Like many places in Southeast Asia, travelling with children in Laos can be a lot of fun as long as you come prepared with the right attitude. The Lao people adore children and in many instances will shower attention on your offspring, who will readily find playmates among their Lao peers and a temporary nanny service at practically every stop.
Child-friendly amenities such as high chairs in restaurants, car seats, and changing facilities in public restrooms are virtually unknown in Laos. Parents have to be extra resourceful in seeking out substitutes or follow the example of Lao families, which means holding smaller children on their laps much of the time.
Baby formula and nappies (diapers) are available at minimarts in the larger towns and cities, but bring along a sufficient supply to rural areas.
For the most part parents needn't worry too much about health concerns, although it pays to lay down a few ground rules – such as regular hand-washing or using hand-cleansing gel – to head off potential medical problems. All the usual health precautions apply. Children should especially be warned not to play with animals encountered along the way, as rabies is disturbingly common in Laos.
Do not let children stray from the path in remote areas of Laos that were heavily bombed during the Second Indochina War. Bombies remain an everyday threat in some regions and children are usually the most common victims, as the bombies resemble tennis balls.
Sights & Activities
Younger children usually don't find the historic temples as inspiring as their parents do, but travelling with children does offer a different perspective on things. If boredom does set in, the best cure in Laos is always the outdoors. In Luang Prabang the waterfalls at Tat Sae and Tat Kuang Si are a big draw. Both Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang have emerged as big adventure centres and it is possible for older children to try anything from rock climbing to ziplining, not forgetting more commonplace activities such as mountain biking and kayaking. Boat trips are usually well received too.
Most children also take to the unique Hindu-Buddhist sculpture garden of Xieng Khuan outside Vientiane. The capital also has a few more mainstream activities, such as swimming pools and ten-pin bowling alleys.