Why Teach in Laos?
If Indiana Jones decided to change career paths and become a teacher- Laos would be #1 on his list.
Up until 1989, Laos’ borders were closed to tourists. Landlocked and underdeveloped, they realized that it was time to branch out and accept assistance and influence from the western world.
The capitol city of Vientiane is a treasure trove of French influenced architecture left over from French colonization in the mid 1900’s mixed with Laotian culture to create the ultimate Asian fusion of a city.
Luang Prabang has an incredible expat community where he could sit around with a cold draft beer and bullshit about the good old days; and the rest of the country….well, it’s still waiting to be explored.
Bordering Thaiand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and a tiny border with China- you are right in the center of some of the coolest destinations in Asia.
You see, Laos is known for being a country whose roads are less traveled. Dense jungle, remote villages, wild elephants, and a population of thriving tigers- it’s an adventurers paradise.
As for teaching- Laos is a small, underdeveloped country and so the teaching scene is also small and underdeveloped. Your options are limited, but teaching positions do exist all around the country.
For Teachers looking to make some cash- teach in the big cities and go treasure hunting on the weekends and during school breaks. For teachers looking for the adventure of a lifetime with local kids who still play outside and respect their parents- land a job in a slightly remote area.
Laos is cheap, off the beaten path, and full of history that will blow your mind.
Don’t expect to get rich in Laos- at least not monetarily. You can, however, expect a teaching experience rich in culture, relationships, and incredible nature.
Qualifications to Teach in Laos
Laos is one of the most relaxed countries in which to get a teaching job in terms of requirements.
A degree and a TEFL certificate will always put you at the head of the pack, but they are not deal breakers- especially, if you interview in person and can win the school over with your charm.
Native English Speaker: Preferred but not Required
Bachelor’s Degree: Preferred but not Required
Master’s Degree or Teaching Degree: Not Required
TEFL Certificate, CELTA Degree or Equivalent: Highly Preferred but not Required
Teaching Experience: Not Required
Criminal Background Check: Not Required
Health Check: Not Required
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How to Find a Job in Laos
You’ve got to show up.
The #1 way to find a teaching job in Laos is to get your ass over here and start looking.
You can rock up to the Laotian border and obtain a tourist visa which will give you 30 days to scope out your opportunities.
Hunker down in Vientiane or Vang Vien for a week, print out your CV, and go introduce yourself to schools.
Hang out at a local expat bar and talk to some westerners who can show you the ropes or introduce you to their school
Find remote teaching jobs by taking a tour of the country, popping into schools with every stop
While you may not find heaps of teaching jobs posted in job forums online, you may have some luck in the Laos Expat Facebook groups.
Advertise yourself or mention that you’re looking for a job and you might just get a bite. Check out these Facebook groups...
And as always…visit Dave’s ESL Café
Once you have a lead, get to Laos and interview in person.
Option 1: Go to Laos and Search
When you need proof of an onward ticket, you can spend $12 to get a real, verifiable ticket that is legit for 48 hours.
If immigration wanted to check if it's real (which they won't), they'd find that you have an actual flight reservation.
Best Onward Ticket simply cancels the flight after 48 hours.
Done and done.
Option 2: Apply Online
Visas for Teachers in Laos
Teaching on the Tourist Visa is considered ‘working illegally’ but many schools don’t have the funds to officially sponsor your Business Visa and the government doesn’t crack down on tourists teaching.
Tourist Visas in Laos last 30 days and can be extended for up
to an additional 60 days while in Laos at a rate of $2.00 USD per day ($120 for the extra 2 months).
Business Visa 101
As for the Laotian Business Visa, both paid and volunteer teachers (from selected countries) are eligible.
The Business Visa in Laos is a multiple entry visa that lasts
and costs up to $280 per year (some schools will pay this fee for you).
Once you’ve landed a job in Laos, the process of receiving this visa is simple.
Letter of Invitation from your School
Copy of your Passport- with your signature
Visa Application Form
One 2 x 2 colored passport picture
Step 1: Give all of your documents to your school
Step 2: Your school will go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Vientiane to request approval for your visa.
Step 3: Wait 1-3 months for your visa to be approved.
Yes, 1-3 months. Luckily, in that time you can still work. Once your visa is returned, there is no need for a visa run. Just carry on teaching.
PS. Work permits are not required. Hallelujah!
Documents Required for a Business Visa in Laos
Steps to get a Business Visa
What's Included in the Job
What's included heavily depends on the school and location, but here is an average to give you an idea of what you're dealing with...
Average Monthly Income: $550-$1,200
Housing: Not Usually Provided
Flights: Not Provided
Medical Insurance: Not Provided
End of the Year Pension or Bonus: Not Usually Provided
Vacation Time: July + Buddhist and National Holidays
Contract Commitment: 6-12 months
Family Sponsored Visas: Not Provided
Visa: Sponsored for qualified teachers
Average Monthly Income: $0-500
Housing: Often Provided
Flights: Not Provided
Medical Insurance: Not Provided
End of the Year Pension or Bonus: Not Provided
Vacation Time: Flexible
Contract Commitment: Flexible
Visa: Not Typically Sponsored
Cost of Living in Laos
Your salary will be lower in Laos than other in other Asian countries- but so will your cost of living. It’s all relative.
Teachers find that a comfortable lifestyle is easily accessible here- even with a couple nights of socializing out on the town. However, don’t expect to be saving tons of money in the bank. Rather, you’ll likely break even each month.
(Prices are in USD roughly according to numbeo.com and individual research– Updated October 2017)
Overall Cost of Living Range by City
$550 per month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: $283
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: $200
$800 per month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: $550
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: $262
Cut those prices in half
Day to Day
Taxi (1km): $2.20
Local Transportation: $0.35
Gasoline (1 Liter): $1
Cinema- International Release (1 Ticket): $6
Milk (1 Liter): $2.50
Chicken Breast (1kg): $3.38
Loaf of Fresh White Bread: $2.60
Draft Beer (pint): $0.93
Restaurant Meal (average restaurant): $2.00
Compare your current cost of living to Laos here.
The Low Down on Laos
Population: 6.5 million
Currency: Kip (LAK) (check the conversion rate here)
Official language: Lao
Religion: Mainly Buddhist
Government: Lao People’s Democratic Republic / Single-party state
Crime: Low! Petty theft and high-level corruption. Check the stats here.
Safety Concerns: Traffic accidents
Transportation: The cities are pedestrian friendly & bicycle friendly cities with plenty of access to public busses. The rural areas rely on bumpy vans and trucks.
What's to Love about Laos?
Respect for teachers
Plenty of Buddhist holidays with days off
Welcoming to foreigners from all backgrounds
Low cost of living
Low crime rate
Relatively easy to get a visa and teach
What's to Dislike about Laos?
Smaller pool of teaching jobs
Poor schools with less teaching resources