Digital nomads and alike are always looking out for their next stop and having lived and worked in six countries myself. I thought I would share the advantages and disadvantages of living in Laos as an ex-pat and my experience working remotely in Vientiane.
I am all for inner happiness, location independent work and things that bring me smiles. Whether that’s a cozy place to rest my head, warm locals or good food. It’s all the little things that make the journey special and unforgettable unless if they offer weak WIFI right!
Now perhaps you didn’t know, Laos officially goes with the name Lao PDR (People’s Democratic Republic) and unofficially it could mean “Please Don’t Rush”! Yeah, life is pretty slow here in Vientiane the capital city of Laos.
If you have been in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, you must have heard of Laos as well. It’s the next-door neighbor many people skip so if you haven’t heard of it, I won’t judge you. Hope this post will shed some light instead.
I will also be giving away handy travel tips to Laos at the end. It will be helpful so, read till the end.
Living in Laos as a foreigner and working remotely
- Living in Laos as a foreigner and working remotely
- Pros for digital nomads
- 1. Living in Laos with local People
- 2. Working in Laos as a digital nomad
- 3. Apartments- living in Vientiane
- 4. Food in Vientiane, Laos
- 5. Opportunities
- Cons for Digital Nomads:
- 1. The slower phase of life
- 2. Laos Internet can be improved
- 3. Beautiful Nature but far
- 4. Poor phone data plan
- 5. Non-existent Public Transportation
- Time to wrap!
- Travel tips to Vientiane
- Where to book the cheap flight to Laos?
- How to get to the hotel/hostel from the airport?
- Where to stay in Vientiane?
- What’s your secret travel products?
- Pros and cons of living in Vietnam
- Pros and cons of living in Australia
- What I used to take these photos:
- Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera
- Accessories For Canon GX7 Mark ||
- GoPro HERO4 Silver
- Accessories For Go Pro Hero 4
- SanDisk 64 GB Memory Cards
- All-in-One Memory Card Reader
Pros for digital nomads
1. Living in Laos with local People
Local People are one of the reasons what makes each country either welcoming or wanting to leave as soon as you arrive. I found local people in Vientiane friendly if I were to initiate the conversation first otherwise nothing. So, you do what you got to do – small talk. There were a couple of cafes I would go to do my work on a daily basis and just after few days, I was treated like a friend than just a customer which meant I didn’t have to constantly order something to use my laptop and work there.
It felt comfortable and ultimately I ended up eating there more often. Some locals were too kind to offer an invitation to exclusive family dinners, boat racing after-party etcetera. Overall, Lao people were nice and friendly once I got to know them properly.
Something worth mentioning is being friends with the locals enhanced my expat life also. They introduced me to Southern Laos, Lao winemaking and helped me acquire a taste for Laos’s popular dishes like larb with sticky rice.
2. Working in Laos as a digital nomad
Vientiane seems like a spread-out city but you will find it is easier to meet and connect with ex-pats and fellow digital nomads. The reason being is there are not many places to hang out and that works to your advantage if you are new in the area and want to network. You can guess a few places people would go like Vientiane Social, Easy Bar, etc and turn up!
Most decent places are all in or around the city and most likely you will end up seeing the same faces now and again. There are also meet up groups, foreign governments and NGO/INGO workers who would go to the same bars. So chances are high someone you know will know them (we live in 6 degrees of separation and all).
I had been on the road constantly for a couple of years before I landed in Vientiane. So, it was refreshing to live in a home and to know a group of people that turned into friends. It is fun to live in bigger cities but something special about small towns. All that to say, networking and working with like-minded people was one of the positive here.
3. Apartments- living in Vientiane
That brings us to no 3. Early on I was on the go-go-go travel, always on the move but it has been a while I have grown to love slow travel which means living and working in one place for at least 3 months.
I had my doubts about finding an apartment in Vientiane but house rental leaflets and brochures were posted in almost all cafes. So, I would just call and go for apartment inspections. If I like it, all I had to do was pay the bond and move in. If not continue going for inspections. No drama there. It also helped that most landlords understood and communicated in English which made living in Laos a bit easy.
On saying that though the best part of house inspections was some offered the beautiful view of the city and FREE maid service! I obviously ended up with one of those apartments and loved living there every day! I rarely made my bed or cleaned the apartment until one day cleaners didn’t show up and I noticed millions of ants running on the floor. But I hadn’t spill anything sweet; that’s when I figured my apartment had invisible cracks and to compensate there was FREE maid service! Not everything is what it seems you guys but yes easier to find apartments with beautiful sunsets view for $300-400 p/m (USD).
