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Etiquette

The Lao people are generally very gracious hosts, but there are some important spiritual and social conventions to observe.

  • Buddhism When visiting temples, cover up to the knees and elbows, and remove your shoes and any head covering when entering temple buildings. Sit with your feet tucked behind you to avoid pointing them at Buddha images. Women should never touch a monk or his belongings; step out of the way and don't sit next to them on public transport.

  • Local greeting Called the nop, the local greeting in Laos involves putting your hands together in a prayer-like manner. Use this when being introduced to new Lao friends.

  • Modesty Avoid wearing swimsuits or scanty clothing when walking around towns in Laos, particularly after tubing in Vang Vieng. Wear a sarong or similar to cover up.

  • Saving face Never get into an argument with a Lao person. It's better to smile through any conflict.