Laos has officially announced it will reopen for tourism on 1 January 2022, providing more information on travel conditions during a press conference held at the Lao National Convention Center today.
According to the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, the reopening will be implemented in three phases.
The first phase will be from 1 January to 30 March 2022, the second phase from 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022, and the third phase from 1 July 2022 onward.
According to the ministry, tourists from an initial list of countries will be allowed to travel to the country during the first phase.
The list of countries includes China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, United States, Canada, and Australia.
A secondary list of countries including Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Israel, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, New Zealand, Poland, Denmark, and Belgium has been proposed and is currently being considered.
Tourism will be restricted to group tours at first, with tours arranged by authorized tour operators under the Lao Travel Green Zone Plan.
Tourists will be required to have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no less than 14 days prior to arrival. Other conditions include a health insurance policy with coverage no less than USD 50,000 and a negative RT-PCR test taken within the last 72 hours.
Arrivals will be tested for Covid-19 and placed in a 24-hour quarantine in their hotel until a negative result is found.
Tourists will be required to download and register via the LaoKYC mobile application prior to arriving in the country, as well as uploading their relevant vaccination certification and Covid-19 test results.
Travel Zones & Travel Trails
Under the reopening scheme, tourists will be authorized to travel within two zones, namely Green Travel Zones and Green Travel Trails.
Green Travel Zones include provinces that have at least a 70% vaccination rate among the eligible adult population, while Green Travel Trails have not yet achieved this level of vaccine coverage.
During Phase 1, tourists may visit Vientiane Capital, Luang Prabang Province, and Vang Vieng District in Vientiane Province.
Meanwhile, five provinces will be authorized for Green Travel Trails, including Oudomxay, Xayaboury, Xieng Khouang, Khammouane, and Champasack.
During Phase 2, the Green Travel Zones will consist of 9 provinces: Vientiane Capital, Vientiane Province, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Xayaboury, Xieng Khouang, Khammouane, Savannakhet, and Champasack.
Four provinces will be authorized for Green Travel Trails during Phase 2, including Houay Xay District in Bokeo Province, Luang Namtha Province, Sekong Province, and Salavanh Province.
According to the Ministry of Health, tourism-related establishments such as tourism sites, hotels, and restaurants in the zones must ensure that at least 95% of their staff are fully vaccinated. All tour guides and drivers must be completely vaccinated. At least 95% of the population within the travel zones must be fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health has stated that it will improve the quality of quarantine centers, treatment centers, and field hospitals in the event of hospitalization or seriously symptomatic cases for tourists. Asymptomatic and mild cases will be allowed to be quarantined and treated at their designated hotel.
All eligible tourism establishments are encouraged to submit an application to operate in the travel zones via this link.
During Phase 1, tourists will be able to enter Laos by air via Wattay International Airport and by land across the First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in Vientiane Capital.
More borders will reopen in Phase 2, including Luang Prabang International Airport, Boten-Bohan border with China in Luang Namtha Province, the Third Friendship Bridge in Thakhek, the Second Friendship Bridge in Savannakhet, the Chongmek border in Pakse, the Lao Bao border with Vietnam in Savannakhet Province, and Nam Phao border (Luk Xao) with Vietnam in Bolikhamxay Province.
Safe and Clean
It is recommended that all tourism establishments in the zones be certified with the LaoSafe certification.
LaoSafe, a health and hygiene program for the tourism and hospitality sector, has received official approval from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICT).
The LaoSafe program comprises a series of health and hygiene standards for different subsectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, including accommodation providers, food and beverage outlets, airlines, tourist attractions, tour guides, and drivers.
Procedures for Tour Companies
Tour companies and relevant businesses who wish to participate in the Green Travel Zones and Green Travel Trails must register with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI).
Tour companies in Laos must prepare the following documentation in order to request permission for tourists to enter: a proposal from the company, a tour itinerary, hotel reservations, and copies of tourists’ passports, vaccination certificates, and tourists’ insurance policies.
These documents must be presented to the Tourism Management Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. After approval, the documents are sent to the Immigration Police Department to process entry authorization.
Returnees and Foreign Nationals in Laos
The Ministry has not yet provided information on requirements for Lao nationals or foreign residents returning to Laos, or if the issuance of visitor visas would resume.