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Common Courtesy of Laotians

 

Lao people are frank, open and friendly, and they possess a strongly developed sense of courtesy and respect. Everyone who adheres to the latter will receive a warm welcome.

The generally accepted form of greeting among Lao people is the nop. It is performed by placing one's palm together in a position of praying at chest level, but not touching the body. The higher the hands, the greater the sign of respect. Nonetheless, the hands should not be held above the level of nose. The nop is accompanied by a slight bow to show respect to persons of higher status and age. It is also used as an expression of thanks, regret or saying good-bye. But with western people it is acceptable to shake hands.

When entering a vat or a private home it is customary to remove one's shoes. In Lao homes raised off the ground, the shoes are left at the stairs. In traditional homes one sits on low seats or cushions on the floor. Men usually sit with their legs crossed or folded to one side, women prefer solely the latter. Upon entering guests may be served fruit or tea. These gestures of hospitality should not be refused.

Since the head is considered the most sacred part of the body and the soles of the feet the least, one should not touch a person's head nor use one's foot to point at a person or any object. Moreover men and women rarely show affection in public. It is also forbidden for a woman to touch a Buddhist monk.

 
 
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