Visiting Asia with children is getting more and more popular and for good reason, as the Asian, and of course also the Lao mentality, is very child friendly. If traveling with children in Asia, you will experience that local staff will help you out constantly on your travels. The Lao culture is very child-friendly when it comes to traveling.
Traveling with Family and kids in Laos may build a great intercultural bridge, as your kids will eventually get into verbal or non-verbal communication and playing with other children, which again, for the parents will open doors to experience the local Lao life and culture, unspoiled, friendly and unforgettable…
We want to clearly encourage families to travel in Laos, since we have done so numerous times and supported other families from around the globe to make their way through Laos with children in an easy and child-friendly way,…which means fun for both parents and children.
1. First overseas trip with your children
If you take little ones on your family trip to Laos or Asia, plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt and be realistic about what you can cover. The less you feel you have to pack in, the more enjoyable and stress-free the holiday – and you’ll be able to take the odd day indoors if the weather is bad or your kids need to rest. If you have older kids and teenagers, then a visit to Laos with your family is perfect as you can pack it all in and keep them on the move, make it adventurous and challenging so they don’t get bored. Of course, make sure you add in a couple of free days here and there to re-group.
2. Traveling with another family in Laos or Asia
Think about traveling with children and with another family, or other adults before you go. Discuss and level out on what each person wants to do and what expectations and interests each one is following. Find an agreement in advance on how to split chores or how to take turns in watching, playing, going out with the children, or more importantly going out without the children. Also, talk about the balance of spending time together and apart. Come to an agreement about the way you split the bills when going out, which will help you every time you enjoy a meal together. Again, Laos is a perfect place and already comes with a pace that accommodates family travel very well. It’s about you then making the best out of it.
3. Family Travel with serious allergies
If a family member has serious allergies, you might want them to travel with a card that details this, in the language of your destination, what they’re allergic to and how serious the condition is. Allergy & Anaphylaxis from Australia has some helpful information at their website which may come in handy if you travel to Laos with your children or in Asia in general.
4. Hotels & room shares with children and families
If you’re on a budget family trip through Laos, 3-star hotels in countries like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are comfortable and clean, usually really fair priced rooms come with internal bathrooms, air/con or fans, bar fridges, free bottles of water, sometimes there are coffee/tea facilities. If your family travel crowd uses digital entertainment devices, make sure you ask for the free WIFI and TV (Asian TV can provide a good laugh…). Most hotels and guesthouses especially in Laos include breakfast and usually are a combination of western and local food, but sometimes you may have to ask for the latter. And if you have open-minded and a bit older kids, try out or even ask for the local specialties from the host or guesthouse.
Also bear in mind that local hotels and simpler accommodation is a lot more flexible in the way you share/use the rooms for your family needs. E.g building up the room it fits for the small ones, for example putting beds together or adding mattresses on the floor…
You can request connecting rooms, but a lot of times smaller and cheaper hotels seem not at all able to accommodate this, so ask for rooms close by or next to each other and eventually (if you have kids not yet sleeping alone) split the crew.
Triple share rooms are ideal if you have two or three children. A lot of times they come with one big bed and smaller beds, or at least with enough space to re-arrange your room. Sometimes you can share a double bed with a little one, but check what are the hotel’s terms and conditions. I always suggest getting a hotel with a pool if possible as it’s a great way to have down time at the end of a sightseeing day.
5. What about vaccinations?
It depends on what countries you visit, but generally for Laos the same rules apply as other places on South East Asia. Please see your doctor at least two months before you leave to discuss your plans. When making the appointment, mention the ages of your children and ask if they need to come to the appointment; when you go, bring everyone’s vaccination records, and ask the doctor to note down their blood groups for you. If any of your children has a pre-existing medical condition, ask for help in identifying a doctor in your destination who specializes in the same condition. For current COVID-19 related information see our COVID-19 Updates for Laos Travel information.
6. Family Travel & Malaria or Dengue Fever
Taking your family holiday to Laos and neighboring countries, the question for Malaria or Dengue will have to be addressed. First of all, the best and most effective protection is don’t get bitten by Mosquitoes! When coming to Laos or the region in general, check with your doctor and the list of affected countries at who.int/ith/en. You need specialist advice on the appropriate anti-malarial medication just in case. Be aware of the fact the hospitals in larger cities of Laos and in tourist towns are well aware of these diseases so please ask for proper tests to be done if any type of fever occurs. You’ll also need to make sure you take enough supplies of insect repellent (DEET), light, bright, long sleeve shirts and pants to cover up in the evenings and, if the place you’re staying in doesn’t have them, bed-nets. To travel with an extra set of mosquito nets may as well a very handy idea (these can be purchased locally) , and your kids will enjoy help setting these up ..at least the first few times.
