Laos Country Guide

Respect

 
 
Things in Laos happen slowly and rarely as scheduled. Keep your cool, as the natives will find humour in any tourist showing anger. Stay calm and don't show your frustration if you receive conflicting information from different people. Venting your anger will make everybody involved lose face and can get confrontational. Certainly it is not going to expedite things, particularly if dealing with government bureaucracy. 
 
 
 
 
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Respect for monks is part of Laotian life, and the monks take their duties seriously. Remember that monks are forbidden to touch women. Some undertake a vow of silence and will not answer you even if they can understand and speak English. It is best not to compel them to stand next to you for a photograph or start a conversation, if they seem reluctant. 

Dress respectfully, such as long trousers and sleeved shirts, when visiting temples and take your shoes off before entering temple buildings as well as private houses. Women should avoid wearing skirts and tops (anything clothing exposing the shoulder) or when entering a temple. Furthermore, avoid talking loudly and be respectful of the worshippers.

Buddhist temple in Laos by Jpatokal

As with other Buddhist countries, showing the soles of your feet is very poor manners. This includes when sitting, avoid pointing the soles of your feet at anyone. Never touch or pat any person (even a cute looking child) on the head. Despite prevalent of cheap alcohol in Laos, being drunk is considered disrespectful and a loss of face.

Verbal communication tend to be non-confrontational and body contact (such as touching) avoided among Laotians. Furthermore, never point your fingers at anyone, it is often viewed as being provacative. A "yes" reply does not always mean yes but could also mean "maybe", therefore you need to observe the person's body language or facial expression.

Lao school kids in the village by Masae

 
Laos
Country Guide

Laos Hotels
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Champasak
Huay Xai
Louang Namtha
Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Pakse
Phonsavan
Savannakhet
Thakhek
Vang Vieng
Vientiane

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