Laos is a destination in Southeast Asia good for visiting all-year-round. It has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: the dry season from November to April and the wet season from May to October. Local tradition holds that there are actually three seasons, with the hot season from March to April separating the dry and wet seasons.
The dry season is the best all-round time to visit, providing an opportunity for you to experience pleasant temperatures. During the wet season, you can enjoy the lush green vegetation, together with the benefits of fewer crowds and reduced hotel prices.
Once you’ve decided to visit Laos, you have to compare the seasons and weather. Weather, however, is not the only factor. The best time to visit Laos depends also on your other preferences and how you wish to travel.
November to February: dry season, which is also the high season, the most popular time to visit Laos, with moderate temperatures, sparse rainfall and ideal conditions for river cruising.
March to April: hot season, temperatures gradually rise throughout the country and reach their highest. River levels will be at their annual low. Lao New Year Celebrations are held throughout the country, making it a great time to get wet and observe the water-throwing festivities.
May to June: hot and humid throughout, with short downpours, but otherwise mostly clear skies.
July to August: the time between high and low season for tourism. Rainfall reaches its peak and river levels begin to rise, with the possibility of flooding. Landscapes are emerald-green and beautiful cascading waterfalls have returned to life. This is a popular time for tourists to visit during their summer break.
September and October: Rainfall continues before gradually the drier weather returns. This is a good time to see the stunning natural scenery created by the wet season. The Boat Racing Festival is held, with elaborate boats racing along the Mekong River.
Dry Season — November to February
This is also known as the cool season, with lows around 15°C and highs up to 30°C. During the dry season there is almost no rain, and this is the most popular time to visit Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The ideal river cruising conditions make it a good time to explore the waterways in the Mekong region. See the Top 9 Things to Do in Luang Prabang.
In order to get around during this high season, you need to book accommodation in advance, especially during the peak Christmas and New Year period. The price of accommodation is much higher and attractions are much more crowded. Also, remember to bring some thicker clothes, as it’s quite cool at night.
Events & Festivals
Boun That Luang — the most important Theravada Buddhist festival, convened in Vientiane at Pha That Luang, the national symbol and religious monument. Monks and pilgrims gather there during the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, for a three-day religious ceremony, followed by a week of festivals.
Hot Season — March to April
Temperatures rise to over 30°C, the highest levels of the year, with average rainfall still generally less than 100mm per month. River levels are at an annual low, meaning that most rivers are hard to navigate.
Travel during this season can be rather uncomfortable, especially in the central and southern regions, as temperatures can rise as high as 38°C. If you visit around mid-April, you’re likely to experience the Lao New Year; be prepared to get wet, with water pouring all over the streets.
Events & Festivals
Lao New Year — the most widely celebrated festival in Laos; officially lasts three days from April 14th to 16th, though the celebration can last more than a week in some towns. The celebration includes religious ceremonies, pageants, traditional music, dance shows and water-pouring. It’s interesting to get involved in the water fights, as pouring water over someone means washing away the sins committed during the past year.
Wet Season — May to October
Also known as the rainy season, as rain falls throughout the country and reaches its peak in August and September. Temperatures are between 20°C and 30°C. The average rainfall can reach between 250mm to 300mm per month. It is hot and humid, with downpours mostly in the afternoons; showers and blue skies the rest of the time.
As it becomes wetter, the emerald-green landscapes are dotted with lush vegetation, blooming flowers and bright streams. It’s a must-do to go deep into the forest and see the dramatically cascading waterfalls, and seek the stunning natural scenery. Also, it’s a good time to take a river cruise to explore the 4000 Islands in southern Laos, as the river levels gradually rise. Another good option is to see the boat racing on the Mekong River. Fresher air, fewer tourists, cheaper accommodation and easier access to restaurants actually make it a good time to visit.
Obviously damaged infrastructure, such as broken-down bridges and rutted roads caused by landslides, can commonly be seen in this season. Your journey may take longer than expected if caught in a road block. Extra caution must be taken if you go to Vang Vieng for beautiful limestone karst scenery and adventure activities, as the pathways can be slippery and there is a possibility of flooding.
Events & Festivals
Boun Ok Phansa — the last day of the Buddhist lent, to pay respects to the Buddha and express gratitude to the river spirits. Offerings are made at temples in the morning and colorful floats decorated with flowers and candles are set adrift down the rivers.
Boat Racing Festival — celebrated at the end of the rainy season to honor the Naga King. Elaborate carved boats occupied by rowers start to compete from upstream along the Mekong River. This combination of entertainment and commemoration has become a tradition over many years.
Continue to read Laos Monthly Weather.
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