Travelling through Laos with children can be both challenging and fun, but the rewards far outweigh any negatives. The presence of children can help break the ice with locals, especially as the Lao people are so family-focused, but long, bumpy journeys and poor sanitation can make things a struggle at times.
Laos’ s lack of adequate healthcare facilities is a major concern for parents, so sufficient travel insurance is a must for peace of mind. It’s worth taking a first aid set with you, as well as a rehydration solution in case of diarrhoea, which can be quite dangerous in young children. Rabies is a problem in Laos, so explain to your children the dangers of playing with animals and consider a rabies vaccination before departing.
In tourist areas it should be no problem finding food that kids will eat, and dishes like spring rolls, fried rice and fõe, where chilli is added by the diner, are a good choice for those who may not be used to the spiciness of Lao cuisine.
A major consideration will be the long journeys that are sometimes necessary when travelling around the country – these can be bone-numbing at the best of times, and young children may find them excruciatingly boring. That said, bus journeys are a real “local” experience that can make more of an impression than wandering around temples. It is easy, however, to see a fair amount of the country by sticking to journeys of less than six hours.
Most hotels and guesthouses are very accommodating to families, often allowing children to stay for free in their parents’ room, or adding an extra bed or cot to the room for a small charge.
If you’re travelling with babies, you’ll have difficulty finding nappies (diapers) throughout Laos. For short journeys, you could bring a supply of nappies from home; for longer trips, consider switching over to washables.
For more advice on travelling with children, consult The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children.