As a rule Laos is a very safe country to travel in. People are friendly and honest and the crime rate is low. However, as with any place there are certain things you should look out for so that you can make sure you stay safe while you travel.
Most people will have trouble changing large kip notes, so it is essential to carry a selection of smaller notes as well. Change larger notes at banks, luxurious hotels and upmarket shops.
Tap water is undrinkable, so make sure you buy bottled water, even for brushing your teeth. Bottled water is cheap and can be purchased at most shops.
Lao people don’t follow western queuing methods and trying to form a polite line to buy your bus ticket or at the post office will simply mean that you get pushed to the side. Be assertive and don’t be afraid to elbow your way into position, nobody will think any less of you for it.
Although crime is low in Laos, money and belongings do occasionally go missing from hotel rooms. There is also sometimes pick-pocketing and bag snatching on crowded buses. Stay alert and keep your valuables with you.
Buy a good padlock for your bag and hotel door. You may find that windows don’t always fasten properly and you should fasten them securely with a cable lock.
There is a risk of banditry is some of the less travelled regions of Laos. If you plan to explore off the tourist trail it is a good idea to take a guide with you or consult a local tour company to find out which areas are at risk.
There are also a number of unexploded bombs left over from the Second Indochina War. Although tourist areas have been swept carefully, many areas of jungle and farmland remain uncleared. Be sure to stick to well worn paths when exploring and consult a tour company before wandering off on your own.
Remember to carry your passport or ID document with you all the times in order to avoid a fine.