4. Food in Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane offers a variety of cuisines like any other capital city. There are nice Pizza places, healthy smoothies, Lebanese, Japanese and whatnot. During my time in Vientiane, Senglao was the best place for digital nomads. Fast internet for work, great coffee, and good food. I was there almost every other day so, one day I caught up with the owner as well. He used to own a cinema hall and when that didn’t work out, he moved the interior from the cinema hall to his new cafe! That explains Senglao’s retro look with the statue of Marilyn Monroe at the front!
I was also regular in Joma and Parisian cafe for work, coffee, and sandwiches. I didn’t look deeper into co-working spaces as I was happy sipping my coffee and working there! But among all that, if you are in Vientiane you gotta try Lao food. Living in laos adventure wouldn’t be complete without eating some of the traditional Lao food like laab. I miss that and sticky rice, grilled fish, spicy chutney, yummy noodles, and beer Lao in a random tiny hut or overlooking a Mekong river.
I get occupied with work but sometimes I want to give back. Not just to make myself feel better but also to spread goodness in the world. I believe “giving” makes us feel more fulfilled than “receiving”. There are opportunities such as volunteering to teach English, giving a hand in NGO or helping a local community.
If you are interested in making money, there are lots of opportunities as well. I’ve met ex-pats now friends who are running successful businesses in Vientiane like restaurants, SEO and marketing consulting companies, developing mobile apps, etc.
Cons for Digital Nomads:
1. The slower phase of life
This is not necessarily a con but Vientiane has this slower phase of life that might frustrate digital nomad in you at some point. No one’s in a hurry or rushing, everyone’s pretty chill and that’s all good but if it takes more than two weeks for your landlord to fix wifi, living in laos becomes rather an annoyance. And when your local co-worker takes ages to finish simple tasks then it starts to become a problem very soon. Maybe ask around if others have experienced this as well. But if you are on a visa run or just want to chill, then nothing is lit than Vientiane sunsets overlooking the Mekong river.
2. Laos Internet can be improved
That brings us to the second con. In my first month out of three months, I had a horrible experience with wifi in Vientiane. I’m a straightforward person and don’t like to sugar coat things. So, I will say (write in this case) how it is – the answer is painfully slow. For digital nomads, it’s definitely a no. It shows connected but it doesn’t work then it works but takes longer to load than paint to dry. I was always working from different cafes which were kind of nice as you can read above but after closing hours I couldn’t work as WIFI at home was nowhere to be found.
3. Beautiful Nature but far
Unlike its neighboring countries Thailand or Vietnam, Laos is a landlocked country like Nepal. Capital city Vientiane doesn’t have any beach nor mountains but it does have a Nam Ngum Reservoir!
Anyway, the point is you shouldn’t expect to beach bum here and if you want some nature view you will have to go to Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang. Maybe once a blue moon is alright but from Vientiane, buses take 3 -6 hours respectively to get to the mountains. There are flights available but the cost adds up if I just want to visit the mountains once a week! I suggest booking Shared Minivan Service Between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng or a private car.
4. Poor phone data plan
90% of the time my WIFI at home would be playing hide and seek. I couldn’t get much done with limited hours of wifi in the cafes. So, I wanted to put some data on my phone and found there were multiple options for the sim card and bundles but little info regarding the data use. I paid $15 AUD for one and let’s just say it was a rip-off.
5. Non-existent Public Transportation
Vientiane is not public transport friendly. You might see some tuk-tuk in front of touristic places but that’s about it. There are no public buses or taxis unless you know the private driver or have their contact details. Fortunately for me, I’d kept the name card of a taxi driver who picked me up from the airport. That was handy but I read they have an app called Via via for cabs like Uber in Vientiane now.
Time to wrap!
Vientiane is shy but once you get to know the place and its people, it will open up to you and you will have fun immersing into something different. Personally, I am easy going and don’t like to complain about things too much but if online work is your priority you might want to reconsider your options. However, Vientiane has many other good things to offer that you might enjoy and these very things may make your living in Laos adventure an unforgettable one. Imagine stunning sunsets from your bedroom balcony, tasty food all around the town, friendly locals and fellow digital nomads all in one city.
And here are the travel tips I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Travel tips to Vientiane
Sabaidi – Hello
La – Bye
Bopengyang – No Worries
Hong noa yu sai- Where is the toilet?
Official Language- Laotian
Area- 237.000 Km2
Population- ~7 million
Currency- Kip (LAK)
Country code- +856
Timezone- UTC +7
Where to book the cheap flight to Laos?
To find the cheapest flights to Laos or in fact anywhere in the world, use the most trusted sites such as Skyscanner or Momodo.
How to get to the hotel/hostel from the airport?
Vientiane Wattay Airport Private Hotel Transfer is the answer.
