Retire in Vientiane Guide

If Vientiane is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Vientiane Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.

Retiring in Vientiane is an increasingly popular choice for international retirees seeking a slower pace of life, a lower cost of living, and a rich cultural experience. The city offers a unique blend of traditional Lao culture and French colonial influences, with a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for those looking to unwind in their golden years. However, like any foreign country, there are challenges to consider, such as language barriers, cultural differences, and adapting to a new healthcare system.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Vientiane is significantly lower than in many Western countries. A comfortable lifestyle can be maintained on a modest budget, with affordable housing, food, and healthcare. Dining out at local restaurants is inexpensive, and fresh produce from local markets is both cheap and plentiful. However, imported goods and luxury items can be more expensive due to import taxes.


Vientiane experiences a tropical savanna climate, with a wet season from May to October and a dry season from November to April. The weather is generally hot and humid throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. The cooler months from November to February are often considered the most comfortable for retirees.


While the healthcare system in Laos is not as advanced as in some Western countries, Vientiane has several reputable hospitals and clinics that offer a range of medical services. Many doctors in these facilities have been trained overseas and speak English. However, it is recommended that retirees have comprehensive health insurance, as complex medical issues may require treatment in Thailand or another nearby country with more advanced healthcare facilities.

Public Healthcare System

Laos has a public healthcare system, but it is not generally used by international retirees due to its limited resources and services. Most retirees opt for private healthcare and maintain health insurance that covers medical evacuation to a nearby country if necessary.

Residency Options for Retirees

Laos offers a renewable one-year visa for retirees, which requires proof of retirement and sufficient financial resources. This visa allows retirees to live in Laos, but does not permit them to work.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Vientiane offers a variety of recreational activities for retirees. The city is home to several beautiful parks, such as Buddha Park and Nong Khai, which are perfect for leisurely walks or picnics. The Mekong River is also a popular spot for boat rides and sunset views.


There are numerous restaurants in Vientiane offering a variety of cuisines. Some popular local spots include Kualao Restaurant for traditional Lao food, Le Vendome for French cuisine, and Sticky Fingers Cafe & Bar for Western dishes.

Learning the Language

While English is spoken in many tourist areas and businesses in Vientiane, learning some Lao can enhance your experience and help you connect with locals. The Vientiane Language School offers Lao language courses for foreigners.

Local Culture

The people of Vientiane are generally friendly and welcoming to foreigners. The city has a laid-back atmosphere, with a slower pace of life that many retirees find appealing. However, it’s important to respect local customs and traditions, such as dressing modestly and removing your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple.

Meeting People and Volunteering

There are various ways for retirees to meet people and get involved in the community in Vientiane. Volunteering is a popular option, with organizations such as Vientiane Rescue and the Lao Red Cross always in need of help. There are also various expat groups and clubs that organize social events and activities.


Most retirees in Vientiane choose to rent rather than buy property. There is a wide range of rental options available, from modern apartments in the city center to traditional houses in quieter neighborhoods. Some popular areas for retirees include the central district of Sisattanak and the quieter, more residential area of Ban Nongbone.


Vientiane is a relatively small city, and many areas are walkable. There is also a public bus system, and tuk-tuks are a popular and affordable mode of transport. However, some retirees choose to buy a car or motorbike for greater convenience and mobility.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Additional Information:

International Citizens Insurance

Cigna Global Health
Award winning International Health Insurance for Individuals and families living abroad.

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal

LoginJoinPlease Login to Continue. New? Join today (it's free).
Since 1997, we've supported millions of people as they explore the world and share the adventures and challenges of living abroad.