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An update from Evaneos
Laos

Courtesy, customs and attitudes

Taking a trip to Laos, will give you the perfect opportunity to meet a population that is shy and reserved but also incredibly welcoming, once the ice is broken. You should respect certain codes of conduct that are important to Laotians. This is, after all, an authentic and traditional country.

How to behave

Laos has only recently come to the attention of tourists. Laotians are still a very traditional people and it's important you respect certain 'rules' if you don't want to cause offence.

As with other parts of Asia, losing your temper or cool in public is frowned upon. Don't behave in a way that you wouldn't dream of doing at home - Laotians are discreet and rowdiness is not welcome. Likewise it's important to dress modestly. Women should not expose their back, shoulders or legs whilst men shouldn't wander around bare chested. Long clothing is essential if you visit religious sites.

Whilst in Laos, you shouldn't touch a person's head, kids included. The head is considered to a be a sacred part of the body.

Couples should not be intimate in public, so keep a check on your PDAs. They are most unwelcome!

It's even more important to respect this code of conduct when in villages. When you arrive, it's customary to introduce yourself to the village chief, say 'hello' to everyone you cross and always get permission first before you take someone's photo. It's a question of common sense; don't do anything that might shock the locals, be it the clothes you wear or the way you behave. 

Laotian children

Ignore beggars

Even if mass tourism has not yet hit Laos, begging is becoming more common in the larger towns, tourist hotspots and some villages. Although the country is not infected by this problem, it's important that you don't encourage begging by giving in to pleas for money etc. Instead of giving a kid a biro, it's best to donate school supplies to the directors of a school and let them share out the wares. Rather than giving cash to a beggar, you could donate to the charities that are operating in the country. Finally, if you have excess medicines or first aid supplies, chemists and hospitals will be pleased to accept a donation. 

David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 27 August 2015
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