

During this time, travel to remote areas can be somewhat difficult. Temperatures drop to the low 20°Cs throughout the country.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Haw Khao Padap Din is celebrated on the 15th day of the waning moon in the 9th month (Lao calendar).
    The festival is to show respect not only to one’s own ancestors, but also to the dead with no relatives to remember them.
    It is also the time to show respect to maethaulanii, the earth god. Literally, padap means decorate and din means dirt (earth).
  • Boun Haw Khao Salak: celebrates the deceased. It takes place 15 days after haw khao padap din, on the full moon of the 10th month of the Lao calendar.
    For this celebration, offerings to the dead are passed to monks during the morning ceremony at the temple, just after takbat.
    A basket is filled with food and daily amenities such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, cigarettes, etc. along with the names of the dead persons the family wishes to honor.

Visit Laos in September

Rainfall continues to peak all over the country, and travel to remote areas can still be troublesome.

However, towards the end of the month the sun will start to make an appearance and combined with the waterfalls and leafy landscape helps to make this one of the most attractive times to visit for those seeking stunning natural scenery.

Events & Festivals

  • Boat Racing Festival in Luang Prabang (September): The boat racing festival in Luang Prabang usually takes place after Boun Haw Khao Padap Din.
    Traditional racing boats are carved using one single tree. The boats belong to a village and are usually kept in a shelter on the temple grounds and come out only once a year for the race.
    Several days before the race the boats are cleaned and presented with offerings because the boats are considered sacred items.

Visit Laos in October

The drier weather returns, but some rain may still make an appearance.

On the whole, temperatures are cooler at this time of year but not uncomfortable, hovering around the mid to high 20°Cs.

This is an excellent time to visit as you will beat the crowds yet still enjoy fair weather and the fresh green landscapes created by the wet season.

Events & Festivals

  • Boun Ok Phansa (nationwide)/Boat Racing Festival (Vientiane)/Festival of the boats of light (Luang Prabang) (ten days leading up to October’s full moon): Celebrated at the end of the rainy season, elaborate boats are raced along the Mekong River and various festivities take place on the riverbank in honor of the Naga king.
    In Luang Prabang, Boun Lhai Heua Fai (festival of the boats of light) is held.
    Every family makes a small round container, using banana leaves on a section of banana trunk. They put flowers, incense sticks, candles, betel nuts and other condiments for chewing and sometimes food and money.
    At the bank of the river, they light the candles, say prayers and send the boat of light floating away. The spectacle of thousands of boats of light with their twinkling candles on the Mekong River is most moving.
  • Naga Rocket Festival – Bolikhamxay Province (October): Held on the last night of the Lao Buddhist Lent, small multi-coloured fireballs can be seen on the water where the Nam Ngum and Mekong River meet in Bolikhamxay.
Boun Lhai Heua Fai - Festival of the boats of light - top 10 Festivals in Laos
Boun Lhai Heua Fai – Festival of the boats of light

Visit Laos in November

Dry conditions are seen throughout the country, and this is the peak season for river travel, with river levels at their highest. Temperatures will be comfortable at around the mid to high 20°Cs, and flora and fauna are in abundance.

Events & Festivals

  • That Luang Festival and Trade Fair in Vientiane (November): A three-day religious festival where tens of thousands of monks and pilgrims gather at the That Luang or Grand Stupa, which is an important symbol of Laos, bearing wax candles.

Visit Laos in December

December offers a similar outlook to November, with dry, warm weather and ideal river cruising conditions. Towards the end of the month temperatures can drop in the northern parts of the country.

Events & Festivals

  • Hmong New Year: the celebration is help to give thanks to ancestors and spirits as well as to welcome in a new beginning.
    The Hmong New Year celebration—specifically based on both religious and cultural beliefs—is an “in-house” ritual that takes place annually in every Hmong household.
    The celebration is to acknowledge the completion of the rice-harvesting season—thus, the beginning of a new year—so that a new life can begin as the cycle of life continues.
Hmong New Year - Top 10 Festivals in Laos
Hmong New Year

 

With the above information, hope that you can make your own plan for your journey to Laos. If you still need more information, you can always CONTACT US to ask for the most suitable time for your plan as even during the green season, there are still plenty of things to expect.

Editor note: Read More about Top 10 Laos Festivals

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