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Laos

Laos Film & Photography Production Services

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Laos? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Laos? See below for an introduction to Laos locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Laos Film Locations

Laos is known for its beautiful tropical landscapes including mountains, rivers, caves, hot springs, waterfalls, forests and lush jungles. Scenes of particular interest to filmmakers and photographers include saffron robed monks moving about Buddhist temples, colourful animist hill tribes, farmers working in rice paddies and poppy fields, and bustling street markets. Laos is also a popular location for off-road motorbike journeys.

Laos can be divided into three regions of interest to visiting productions:

Northern Laos

Vientiane is the capital of Laos. A small city it’s known for its French inspired architecture, sprawling local markets and temples. Vientiane is a great location for food and cooking shows.

Surrounded by lush jungle mountains, Luang Prabang is a picturesque town on the banks of the Mekong and Khan rivers. It is known for its Buddhist temples and traditional Lao wooden houses. The nearby Kuang Si Waterfalls have a beautiful jungle bathing pool. Compared to the rest of the country Luang Prabang is more synonymous with upscale travel.

The Bokeo Nature Reserve is known for its Gibbon Experience.

The caves of Vieng Xay in far northwestern Laos is a fascinating underground bunker system used by the Pathet Lao.

Nong Khiaw is a relaxing riverside town surrounded by picturesque villages, towering karst formations, and limestone caves.

Central Laos

Vang Vieng has an interesting market and is a popular backpacker destination.

The Plain of the Jars is a fascinating archaeological site.

Tham Kong Lo in Phu Hin Bun National Park is one of the most spectacular caves in South East Asia.

Southern Laos

The Mekong River is famed for the Thousand Islands and rare wildlife such as the Irrawaddy Dolphin.

Wat Phu is a Khmer temple ruin in Champasak Province.

Tham Khoun tam Xe Cave is a famous cave location.

Pakse is known for its seafood and herbal saunas.

Treetop Explorer has a high elevation zip line that lets you fly over Tad Fane waterfall.

Laos Film Location Permits

The permitting system can be a moving target. Depending on the specifics of the shoot the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and / or the Ministry of Information and Culture Mass Media Department will need to be contacted by the fixer to seek a film permit. Visiting crews will need to provide a project synopsis, crew information, travel plans, and imported equipment list. Allow at least 2 weeks to process. For more complicated shoots, such as those involving politically sensitive subjects, permitting times can be 2 months or longer.

Please contact us with project specific information and our local fixer in Laos will get back to you with advice on best next steps.

When To Shoot?

The climate is hot and tropical. The rainy season, when temperatures are at their highest, runs from May to October. This is a great time to film bright green colours although it’s also the most difficult time to travel given that some roads become a slow-going mess of slick red clay. Mid to late October is the best time to film rice fields when the rains have stopped but the rice fields haven’t yet been fully harvested. The warm, dry season runs from November to April. This is the best time to shoot for weather. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Laos has several colourful festivals and events of note:

• Lao New Year (Boun Pi Mai) in April.
• Boun Khao Padabdin dragon boat races on the Nam Khan River in September.
• Boat Races on the Mekong River in Vientiane in October.
• Naga Fireballs (Mekong Lights) in October.
• Tat Luang Festival in Vientiane in November.
• Hmong New Year in December.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Locations, local talent and support crew are inexpensive but since little to no filming infrastructure exists all key crew and equipment must be brought in from abroad. This can add considerably to the cost of shooting. Our Lao fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Laos.

Film Crew & Talent

Laos might just have the world’s friendliest people.

Crews. Laos has a very small pool of directors, videographers and stills photographers. Key crew should be brought in from abroad.

Contact us if you are looking for a director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in Laos.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Laos has over over 160 ethnic groups with the Lao, Khmu and Hmong people making up the majority. Laos also has a sizeable pool of foreign tourists that can be cast if required for background roles. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad.

Laos Film Equipment

Some basic camera, grip and lighting equipment is available in Vientiane. Most crews bring in their equipment from abroad. Bangkok is the closest major production centre that carries both standard and more specialised gear. 

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is very basic.

Studios and backlots. None exist at present.

Post Production. Post abroad.

Visas & Work Permits

Entry is subject to regulations from country of origin. Crews travelling on Western passports can obtain visas on arrival for stays of up to 30 days. Contact your local Lao embassy or representative for more information.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Main roads are up to international standards. Our Lao fixer organises safe and reliable 4WD transport. Travelling by road at night is not recommended. Off-road travel in some areas is not advised due to the large number of unexploded bombs dating back to the Vietnam War period. Several international airlines service flights to Laos.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Laos include:

Vientiane:
Green Park Boutique Hotel
Ansara Hotel
Salana Boutique Hotel

Luang Prabang:
3 Nagas
La Residence Phou Vao

Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. On the whole Laos is very safe for foreigners to visit. See here for up to date travel advice.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Laos, please see below:

Hire Laos Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Laos, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Laos, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.