You can also hire a 4-Hour Customized Private Car Hire with Driver for exploring in Vientiane!
Your driver will pick you up wherever you prefer, either your hotel in Vientiane or Wattay International Airport, and take you to all the must-see spots in the city center. Visit the Great Stupa, the holiest site in Laos. See the Patuxai Victory Monument and climb the stairs to the roof for sweeping panoramic views of the city. Head to Wat Ho Phra Keo, which displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Learn about COPE, an association working to help landmine victims, or visit Wat Si Saket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828.
Or choose to visit entirely different attractions. The choice is yours. After exploring the city the way you like for 4 hours, your driver will drop you off back at your hotel or the airport.
Where to stay in Vientiane?
Recommend checking the hotel prices and book it through trusted Agoda, or Booking.com
What’s your secret travel products?
Check out my entire collection of best travel resources. Products and services I personally use to travel the world. (updated 2021
I hope these pros and cons of living in Laos post provided you with some insights and helped you make up your mind. It would mean a lot if you could share with your circle <3
I have traveled and lived in 8 countries and 6 of them are Asian countries. If you are interested in reading more Pros and cons here they are:
Pros and cons of living in Vietnam
Pros and cons of living in Australia
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What I used to take these photos:
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera
This has been my favourite Camera so far. I love how my pictures come out crisp and colourful. It also has a screen which is useful when v blogging. You can check out what I meant on my Instagram which is here.
Accessories For Canon GX7 Mark ||
Check it out here
GoPro HERO4 Silver
This is the good old Go pro that I take with me everywhere. I recommend it because it is small, lightweight and waterproof. I have had made many memories with this trusted item and looking forward to more.
Accessories For Go Pro Hero 4
Check it out here
SanDisk 64 GB Memory Cards
I have been using SanDisk since my first camera which was back in 2009. They build quality memory cards. I recommend getting at least two, just in case something happens to one of them.
All-in-One Memory Card Reader
Do you think it’s a hassle of plugging your camera into your computer? This memory card reader will fit cards of all sizes and make an easy transfer to your computer. The reader supports all popular SD memory card formats, including SD™/SDHC™/SDXC™ memory cards, UHS-I SDHC/SDXC memory cards, and microSDHC™/microSDXC™ memory cards. It is also compatible with the latest UDMA 7-enabled CompactFlash cards.
Let me know in comments if you,
- have any questions about living in Laos? or have you lived in Vientiane before?
- Here is my list of best restaurants in Vientiane
- Check out the best cafes in Vientiane list.
- Don’t miss the 10 must see instagrammable cafes in Hanoi
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- Best Australia travel guide to Uluru trip
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46 thoughts on “Pros & Cons of living in Laos as a digital nomad”
everywhere has pro’s and con’s. But I love the way you describe them here. I wouldn’t mind this life style at all.
I appreciate the pros and cons. It sounds like an intriguing place to visit! I don’t mind a slower pace.
wow! so inspirational
I have never been but thinking about Vientiane. Looks like an amazing place to explore. Thanks for sharing!
Amazing photos, I have a really hard time with the food in Laos, quite a few people I knew got food poisoning as well.
Oh, no. Not more food poisoning. I got poisoned twice in Thailand. No safe haven to flee to.
Wow, it sound like an amazing place. Indeed, some of the cons are bad (WiFi connection for example) but it seems like it’s worth it for a little while 🙂
Thanks for the great info. If only the wifi were better, it really sounds like somewhere we’d like to work from…
Laos is such a pretty country. I need a fast internet connection for work so maybe I will just visit to tour around and relax.
Aw I really enjoyed this post. I know I probably will never experience it but I love reading travel posts and yours was very inspiring. You have amazing photography on your blog X
I am also working from home! I totally agree with you that a bad internet connection can easily make me freak out haha
This was such an interesting read 🙂 but that ‘No one’s in a hurry or rushing, everyone’s pretty chill and that’s all good’ part… I would so hate this! I am all for a relaxed lifestyle but then it drives me mad 😀 anyway, AWESOME post!
Even if it’s landlocked it does look like it has some pretty incredible places there. I am sure I would love to go there. Although I can understand phone data and wifi issues would make things annoying.
Hi, thanks for sharing this. I’ve never thought of visiting here before, but your summary and photos may persuade me, oh and that you have shared the essential words that I need ?.
Great post. Regardless of the cons, your photos makes this place look perfect!
I’ve recently started working remotely and am trying to decide where to travel next so this post is really helpful! Vientiane looks beautiful but the lack of speedy wifi would be a problem for me.
What a lovely post to help Digital nomads. You mentioned the slow pace as a con , but I loved it , since my life in a metro is too fast and I wanna slow down sometimes.
