Index


Introduction



The climate of Laos is tropical in most of the plains, while it's subtropical in the far north and in the mountains. In addition, it is governed by the monsoons: the winter monsoon, which brings good weather from November to February, though a bit cool at night, and the summer monsoon, which brings rainfall and high humidity from May to the beginning or the middle of October. However, the monsoons are quite irregular: they do not always arrive in the same period, and they don't always have the same intensity.
The period from March to May, before the rains, is the hottest of the year, and it is still dry, but with some thunderstorms in the afternoon; the summer months are less hot, with highs around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F), but with higher humidity. April is the hottest month, with average highs about 35 °C (95 °F), but with peaks of 40/42 °C (104/108 °F) in the center-south, and up to 45 °C (113 °F) in the north, which experiences greater continentality. In May, the temperature begins to decrease in the south, while in the north, where the monsoon arrives later, it's still very hot, especially in the first part.
In Laos, the amount of rainfall is normally between 1,200 and 2,200 millimeters (47 and 87 inches) per year in the plains, and can exceed 3,000 mm (118 in) on the most exposed mountain slopes. The rainiest months are usually August and September, which correspond to the final period of the monsoon, also because of typhoons (see below), which bring an additional amount of rain.

The north


Luang Prabang

During winter, nights are cool in the north: in Luang Prabang, they are around 14/15 °C (57/59 °F) from December to February, but with peaks near the freezing point; highs are around 27/28 °C (81/82 °F) in December and January, while they reach 31 °C (88 °F) as early as in February. During the day, it can sometimes get hot even in winter.
Here are the average temperatures of Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)141518212324242423211814
Max (°C)283134353433323132312927
Min (°F)575964707375757573706457
Max (°F)828893959391908890888481

In Luang Prabang, 1,250 mm (49 in) of rain fall per year, so we are in one of the least rainy areas.
Luang Prabang - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1515359515017522522516510530151250
Prec.(in)0.60.61.43.75.96.98.98.96.54.11.20.649.2
Days13491515192014941114

In the north, the amount of sunshine is not very good, in fact, the sky is quite often cloudy even in the dry season. In the extreme north, in winter, there's often dull weather and there can be some drizzle; sometimes, this can also happen in Luang Prabang and in the rest of the north. During the period of the summer monsoon, cloudiness prevails throughout the country, although the sun can sometimes come out. Here are the sunshine hours in Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours676764456666

Bounneua

Laos, a landlocked country, is mountainous and covered with forests, and it's home to several parks and protected areas. In general, the climate becomes milder with increasing altitude, but it also becomes more rainy, in fact, the first pre-monsoon showers are more frequent than in the plains, and there are definitely abundant rains in the monsoon period.
Here are the mean temperatures of Boun Neua, located in the far north, 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level.
Bounneua - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)101012161921212019171410
Max (°C)222527292928282828262422
Min (°F)505054616670706866635750
Max (°F)727781848482828282797572

At high altitudes, it can get cold even during the day in the winter months, especially in the north. The highest peak is Phou Bia, 2,819 meters (9,249 feet) high.

Mountains of Laos

The center-south



In the center-south (see Vientiane, Savannakhet), the winter temperatures are slightly higher, and cold air outbreaks are less frequent and less intense.

Vientiane

Here are the average temperatures of the capital, Vientiane.
Vientiane - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)161922242525252524231917
Max (°C)283033343332313131313028
Min (°F)616672757777777775736663
Max (°F)828691939190888888888682

In Vientiane, 1,600 mm (63 in) of rain fall per year; the rains are abundant from May to September, while they are rare from November to March. Here is the average precipitation.
Vientiane - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)8133585245280270335295801031661
Prec.(in)0.30.51.43.39.61110.613.211.63.10.40.165.4
Days12481518202117921118

In the center-south, the sun frequently shines in the dry season, from November to April.
Vientiane - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours887875545888

Pakxe

In the far south (see Pakxe), winter is even warmer, actually, it's quite hot; in fact, highs are normally around 30/31 °C (86/88 °F) even in December and January.
Pakxe - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)182124252525242424232119
Max (°C)313335353331313030313130
Min (°F)647075777777757575737066
Max (°F)889195959188888686888886

The rains in Pakxe are abundant, since they amount to 2,000 mm (80 in) per year; from June to September, they even exceed 300 mm (12 in) per month. However, here too, it rains very rarely from November to March.
In the dry period, the sun in Pakxe shines even more often than in Vientiane and in the center of the country.
Pakxe - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours999775545688

Typhoons

Laos can be reached by typhoons, the tropical cyclones of South-east Asia, which come from the South China Sea, and affect more directly the coast of Vietnam, though they can bring wind and heavy rainfall also in Laos. Typically, typhoons affect Laos from May 20 to December 15; the north is hit more often than the south.
More rarely, the north-west may be affected by the remains of cyclones coming from the Bay of Bengal, which may also pass from the second half of April onwards, as happened with Typhoon Nargis in early May 2008.
Tropical cyclones, as well as waves of bad weather brought by the monsoon, can cause flooding, for example the overflowing of the great river that runs through the country from north to south, the Mekong.

Best Time



The best time to visit Laos is from November to February, since it is the coolest part of the dry season. In November, however, typhoons or tropical storms may still affect the country, and sometimes even in the first half of December. In February, the temperature usually begins to rise and can exceed 35 °C (95 °F); consequently, the best time is from mid-December to late January, though it can sometimes get hot even in January, but the humidity is not high and nights remain cool. It is worth while to recall that, in winter, it can get cold at night across the country, in fact, the minimum temperature can drop below 10 °C (50 °F), but especially in the north, where it can drop in some cases to as low as the freezing point.
In March and April, and also in May until the arrival of the monsoon, it's uncomfortably hot in the lowlands, while the heat it's more bearable in the mountains. However, the weather is still good, although there may be some showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon.
During the rainy season, from May to September, the heat is sweltering, at least in the lowlands; the sky is often cloudy, and torrential rainfall can sometimes make travelling difficult; in the brief periods of good weather, which last a few days, the heat returns to be intense.

What to pack



In winter: in the north (see Luang Prabang), bring light clothes for the day, a jacket and a sweater for the evening, and a raincoat for the drizzle; in the northern cities above 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), bring spring/autumn clothes, a warm jacket and a sweater for the evening.
For the south-central plains (Vientiane, Savannakhet, Pakxe), bring light clothing, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and possibly a light jacket or a sweater for cooler evenings. For the highest peaks, warm clothes, such as a down jacket, a hat, and gloves.
In summer: all over the country, at low altitude, bring lightweight clothing of natural fibers, a light raincoat or umbrella, and a light sweatshirt for the evening. Above 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), you can add a sweatshirt and a light jacket. For the highest peaks, warm clothes, such as a sweater, a raincoat, and hiking shoes.
Before entering pagodas, it is customary to remove shoes, dress neatly and cover a little.