4 mins

5 things I wish I'd known before visiting Laos

In the first of a new series, editor-in-chief of Wanderlust Lyn Hughes explains what she wishes she'd known before travelling to this SE Asian nation

Remember to dress appropriately, especially when visiting temples (Dreamstime)

1. "Sabaidee" is the first word to learn

It’s the usual form of hello. Use it in conjunction with the nop (similar to the wai in Thailand): the gesture of putting your hands together as if in prayer.

2. Laos is a strongly Buddhist country

Don’t point your feet at people or prop them on furniture. Tuck your feet under or to the side of you if sitting on the floor. Don’t touch someone’s head. Dress modestly, behave discreetly. Remove your shoes on entering a home/temple.

3. A chance of Karma

People release animals back into the wild in an attempt to gain merit.

4. Self-restoration

The Baci ceremony is performed to restore spiritual equilibrium: White threads are tied around the wrist – binding the person’s wandering guardian spirits to them. You must leave the threads on for at least three days before untying (not cutting) them.

5. Alms etiquette

If participating in the alms-giving take a mat to kneel on and some rice or sweets for the monks. You may want to wear a scarf or sash, as the locals do – some hotels will help with this.

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