November to January is the best time to visit lowland Laos, when daytime temperatures are agreeably warm, evenings are slightly chilly and the countryside is green and lush after the rains. However, at higher elevations temperatures are significantly cooler, sometimes dropping to freezing point. In February, temperatures begin to climb, reaching a peak in April, when the lowlands are baking hot and humid. During this time, the highlands are, for the most part, equally hot if a bit less muggy than the lowlands, though there are places, such as Paksong on the Bolaven Plateau, that have a temperate climate year-round. Due to slash-and-burn agriculture, much of the north, including Luang Prabang, becomes shrouded in smoke from March until the beginning of the monsoon, which can at times be quite uncomfortable, and of course doesn’t do your photographs any favours. The rainy season (generally May to September) affects the condition of Laos’s network of unpaved roads, some of which become impassable after the rains begin. On the other hand, rivers which may be too low to navigate during the dry season become important transport routes after the rains have caused water levels to rise. Note that the climate in some northern areas – notably Phongsali and Hua Phan (Sam Neua) – can be surprisingly temperamental, even in the hot season, so you could have one scorcher of a day, followed by a cold, wet day that’s enough to convince you you’re no longer in Southeast Asia.
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