Laos' new visa policy for international travelers

A woman in traditional Lao clothing, Laos

Laos is developing strategies to strengthen its tourism sector. The "Visit Laos 2024" initiative was launched this year to attract more international tourists in 2024-2025 and showcase the country's unique culture, lifestyle and business opportunities. The Lao government expects these efforts to help revitalize and strengthen the tourism industry, which plays a key role in the nation's economy.

Souanesavan Vignaketh, Laos' Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, announced a series of temporary visa facilitation measures that will be in place from July 1 to December 2024. These measures are aimed at easing the travel planning process for international travelers and giving them more freedom while in the country.

Laos' visa policy has undergone the following changes:

  • The introduction of 15-day visa-free travel for Chinese tourists, including citizens of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Visa-free entry is available for group tours organized by licensed agencies registered with the Lao Ministry of Tourism. This is aimed at increasing the number of Chinese tourists, who are already a significant part of inbound tourist traffic to Laos, second only to Thailand and Vietnam. However, Taiwanese nationals must apply for a visa sheet on arrival, which is returned when leaving Laos.
  • Extended the validity of multiple-entry visas from 30 to 60 days. Citizens of 22 countries can now obtain multiple-entry visas through Lao diplomatic missions. However, when obtaining a visa on arrival or online, only single entry for up to 60 days is granted. The innovations affect citizens of Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Russia and several European countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
  • Tourists from Thailand traveling with certain documents can now stay in Laos for up to 10 days. Vietnamese citizens traveling with similar documents can stay in the country for up to 15 days. Meanwhile, tourists from these countries who arrive through approved travel agencies can visit three adjacent provinces near their point of entry. However, to leave Laos, the same border post through which entry was made must be used.
  • Citizens from a number of European countries, including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Greece, are exempted from visa requirements for the first 15-day visit to Laos, for tourism purposes.

These initiatives reflect Laos' desire to strengthen its position as an attractive tourist destination and increase tourism's contribution to the country's economic well-being. The changes are expected to significantly increase the number of foreign visitors.