Logo of Big Brother Mouse, publishing books in Laos


That means "Hello" in Laos. Welcome to one of the friendliest countries on the planet. These 10 suggestions will help you enjoy your visit, while helping us preserve our culture and traditions. They were prepared by Big Brother Mouse, and illustrated by our own artist, Chittakone. If you visit Luang Prabang, you'll recognize a few of the locations he drew.

Please show respect in our Buddhist temples.


Temples are beautiful and interesting, but most of all, they are holy places. Please visit, but dress appropriately, covering shoulders, knees, and everything in between. (Yes, that stomach too!) Whether in a temple or on the street, women who wear a traditional sihn (long skirt) will find the gesture much appreciated.

Be careful where you point your feet in Buddhist culture.


In Buddhist cultures, the head is high, and the feet are low. Use your feet only for walking. (Okay, we'll make an exception if you're a kick-boxer!) Pointing your feet at someone – for example, by putting your feet up on a stool – is rude. So is stepping over someone seated on the floor.

Be careful not to intrude with your camera, especially during the alms procession.


Fewer local people give alms in the morning than in the past. Cameras flash in their faces at a time when they only wanted to quietly practice their faith. Any time you see our culture hurt by a thoughtless individual, please speak up. If you wish to participate in giving alms, by all means do so, but don't just get up early and buy some rice from a street vendor. First, please learn about this ancient tradition. Information is posted in many temple.

Giving things away is often harmful.


Please be thoughtful about your generosity. Giving away candy or money discourages initiative, rots teeth, and encourages begging. Medical supplies are easily misused; a donation to the Lao Red Cross is more likely to achieve your goals. Books, pens, and educational supplies are needed; but the villages that most need them are remote and hard to reach.

In Laos, kissing should be done in private.


We believe that kissing, holding hands, and other displays of affection with the opposite sex are private acts that should be done in private.

Things will be different in Laos. Don't get upset about it!


Our country is different from yours! That's why you're here, right? We have many different customs and ways of doing things. When something doesn't go as expected, everybody loses face if you lose your temper. Stay calm, don't raise your voice, and we'll work things out. That's the Lao way. Instead of getting frustrated at differences, use them as an opportunity to think about why customs might have evolved differently here than in your country.

Modesty is important in Laos, even when swimming.



Lao people are modest, and it's uncomfortable to see people who are not. Nude bathing at the waterfall, in the river, or while rafting, is never appropriate. Lao women wear a t-shirt and shorts covering from mid-thigh to shoulders; for men, shorts are fine. When in Laos, we hope you'll do the same.

Be thoughtful about what you buy, when visiting Laos.


Please help us build a stronger country, while maintaining our heritage. Don't buy old objects as souvenirs; they were probably stolen from unprotected temples or historic sites. You can support talented and hard-working local artisans by purchasing new and beautiful weavings, silverwork, and handicrafts. Each time you give someone money, think about what type of behavior you are rewarding. When you buy drugs, antique Buddhas, or wildlife products, you're encouraging behavior that hurts the people of Laos.

We need your help to preserve Laos's traditions.



We need your help to preserve our traditions. If you see someone acting or dressing inappropriately, please talk to them, or pass along this brochure. If your guide allows such behavior, please talk to him or her about it.

These suggestions are just a start!


For thousands of years, we've been developing our culture. This is only one one page of a website; it can't explain everything! After you've been here a day, why not re-read what your guidebook says about local customs? You'll understand more after you've spent a little time here.