Laos Local Customs

  • Boy monks.
    Boy monks.
    by IreneMcKay
  • Local Customs
    by monina_c
  • Coconuts for milk shakes.
    Coconuts for milk shakes.
    by IreneMcKay

Laos Local Customs

  • boats

    Almost anyone by remote riversides as well as by Mekong and lakes have boats and they mainly use them to cover shorter distances or for fishing. You can see kids of age less than 10 who know to maneuver them with great expertise, and to them it seems a lot of fun to spend days at waters catching water fauna. Unfortunatelly if becomes more difficult...

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  • riverweed ... tasty snack

    This black river weed (also known as Khong river weed) can be bought at Naong Khiaw or Luang Prabang markets and bus stations and it is known as speciality of that region, so it's not so often seen elsewhere in that form. One can buy them in package of paper size and larger, price begins at 10 000 KIP. It seems that this tasty snack has been...

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  • to bring back lost spirits

    Anything has a spirit or few of them; human body is home of many whom dwell in different parts of body. Belief into spirits didn't change despite Buddhism being adopted as 'the main' religion - and it stems from Animism which is still widely present in many places of SEA, especially rural, traditional areas within conservative societies. Therefore...

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  • if you need good luck

    You should make friends with geckos - it is believed they bring good luck, so they shouldn't be chased away. They become active by night when they feed on mosquitos and small insects, but also they may be as well eaten by some trained domestic cat. You'll notice their distinguishing voice - upon which they got their Lao name - sounds very similar...

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  • Lao hospitality

    When a family member whom has been long time away makes a trip, a visit, to his or hers village where she was born, there's a great reason for feast - and special food will be prepared, usually that persons favourite. IF there are more people comming, the feast will be bigger and other villagers may join, pig of cow will be slaughtered, fish will...

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  • 'greeting' boards

    It's common sight to see when visiting Laos: in towns and cities the boards with 'well-meaning' or welcoming messages, at times cliched, are installed by roads, so everyone can read. Well, mostly they are for Lao population, but here and there you'll see English translated ones, too. Some are quite an artwork of local artist, hand painted and...

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  • You won't find this in Starbucks

    If you're a coffee addict like me, you never allow a day to pass without drinking at least a cup of your favorite brew. And since you also happen to be a traveler then part of the travel experience is to try out new tastes, not just with food (that's a given) but also with coffee.So while in Laos, try out their home-grown Laocoffee for breakfast....

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  • great fruits

    This country has excellent natural conditions to grow variety of fruits throughout the year and it is the best to buy fresh from the market or farmer directly. Most common fruit you will see are banana, mango (both green and yellow, the best I've eaten ever), jackfruit, orange, lime (except for lime juice it is often by the plate to eat it with...

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  • more on food - meats

    When walking the streets and bus stations or food markets (such as night or day markets) meat will be often sold grilled on stick and as well just certain parts, usually selected and on display from the plate like that on the picture. Normally covered by net to prevent flies landing on it or in glass box where everyone can see it. Not every shop...

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  • good coffee is always welcome

    Once when you're in Laos you should try Lao coffee. It is addicitve. Normally coffee is drink with fair amount of condensed milk and it is therefore very sweet and thick, and also the pure coffee has much more distinctive taste than any brew which was introduced here from foriegn companies (Nescafe, just to name one) which taste like water...

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  • Laao Khao or rice whiskey or laao lao

    This is the local alcohol drink that will be most often drink alone (not mixed with anything, but not to be drank by yourself only, hehe). Made of rice which is brewed upon fire after it was fermented in large jar couple of months - see the picture. It will taste similar to 'schnaps' or plum whiskey (drank in Europe), and doesn't really taste any...

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  • BACI

    The Baci is a ceremony to celebrate a special event, whether a marriage, a homecoming, a welcome, a birth, or one of the annual festivals. A mother is given a baci after she has recovered from a birth, the sick are given bacis to facilitate a cure, officials are honored by bacis, and novice monks are wished luck with a baci before entering the...

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  • Lao oranges

    The mountainous area between Vang Vieng and Kasi is famous for growing oranges: you can try them from one of many fruit stalls by the state road No. 13. They're cheap and sweet. Over ripe get dry inside fast and aren't that tasty (but it doesn't mean that one will throw it away here) and they have many seeds inside. Lao people like oranges and...

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  • pots, water and plants

    Here's how people with limited space yet with lot of immagination and care show thier little 'pot garden'. In a large jar filled with water they will grow all kinds of aquatic plants, most popular would be of course lotus as it means purity and water lilies of many kinds. They would also have some fish inside - some of them very small yet good to...

