Laos generally has a low rate of violent crime, but you should remain aware of your surroundings and exercise appropriate security precautions. Residential burglary is commonplace. The number of thefts and assaults in Laos has increased, and some have turned violent. Sexual assaults do occur in Laos. You should exercise caution, particularly after dark, at roadside restaurants, bars, and stalls. Foreigners are often victims of purse snatchings while they are dining or riding bicycles or motorcycles. Please be careful when carrying purses, bags, and other personal items.
Local law enforcement responses to crimes, even violent crimes, are often limited. Foreigners attempting to report crimes have reported finding police stations closed, emergency telephone numbers unanswered, or policemen lacking transportation or authorization to investigate crimes that occur at night. If you move to Laos, please contact the U.S. Embassy Vientiane for security information.
If you travel to Vang Vieng, be aware that some tourists have been robbed and sexually assaulted in that area. Many restaurants in the Vang Vieng area offer menu items, particularly “pizzas,” “shakes,” or “teas,” that may contain unknown substances or opiates. These products are often advertised as “happy” or “special” items. These unknown substances or opiates can be dangerous, causing serious illness or even death. Travelers in Vang Vieng have been fined and detained for purchasing, possessing, or using illegal substances. In recent years, foreigners, including U.S. citizens, have died in Laos after using illegal drugs, such as methamphetamines, opium, or heroin. The potency of some of these drugs can be several times that of similar substances found in the United States.
Please exercise caution on overnight bus trips, particularly on buses travelling to/from Vietnam. The Embassy has received reports of scams and thefts of personal belongings on these trips.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
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