We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in Laos
Dress respectfully. such as long trousers & sleeved shirts, when visiting temples and take your shoes off before entering temple buildings and private houses. As with other Buddhist countries, showing the soles of your feet is very poor manners. Never touch any person on the head. Despite prevelant cheap alcohol, being drunk is considered disrespectful and a loss of face. Things in Laos happen slowly and rarely as scheduled.
Keep your cool, as the natives will find humor in any tourist showing anger. They will remain calm, and venting your anger will make everybody involved lose face and is certainly not going to expe things, particularly if dealing with government bureaucracy. 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.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Laos, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Laos food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Laos? Please comment below.