A typical example illustrative of this well-known friendliness is the way in which inhabitants welcome strangers with a free meal.
Friendship, love and peace sit in the hearts of Lao people. They hate conflicts or oppressors and their slogan is “united we survive and separated, we die.” They enjoy literature and arts, and the country’s ancient heritage arises from the national poetry that illustrates the Laotian way of life.
- The Lao Lum (lowlanders) who make up 70% of the population and predominantly live on Mekong River level.
- The Lao Theung (uplands) who comprise 20% of the population and on the foothills with an elevation of less than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).
- The Lao Song (hill tribes) who constitute 10% of the population and live in the mountainous areas.
Theravada Buddhism has contributed greatly to the Lao culture. It is reflected throughout the country in its temples, the language, the arts, literature, performing arts and more. Laotian music is dominated by its national instrument, the khaen, a type of bamboo pipe.
Houses are built on stilts and have free space underneath the roofs with a triangle wind plates on each side. There are two types of houses; single and a double roofed. The number of steps depends on the height of the house, but traditionally they’ll have an uneven number.
The dress depends on gender and age. Lao women are dressed properly and seen traditionally as the mothers of the nation. Lao women wear silk skirts, blouses and scarves to attend important ceremonies. During significant events, Lao women wear scarves and coiled hair styles. Lao men wear salong, big large pants, or peasant pants, to attend important ceremonies.
Lao People share a rich ethnic diversity, comprising such groups Hmong, Khmu, Yao, Akha, Lu, etc. Most of them have kept their own customs, dialects and traditional dress; there are 47 different groups. These can be classified into three broad groups:
DOS & DON’TS
- The Lao greeting for hello is “Sa Bai Dee,” usually said with a smile. Touching or showing affection in public will embarrass your hosts.
- Lao people traditionally greet each other by pressing their palms together to “Nop,” although it is acceptable for men to shake hands.
- In Laos your head is “high” and you feet “low.” Using your feet for anything other than walking or playing sport is generally considered rude.
- Touching someone’s head is very, very impolite.
- Being nude in public is impolite.
- Remember to take off your shoes before entering a Lao person’s home.
- Show respect and dress respectfully when visiting temples and when taking photos.
- Monks are revered and respected in Laos, however women should not touch a monk or a monk’s robes.