Just like the ways you expect visitors to respect your country, culture, etc., Laotians also want tourists to go with right attitude and behavior, so here is a list of how to follow top rules in Laos. Also, the tips to remember when attending or watching Alms Giving Ceremony in Luang Prabang are also addressed.
10 top rules to be respected in Laos
The following rules are all strict but easy to follow. In fact, these are identical in most countries of the Indochina region.
- You say hello and shake hands if wanted, but no kissing whatsoever. The locals will highly appreciate if you learn how to say the basic expressions in their language. For example, know how to say Hello in Lao sounds “Sabaidee,” Thank you sounds “Khãwp Ja̖I”, etc. Just say “Sabaidee” when you go past someone with a smile in Laos, you’ll be much more welcomed when they see that you’re trying to learn their language and special tones.
- Women must never touch or brush against a monk. Men can, but only if it is unavoidable. No physical touch with the bonze is advised.
- Feet are considered to be the dirtiest part of the human body while the head is the noblest. Therefore, never put the feet on the table or shut a door with your feet. If possible, try not to point your feet to the bonze or anybody.
- It’s a rule to take off shoes and socks before entering a religious site, an indoor dwelling, or a private space.
- The bonze and elderly people will highly appreciate if you can try to make your head lower than theirs. This is not a strict rule, but a sign of respect which is very much appreciated.
- Guests should always dress politely when they visit pagodas and temples in Laos. This means they must wear tops and bottoms at all times. In the sacred places, ensure to have your shoulders and legs covered.
- With modesty, Laotians consider kissing in the public places to be very impolite. Holding hands is accepted but try not to show your love much in the public.
- According to Laos’ concept, a person who loses his calmness will also lose his face. The locals speak quite softly, so it is a big embarrassing situation when they come across guests who speak very loudly. Laotians will consider those guests as childish who are unable to control themselves. Therefore, stay calm when you are getting around this slow-paced and soft-spoken country.
- When you offer anything to a village, understand that you should give it first to the village chief who is responsible for distributing the offerings to the villagers. Try not to distribute the presents by yourself or this will be considered as an inadequate manner.
- If you want to take photos of the locals, as a sign of respect, ask for their permissions and they will be proud and smile to pose for the photos. Otherwise, if wanting to capture the natural moments, it’s not obligated to ask in advance.
Tips to Attend Alms Giving Ceremony in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Laos preserve the practice of Alms Giving Ceremony (called Tak Bak) which is open for guests to watch and even attend. Know the following so that your clumsiness will not interrupt this beautiful tradition.
- If you choose to observe, do it in silence at a distance and in a respectful manner.
- If you try making offerings, buy rice in the markets in the early morning, then remove your shoes and remain your position lower than the bonze’s when giving the offerings (with decent dressing, no physical contact).
Travel to Laos will be a big pleasure when you find joy by immersing in the local culture and getting many fantastic experiences.