7. Family Travel Tip – Visas for Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam
Most countries in Asia require a visa and don’t be surprised if they’re a requirement for children as well as adults, and that their fee is the same as yours! Check first to see if you need to get the visa from the embassy in your country before departure or if you can get a visa on arrival. For Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam you can get a visa on arrival.
Vietnam Visa on Arrival is an online. After completing the online application form and paying the processing fee, you will receive, via email, your Approval Letter from between one hour to two business days, depending on the status of visa processing you have selected. Copies of your Approval Letter will also be forwarded on your behalf to Vietnam Immigration checkpoints at each of Vietnam’s three international airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Da Nang (online visa approval only applies to air travelers who arrive at one of Vietnam’s international airports; travelers arriving by land or sea must apply for a visa through a Vietnam Embassy).
When you arrive in Vietnam, the Immigration officers will have your documents ready and will be able to issue you your entry visa quickly.
Check that the duration of your trip and the amount of times you enter the country are covered by the visa conditions.
Note: You must have at least 6 months validity on your passport.
8. Family Travel to Laos and what clothes to pack?
If you’re heading for the heat, choose clothes made from natural fibers – sweat irritates delicate skins and can lead to prickly heat or sweat rash. Hats, sunscreen, walking shoes and comfortable slip-on shoes (you’ll be taking shoes on and off when going to temples, pagodas, homestays etc.) are essential items. Also pack for cooler weather and rain, especially if you travel further on into the northern regions, but even in Laos and Vietnam, the winter months of November to February can get quite cool. Remember, most times you can buy locally made clothes, or even second-hand clothes along the way for “very cheap”. Read more about the travel climate.
9. Drinking Water
Tap water is not safe to drink in Asia. You’ll need to boil, filter or sterilise your own, or buy bottled water. A really clever new method is the STERIPEN, which works without chemicals and right when and where you need it : Read more at www.steripen.com ! The Worldwide leader in Handheld, portable water purification systems using ultraviolet light to destroy waterborne microbes.
Make sure the children don’t drink from taps, including when brushing teeth. Keeping a bottle of drinking water by the sink is a helpful reminder. Bring a water bottle for each member of the family. The climate can be very hot in Asia so it’s important to ensure everyone drinks a lot of water to keep hydrated. It’s a good idea to check your children’s urine from time to time; if it’s darker than usual, cloudy or strong-smelling, insist they drink more water.
Tip: Use refill bottles and most guesthouses and hotels will be easy on refilling drinking water bottles from the bigger, cheaper tanks at bars, restaurants…
10. Eating out with children
Eating out in countries with poor standards of sanitation and hygiene, always eat at busy places where the turnover of food is fast, and avoid buffets: they’re notorious for harboring the bugs that cause diarrhea. When eating in restaurants, if the crockery or cutlery is wet, giving it a dry wipe with a clean tissue will lower any potential dose of bugs. Check that bottles and cans are unopened before handing these to the children (and use straws or clean the can or bottle before they drink), and avoid ice and salads. It’s a good idea to also avoid western food as it’s not traditional to the country; the local food is delicious, healthier and made from fresh produce usually bought from the markets that morning. The food is a highlight in Asia so research dishes that they might enjoy, and try rustling up something similar before you go or find a Vietnamese or Lao restaurant near where you live and have a night out taste-testing the food.
11. Get your kids involved in the planning
Ask your kids what they would like to experience on the family trip and if they like bike riding, kayaking, hiking or cooking included in the itinerary. Prepare them for the culture and language differences and learn a little about the history. Also try learning a few words eg hello and thank you (You Tube is good for this). You could also explore maps of your destination, read books and watch a film that’s set there.
12. Keep life simple – plan and book ahead
Sure you may be a well seasoned traveler and have been to Asia when you were single, but travelling with a family is different. If you’re planning a two to three week holiday, it pays to be well organised and to have your flights, hotels and some sightseeing tours booked in advanced so all you have to do is turn up and enjoy your trip rather than stress out trying to find hotels while keeping the kids at bay.
It was just heaven getting off the plane in a new city and seeing our names on a placard and being driven straight to our hotel – no hassles, no stress.
Get discounts and book it in green season!
Tiger Trail Travel offer a full on 16 day “Laos Family Adventure”, a tour that is is jam-packed with active travel, learning experiences and awesome scenery – ideal for families looking for a soft adventure! Starting in Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, learn ancient methods of rice harvesting and how to ride an elephant. Travel by car to the spectacular limestone country of Vang Vieng and spend a couple of nights in laid back Vientiane. The trip heads down south where you discover the pristine waterfalls on the Bolaven Plateau and paddle a kayak on the Mekong River at 4000 Islands.
Written 2016 by Markus. Updated 2021 by David.