Few Interesting Facts About Laos
Capital City: Vientiane
Popultion: 5.41 million
Language: Lao (official), French and English
Climate: Tropical Monsoon
- Rainy Season: May-November.
- Dry Season: December-April
Local Time: GMT +7
Currency: Laotian kip (LAK). Exchange Rate: 1USD = 8,658 LAK
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT LAOS
Laos Is Southeast Asia’s Only Landlocked Nation
Being landlocked is considered to be a great disadvantage to a nation. A landlocked country remains cut off from the sea and is unable to have easy access to seaborne trade. Economic activities based on sea resources like fishing are also absent in such countries. Laos is also one such landlocked country and it is the only one in Southeast Asia where all other countries have extensive coastlines.
Laos Has A Buddhist Stupa That Is Adorned In Gold
The Pha That Luang is a Buddhist stupathat is located in the Vientiane city of Laos. It serves as a major national symbol of the country. The stupa was possibly built in the 3rd century and is covered by gold. It was the target of many invaders throughout the history of Laos who caused significant damage to the stupa. Thus, the structure underwent several reconstructions to restore it to its old glory.
The World’s Widest Waterfall Is Located In Laos
The Khone Falls is located on the Mekong River in the Champasak Province of Laos. It has a width of 35,376 feet making it the world’s widest waterfall. The falls feature thousands of islands and innumerable water channels. Powerful rapids and precipitous drops in the region are some of the primary reasons why the Mekong is not navigable into China.
Laos Has A Cave With Hundreds Of Ancient Buddha Sculptures
A group of caves known as the Tham Ting and the Tham Theung overlooking the Mekong River in Laos is a major tourist destination. These caves are famous for their small Buddha sculptures. Hundreds of such sculptures, mostly made of wood, decorate shelves on the walls of these caves. The Buddha in these sculptures is represented in various positions including teaching, reclining, and meditating.
The Highest Point In Laos Is A Dangerous Place To Visit
The highest point in Laos is the 2,819 m tall Phou Bia mountain. It is part of the Annamese Cordillera range. Although mountains are often the major tourist attraction in a country, the Phou Bia is a heavily forested and remote area where foreign tourists seldom visit. The fact that the mountain is located in a restricted military area and has unexploded ordnances makes it nearly inaccessible to tourists.
Laos Is One Of The Last Refuges Of The Nearly Extinct Irrawaddy Dolphins
An endangered species, the Irrawaddy dolphin is a dolphin species found in the offshore waters, estuaries, and rivers in Southeast Asia and the Bay of Bengal. Thousands of these dolphins have died by drowning in gillnets. The building of dams, sand mining, electrofishing, water pollution, etc., also threaten the species. The Mekong River hosts a tiny population of these rare creatures. If one is lucky, it is possible to catch a glimpse of these dolphins playing the waters of the Mekong as it flows through Laos.
The Ancient Laotians Buried Their Dead In Massive Stone Jars
The Plain of Jars is a famous archeological site in Laos. Here, thousands of jars made of stone are scattered throughout the vast landscape of the Xiangkhoang Plateau’s central plain. According to most researchers, the jars were used for burial practices in prehistoric times. Remains of humans and burial goods uncovered at the site support this theory.
Laos Has A Magical Lake
“Nong Fa Lake” in Laos is a volcanic lake with a unique appearance. The depth of the lake is said to be unknown, which results in many legends surrounding the lake. It has been referred to as “magical” by travel guides.
Laos Is Described As The World’s Most Bombed Country
In the 1960s and 1970s, around two million bombs were dropped on Laos, making it the world’s most bombed country per capita.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IN LAOS
- Dress neatly and show respect when entering religious grounds: cover yourself from shoulders to knees, and take off hats and shoes when entering buildings. Even if you are walking around the streets of town it is most respectful to dress covering your shoulders and knees.
- When greeting a Lao person you should touch your palms together below your chin and nod your head downwards and say SAH-BAI-DEE (“hello” in Lao). Lao people traditionally greet each other by pressing their palms together to ‘Nop’, although it is acceptable for men to shake hands. Hugging or kissing are not acceptable greeting standards.
- Take off your shoes before entering a Lao person’s home. This can also be said for most local shops in and outside of town.
- Lao people usually sit on the ground when they are at home or in the temple. When walking around be careful not to step over someone in your path. When you have to pass close to someone sitting on the ground, it is polite to gently crouch or stoop down a little in a respectful attempt to be on the same level as them.
- Support the talented local artisans by purchasing their handmade goods like textiles, silverwork, woodwork, paintings…
- Help protect Lao wildlife by refusing to buy wildlife products.
- Most Lao people swim in rivers or waterfalls with at least shorts and a T-shirt. It is more polite to do this rather than walk around in a swimsuit or bikini.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO IN LAOS
- It is rude to point directly at a person, to touch somebody (other than a small child) on the head or hair, to throw things and in general to behave overly aggressive or violently.
- Showing the soles of your bare feet is considered a rude gesture and most Laotians sit in a way that hides the feet from view.
- Being affectionate in public makes most Lao uncomfortable, so best to do in private.
- It is best not to buy old Buddhist figures/antiques from shops. A lot of them were stolen from unprotected temples and sites.
- Don’t give gifts or money to children, or a poor novice in the temple as it encourages begging, but give to an established organization or village elders instead.
- Lao people speak softly and avoid confrontation. Please do not shout or raise your voice.
- Yep, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. These are a few points to note about the abstention in communication and people’s living in Laos. While you are exploring this country, keep in mind so that you won’t unknowingly break any social taboos and offend the local people.