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  • sticky rice

    Among most important crops in Laos is rice, of course. Good locations can harvest rice 2 times a year upon condition that irrigation is provided. But this is beyond reach to many ordinary farmers - the terrain is difficult in most of country, agriculture is mostly done by hands and only a few can afford advanced machinery. Also water is not...

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  • dried fish

    Dried freswater fish are popular and easy to carry food in Laos. They're usually sold in local markets or by the road side like those on the photo. Probably most famous dried fish come from fishing village in Tha Heua some 25 km South from Vang Vieng. These are from Nam Ngum reservoir, the largest lake in Laos; other can be bought in Bolikhamxay...

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  • Kaysone everywhere

    Any bigger Lao town or city and especially any provincional capital keeps 'bronze' statue of Kaysone Phomvihane under the pagoda-like shade, like that one on the picture. Usually these statues are located at the administrative municipal building or important governmental offices in town - and no matter the town or place, they are of the same model....

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  • still some french touches.

    Laos used to be a part on french indochine and eventhough the french colonial rulers are long gone you still see the influences there.both in the food and in various cultural aspects.You will also find that many laotians, especially the older generation still speaks french.

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  • Sinh - traditional skirt

    Although in cities a lot of women, especially young ones, wear western style clothing, traditional skirts - so called sinh, can still be seen everywhere. A school uniform for a girl consists of a white blouse and blue sinh. Any religious occasion or formal gathering requires wearing sinh. So what is "sinh"? It is a traditional full-length...

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  • Monks collecting alms

    Collecting alms by monks is a long-lived tradition in various places where buddhists live, but in Luang Prabang it has a special appeal. It is estimated that there are over 1000 monks living here in monasteries. In accordance with the tradition every young man in Laos should become a monk, usually for a couple of months. They lead a simple life...

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  • Kids selling food on the slow boat

    The sell of anything, oreos and pringles - not like Im buying them......but rather beers and cold drinks, chips maybe or home made donuts. Oddly enough there were very few people selling sanwiches.....which in most places (incl Laos) they sell them everywhere.......In any case they were polite and gracious......prices were regular across the board.

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  • Baci

    Whenever someone they care about goes on a longer journey the Laotians tie several strings around the wrists of the traveller in order to, as far as I understood, securely fasten the spirits of his organs to their proper place so they don't get lost somewhere along the way - very comforting to know. (On a more practical level some of them may also...

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  • Where to "go"

    Whenever the bus stopped in the countryside, all the locals "went" (#1 or #2) just at the side of the road, often in full view of the bus. Even when we arrived at the town at the border, we asked one guy where there was a toilet. He looked at us like we were crazy and simply swept his hand all around, indicating "anywhere".This was in 1998, so...

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  • Meet the Locals- Market Viang Vieng

    This is where the locals come to shop in Viang Vieng. You have to get up early to go there but its a real eye opener.There are the normal things you would expect to find on a market like, fish, chicken , vegetables but you can also find delicacies like fried Bat and Rat on a stick! Rat kebabs anyone? Probably best to have breakfast before you...

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  • make sure to have deep pockets

    It's not that Laos is expensive, but, the kip only comes in relatively small denominatons. If you change a moderate amount of USD, Euros, or even Baht, you come away with fistfulls of bills. Everything starts sounding really expensive......there are just too many damned zeros!And, there are no coins....thankfully!In the more touristy areas, they...

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  • Meet the locals 4 - making rice pancakes

    These guys were making Rice Pancakes outside a temple in Luang Prabang. They were putting them on woven racks in the street and leaving them to dry in the sun

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  • Meet the locals 3

    I just love this picture. Taken in a school in Luang Prabang at home time, they were waiting for their mother. I showed them their picture on my digital camera , they were fascinated by it.Bet the little boy is a right little so and so though!

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  • Haggling wasn't usual

    Admittedly i visited 3 years ago but when in Laos I found market holders far less into haggling than in Thailand. Particularly in the northern town of Luang Prabang the stall holders did not engage in haggling at all, the price they stated was what they considered a fair price. Substantial haggling, if at all, didn't appear to be normal practice.

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  • Handling Cash

    The Lao People usually hold stacks of notes with them. When I first changed my USD into KIP, I had to carry with me a stack of notes (1 inch thick). Denominations (10,000 for instance!!!) are small and hence ...I was once a millionaire in Laos....

