If you are planning to visit Laos, you should be aware of some dos and don’ts that will help you enjoy your trip and respect the local culture. Laos is a beautiful country with friendly people and rich traditions, but it also has some rules that you should follow to avoid offending anyone or getting into trouble. Here are some tips for what to do and what not to do in Laos:
- Do greet people with a smile and a “sabaidee” (hello). You can also use the “nop” gesture, which is placing your palms together at chest level and bowing slightly. This is especially respectful when greeting elders or monks.
- Don’t touch anyone’s head, as it is considered the most sacred part of the body. Also, don’t point your feet at anyone or anything, as they are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body. Avoid stepping over people or food, and don’t rest your feet on tables or chairs.
- Do dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees when visiting temples or villages. Avoid wearing revealing clothes or swimwear in public places. You should also take off your shoes before entering a temple or a house.
- Don’t touch or turn your back to a Buddha image, as it is considered disrespectful. You should also keep your head lower than any Buddha image or monk, and don’t sit higher than them. If you want to take a photo of a Buddha image or a monk, ask for permission first.
- Do try the local food and drinks, and accept any offer of water or snacks from your hosts. You can use chopsticks or a spoon to eat, but don’t use your left hand, as it is considered unclean. You can also join in the traditional “baci” ceremony, which is a way of blessing someone with good luck and health.
- Don’t litter or use plastic bags, as they are harmful to the environment and the wildlife. You should also avoid buying any products made from endangered animals or plants, such as ivory or tiger skin. You can support the local economy by buying handicrafts and souvenirs from fair trade shops or markets.
- Do be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, and avoid raising your voice or arguing in public. You should also respect the local customs and beliefs, and don’t criticize the government or the monarchy. You can learn more about Laos culture and history by visiting museums or cultural sites.
- Don’t engage in any illegal or immoral activities, such as drugs, gambling, prostitution, or child exploitation. You should also be careful with your valuables and documents.
By following these dos and don’ts in Laos, you will have a wonderful time exploring this amazing country and discovering its charms. Laos is a place where you can experience nature, culture, adventure, and relaxation all in one. Enjoy your trip!
Check out this Traveller’s guide to Laos for more information.