Loved your beautiful pictures. Slow phase life has helped me to relax after too much work but having no internet is really a con. Thanks for this lovely post.
I am also working from home from time to time and I totally agree with you that a bad internet connection can easily make me freak out !! Most travelers are just passing through Vientiane from Thailand into Laos. However, Vientiane seems to have some highlights that are definitely worth seeing 🙂
Wouldn’t the slow speed of the internet connection be a larger cause for concern? Especially if you’re a digital nomad in terms of working remotely- wouldn’t it prevent you from doing a large bulk of your work?
Really interesting read, thank you for the tips. Might give it a miss as the Mister would struggle with slow internet, maybe just a quick visit
There are always pros and con to everything, but it seem like it is till worth it.
Laos looks absolutely stunning! And the food does sound delicious.
I have heard about Laos but dodn’t know a lot about ot. Your post helped meunderstand it better! I loved your pros. 🙂
Omg beautiful photos!!! Every place has its cons unfortunately. Glad there are plenty of pros!!!
Such a good read. It’s nice that you include both the pros and cons so that people can also have their expectations. I know it is not so easy to start but as long as you have the passion you can go through it. Happy Travels!
I’ve always wanted to become a digital nomad!! And this looks like an ideal location…making me want to travel there already. Great advice for when I go one day 🙂
Forget the transportation and slow wifi… A SNAKE?! Oh HECK NO. That’s a huge con for me. Overall, love the place! Thanks for sharing!
The pros definitely outweigh the cons! I mean it just looks like the place to be! I definitely want to visit one day, and maybe just never leave 🙂
Thank you so much for this article, I’m moving to Vientiane next week and will have to work remotely for my company based in Paris. I was wondering how life would be, and was a little bit stressed about the wifi ( as long as it works at least in cafes it will be ok) …i can’t wait to discover this country….don’t hesitate to contact me if you come back there 🙂 Margaux
I’m glad it came to good use. Laos has so much to offer, Enjoy Margaux 🙂
Nice photos! Internet there is not that bad! Depend where you are using in different places they subcribe different packages some (the speed of internet dependon cheap or expensive )
Thanks for your website. Great photos and information.
Do you or anyone you know happen to have any idea of a reputable moving company or freight forwarder as to how much it cost to relocate to Vientiane or Luang Prabang with a 20 foot shipping container? I am in the early stages of considering moving my household stuff to Laos.
Hi, James. Thanks for dropping by. I haven’t used any service like that but I would suggest googling “international moving companies/ships” or finding out from the airline companies with baggage rates. Something worth mentioning is you can buy pretty much all household you may need for everyday living, so, maybe smart move to save that sum moving container and just purchase things as you need in Laos itself. Feel free to let us know what you end up doing!
How different is it to pnohm Penh in Cambodia?
I’m a teacher in Pnohm Penh would like to cross the border for a visit
I am waiting to hear back from a job opportunity in Vientiane. Hoping for the best, and I really enjoyed and appreciated reading your considerations here. The drawbacks of no mountains is a tough one for me, but no place has everything, and striving to travel outside will bring its own opportunities and adventures, I’m sure. If all goes well, I’ll head out in a few months!
I have lived in laos for about ten years, and you are spot on with most comments, however you are totally wrong about the public bus system. They have a fleet of brand new green air conditioned buses that cover the whole city and run regularly every day.
Thanks for sharing. When you say brand new, any idea when they started those green ac bus or what it looks like?
Hey Taryn, glad you enjoyed the post. If you are living there by now, and have any tips that could be helpful for readers here; feel free to share. Happy Travels !
Pretty much the same experience …my first night in Laos already a family invited me to have dinner with them..locals are super sweet and blush if you say something funny…internet at my hotel sucks, need to find a cafe with better internet.
Laos would be a great place to work remotely. It’s so beautiful!
Thanks for sharing your experience! We love Vientiane too 😉
What a comprehensive article on living and working as a digital nomad in Laos! I haven’t ever been there though its on my list. It’s quite a positive that the locals are friendly, makes living in a city much easier. But I can totally imagine how frustrating it can be when things don’t get fixed in time only because everyone is laid back and slow. The best thing is you get cuisines from around the world, so you don’t end up eating the local food every day. But the slow internet and lack of good phone data plans can be a big factor adding to frustrations!
I really liked that you mentioned the pros as well as the cons of leading a digital nomadic life in Laos. Working as a digital nomad, I get panic attacks when I can’t find a decent internet. Though the country looks beautiful in your pictures. I so want to explore this part of the world!
I hope you get to visit soon Ana. Laos is beautiful especially southern Laos.Thanks for dropping by!
From when to when were you based in Lao?