Laos’ Entry Restrictions at Home Hinder Laotian Travel Abroad

Entry restrictions at home key to Laotian travel abroad
Entry restrictions at home key to Laotian travel abroad.

While many countries in the region have eased entry restrictions, Lao people have not yet begun traveling outwardly in earnest due to restrictions when returning home.

The Friendship Bridge connecting Laos with Nong Khai Province, Thailand, had always been a bustling port of entry, with hundreds of Laotians queuing to enter the Kingdom on any one day.

But despite Thailand’s ever-easing entry requirements, the bridge remains deserted. And while flights have slowly returned to Wattay International Airport, taking travelers to Vietnam, Bangkok, and beyond, travelers from Laos keenly await a change in restrictions before taking a lengthy vacation.

Even the expatriate community, who traveled home frequently pre-pandemic, are daunted by the prospect of lengthy entry restrictions when returning to Laos.

Laos’ entry restrictions have confused travelers from the get-go, with an unwieldy number of steps in place and an unpopular quarantine requirement leaving many feeling the effort of returning makes a potential trip abroad unexciting.

After two years of border closures, Green Zone Travel Plans, Green Passes, KYC Applications, and countless announcements of potential reopenings, Laos has painfully inched closer to a full reopening, with the hopes and dreams of travelers flung about at every turn.

But there is now a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

An announcement yesterday on the Facebook page of the Tourism Development Department suggested that a full reopening will happen in early May – for real, this time!

While an official announcement could come any day, the expected requirements for entry, according to the Department, will be a vaccination certificate and proof of a pre-departure Covid test. Undoubtedly, provisions will also be made for those who have not been vaccinated or those who have recovered from infection.

At the same time, Thailand has quietly announced that on 1 May, visitors from Laos may enter the country by land with a border pass, spending three days and two nights in the Kingdom without registering under the Thailand Pass program.

Following this, Laotian revenge travel will surely pick up speed.

Written with assistance by Cameron Darke.