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  • How and What Do The Locals Eat

    Like most Asian countries, the Lao people eat various dishes accompanied with rice, not normal plain rice but GLUTINIOUS / STICKY RICE.The rice is normally served in basket-like container and you are supposed to use your right hand to pick up some rice and squeeze it with your fingers and put it into your mouth with the dishes. You can use utensils...

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  • the way to pay respect in temple

    There is no cost (but you can donate as you want to maintenance and improve the temple). This is their style. Really beautiful candle (in flower shape).

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  • Keep your head down

    One tip that you probably won't hear too much about is the fact that it is rude not to attempt to lower your head below the head of any elders when you pass. This is similar to the foot rules for Lao. Don't point the bottom of your foot towards anyone and do not raise your foot above the head of anyone as this is considered quite rude.

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  • make friends..u see more

    we met to local boys on a kayaking trip andthey took us to a village far inside the jungel where no turists go..we was meet by 50 kids running out from their school screaming hello, they have never seen any "white" people so u get a lot of attention, we went to a lady, she wanted to give us something, and the only thing she hade was boiled...

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  • Touching the head

    There are many cute little children around Laos and in western culture you want to affectionatley pat them on there small little heads. Unfortunetly my friend did this only to recieve a tounge lashing by the childs mother. According the theirs and buddhist culture the head is the cleanest and most sacred (sorry of im wrong) part of the boby , it...

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  • The local plonk

    I must have been away too long. Luckily Jen (Craic) reminded me of my original claim to fame on VT, beer. Well, despite what Paolo (uttz) informed me, I was not overly impressed with the local brew of Laos, Beer Lao. That said, I cannot say I was not fond of it, nor did it decrease my consumption. It is easy to drink and cheap. And with D giving it...

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  • decidedly Buddhist

    With over 58% of the population considering themselves Buddhist, Laos has been highly influenced by the neighboring Thai and Khymer societies. I found the Buddha images in Cambodia the most appealing but those in Laos were also a sight to behold.

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  • monks are not common but a common sight

    One of the more interesting sights of Laos are the saffron robed monks that you will undoubtedly encounter on your travels there. They walk around the various cities looking for alms. This tradition benefits both monks and those who give them sustenance. The idea is that by waking up each morning with the thought of giving, one is more at ease with...

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  • Smoke Opium. It wasn't my scene,...

    Calls to re-legalise opium THE Laotian government's pledge last year to end the cultivation of opium poppies by 2005 was music to the ears of international narcotics-control agencies and donor governments alike. But in a country where over 40% of the population are hill-tribesmen, many of them dependent on opium as a cash-crop and for medicine, it...

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  • Life in early morning

    Good to see the life style of Laotian in early morning, to offer food to a hundred of monks.A pity of me and friends because of raining. Anyhow it's very impressive activity for me, to see the long line of the monks with umbrellas, so patient are they.

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  • Rules

    I have never seen as many hotel rules as in Laos, they start with forbidding drug, then guests, then alcohl exc.Most guests houses will ask you to leave your shoes outside, you may read it as: leave the floor cleaned, or, as I read it, do not be noisy, come, sleep, use the bathroom, but do not disturb our silences!May be I used my fantasy, but this...

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  • toilet

    This is a toilet in Laos. You do not use it like a western toilet where you sit on the seat. Here you put your feet at the sides of the toilet and squat and do your thing (just like when you are out in the forest). By the way, there is no paper or soap in the toilets, so bring papers and wet wipes in your bag to use in the toilet.

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  • family's status?

    Don't ask a person about his/hers family's status. If they are poor or rich. It is very insolent and impolite to ask that and they might be upset for a question like that. It is almost like a swearword there. A friend told me that, so that is good to know.

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  • shoes

    In some shops you must take of your shoes and leave them outside the shop and walk into the shop barefooted. It is not for all shops, but some shops. If you go inside a tempel, you must take of your shoes too and cover your shoulders. Don't wear tank tops in a tempel, wear t-shirt that cover the shoulders. An ordinary t-shirt is just fine.

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  • prices

    When you want to buy something as clothes or anything, you should always try to lower the original price. When the seller say a price, you say a lower price than this, and go on like this until you both accept a price. As a Swedish it was very hard for me to do bargaining. In Sweden we always pay fixed prices, we pay what is on the price label. So...

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  • Floral offerings

    At the entrance of many temples you could find floral offerings as these, really nice and well done. They were extremely cheap, are used to be offered in the temples in some festivities.

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Laos Local Customs

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