Heavily influenced by Buddhist traditions, the country's reverent citizens still follow many ancient traditions that have been handed down through the centuries. Follow these simple guidelines and you will certainly do well on your immersive journey into Laos.
Head/Feet: The body is seen as a manifestation of the spirit in Laos. The head is the highest and most sacred point of the body, and the feet are the lowest. While traveling in Laos, it is best to refrain from touching anyone else’s head, and your feet should never be used to point at or touch anything considered sacred or of value.
Voice and Veneer: As with most Buddhist cultures, Laos’s people take care to remain “cool, calm, and collected” at all times, and travelers who do the same will find their vacation much more rewarding.
Beachwear: Laos’s culture is conservative, and even during the hottest weather men and women tend to wear pants and shirts with long sleeves. To avoid attracting unwanted in attention, refrain from wearing beachwear when in public areas outside of swimming pools or beach destinations.
Temples: Though Buddhist temples in Laos do not enforce dress codes as strictly as temples in other Southeast Asian destinations, it’s best to dress in modest clothing when visiting religious structures in Laos.
Shoes: Please remove your shoes before entering homes, offices, or temples in Laos.
Money in Laos:
1. The Lao Kip is Laos’s official currency. Lao Kip banknotes are available in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000.
2. U.S. Dollars maybe accepted at a number of establishments, but we always recommend using local currency for any transactions in Laos.
3. Credit cards are accepted in most high-end hotels and restaurants in larger cities like Vientiane, but smaller establishments, businesses, and markets will likely be cash only.
Buddhism in Laos:
Buddha: Buddha images are highly revered in Laos. Travelers should refrain from climbing on statues, and should never sit in front of a Buddha figure unless you can curl your legs to avoid pointing your feet toward the sacred image.
Monks: Buddhist monks in Laos occupy a highly venerated position in society, and are given the utmost respect. Local customs forbid the monks from touching or accepting gifts directly from women. Monks are also forbidden from shaking hands with anyone. It is important to note these customs are observed both on and off temple grounds throughout the country.