Destination Laos! By Asian Marvels
My name is Jason and I love travelling around Asia and sharing my stories. I want people from all over the world to see the beauty of the landscape, people and culture of Asia. Here are my 10 things everyone should know before they travel to Laos.
Laos is often overlooked when it comes to choosing travel destinations, but here in this landlocked country are some of South East Asia's most beautiful hidden secrets. Unlike the lively tourist hub of its neighbouring countries, Laos seems to be wearing an incredibly calm and slow facade. The unique beauty of this country, the undiscovered culture and the warmth of the local people are the main reasons it is such a special place to see. However, travellers may face a degree of a culture shock for the very first time, especially in places not yet developed for tourism. This article will be helpful for you if you have plans to explore Laos, one of my favourite places to discover!
In Laos, they see the head as noble or sacred, and the foot as inferior or unclean, so disrespectful behaviour towards this cultural practice can be considered as rude. Touching a Lao (especially a man) is not always appropriate and touching a child on the head is also not encouraged.
Feet are considered to be 'unclean' so be mindful of where you walk and how you sit. Lao culture is still conservative and whilst not mandatory it is best to be considerate of your clothing and mannerisms when travelling through the region. Women should cover their shoulders and dress in conservative clothing when visiting holy sites or places of worship. Lao people are very kind and friendly and enjoy interacting with tourists so if you are unsure it is best to be safe, cover up and do as the locals do.
Lao Kip is the main currency and this can easily be confusing for visitors with so many zeroes.100,000 is the highest denomination of Lao Kip. Breaking up the currency into smaller denominations will make managing this issue much easier for you and it is safer not to carry large amounts in the same place.
The US Dollar can be used but only for high-end tourist places such as hotels, restaurants and limited shops. You will wish to have Lao Kip in cash since the daily expenses for a meal, coffee, water or other services is very small and it will make life less stressful for you. Cash will be used at the local market and to pay for transportation.
In Laos, the principal religion is Theravada Buddhism but over half of the population is made up of ethnic tribes or groups who collectively have their own spiritual customs and beliefs. You may see thousands of temples including ones which are now abandoned or closed scattered all over the country.
When visiting the pagoda, turning your back on the Buddha statue is considered a disrespectful act. Also, notice the signs, if you are not allowed to take photos you must comply, otherwise, you will be immediately asked to leave when trying to capture some impressive memories. This is the same with wearing shoes or outfits which are not appropriate so be cautious of the local customs and enjoy learning about a new way of life.
Travelling in Laos, like many destinations in Southeast Asia, requires cultural sensitivity and an awareness of your surroundings. It is best to come with the right attitude towards these expectations and seek out new ideas as you visit these destinations. In general, public displays of affection between men and women are best avoided as it is uncommon and women should be considerate of the nature of the Lao people; especially in areas where tourism is less prevalent.
Overall, Laos has a good reputation for being a safe destination to travel with minimal reports of crime and scams towards tourists. Follow up with the latest safety updates online before you travel if you have particular concerns including local regulations regarding water activities in Vang Vieng. Appropriate travel insurance as always is highly recommended.