Tucked in and sheltered by Southeast Asia’s more notable tourist nations, the small country of Laos is the landlocked, hidden gem of the region. The often overlooked country consistently awes visitors by revealing well-kept secrets of pristine landscapes, lush rainforests, dreamy waterfalls, and a raw, honest culture left largely untouched by the outside world. Studying abroad in Laos will give students the opportunity to take the road less traveled to a nation with a reputation for warmth (from both the people and weather) and a tranquility that has become alien to students in Western culture.
Best Places to Study Abroad in Laos
There is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to Laos. No matter where you choose to study abroad in Laos, you will be greeted with inspiration from all angles. To help ease the burden of choice, take a gander at some of the most popular places for study abroad in Laos:
Situated on the Mekong and Thai border, the capital city of Vientiane is the economic center of Laos. There are no shortages of museums, markets, or monuments, and many come to see the famous Buddhist temples and statues that occupy the city’s streets. The National University of Laos is planted here, along with vocational schools where you can pick up a new hobby by learning traditional dyeing and weaving techniques in your free time. Or, you can enjoy a day at one of the affordable spas, relax by the river or at an old-fashioned bakery or café, and sample the nation’s world-class cuisine. Insider tip — Lao-American College is based here!
Enjoy the ambling milieu and friendliness that prevails in Luang Prabang. Beyond the history and heritage are gushing waterfalls, top trekking opportunities, mountain-bike trails, kayaking trips, and river cruises. Basically a whole bunch of outstanding natural beauty nestled in between the grandeur of the hazy green mountains. Studying abroad here is a top pick because the destination provides a sense of rurality, yet is complete with at-home amenities due to a recent influx of tourism. Plus, you can participate in a variety of cultural festivities, such as Lhai Heua Fai, the festival of lights, and the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony. Festivals like these give students a sense of life in the community and cultural immersion that you can't buy from a tour guide.
Popular Subjects to Study in Laos
Higher education institutes in Laos are mostly public with some private training institutes. To begin your search for study abroad programs in Laos, consider your major, future career path, and what kind of adventure is calling you.
Subject to much political strife and a secretive history where the good guys didn’t always come out on top, Laos offers much wisdom to students who choose to study abroad in these categories. Studying history and politics in Laos will give you a unique perspective that you just can’t get from a textbook or in a Western classroom. Witness the awakening of Southeast Asia’s hidden gem, discuss the environmental impacts of mega-dams, and trek through jungle forests, all while unpacking little known stories from the US Secret War. Calling all history nerds!
Despite such a rough and tumble past, Laos has been working hard and gaining traction to take bigger steps to getting back on its feet. As Laos has begun increasing tourism in recent years, study abroad programs in the realms of international business and development studies make for prime study abroad programs in Laos.
Costs of Studying in Laos
No money? Boh pen yang (no problem). Studying abroad in Laos won’t break the bank. The official national currency is the Lao kip and students can expect a great exchange rate for their dollar, pound, and euro. Minimal daily expenses will ensure there’s always plenty left to splurge on weekend and free time adventures and your spending money can go a long way if you prepared to try street eats instead of foreign restaurants, with most meals ranging between $1 and $2. With the cost of living being so low, you can also save big on tourist activities. Temple hopping, hikes in the forests, or trips down the Mekong river will only set you back a cool $10-20. Perusing available scholarships or setting up a FundMyTravel campaign can also help offset the cost of your study abroad experience in Laos.
Accommodations in Laos
Most study abroad programs in Laos include some type of apartment or dorm accommodation, and many also utilize a homestay component. Lao homestays generally offer fewer amenities and less independence than student housing, so you may find yourself sharing a room with a host sibling or having to spring for your own toilet paper, but these challenges pale in comparison to the benefits of experiencing Lao hospitality and family life.
Student Visas for Laos
Western passport holders can get a 30 day tourist visa upon arrival in Laos for a fee, with the possibility to extend for an additional 60 days at the Department of Immigration in Vientiane. If you’re planning to study more long-term, you can apply for a student visa or plan to hop over the border every three months to reset your visa. Your program advisor will help you through the visa application process to ensure all your ducks are in a row before you go. For more information, visit GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Laos People’s Democratic Republic (Laos PDR) is a land of staggering beauty, where locals pride themselves on the motto: Laos ‘People Don’t Rush’. To live this way requires a mindset and manners as fluid and clear as water itself. Studying abroad in Laos will challenge you to slow down and drink it all in. Steep your soul in this mantra as you study abroad in Laos and your studies will be supplemented with more meaning than you could ever fathom. So get out there, take your time, and sok dee (good luck)!