Like other Indochina countries, Laos attracts tourists with its ancient beauty, unique culture and custom as well as authentic local experiences. Traveling to Laos, you will have a chance to meet and communicate local people. Preparing several common words or phrases is highly recommended before taking a Laos tour package as a friendly greeting will make a strong impression to locals if you speak to them in their native language. Follow our guide before setting your foot on this magic land.
How to Greet in Laos?
Enjoy any Laos tour, tourists always have chances to experience the hospitality of Laos people and their culture. When you’re in Laos, you will be overwhelmed by the way people to say hello with you. Not any word like “Hello” or “Nice to see you” but only action and “Sabaidee”.
“Sabaidee” is the greeting word showing the respect and modesty. This is a unique way of showing moral values and perceptions of Laotian people, which reflects the social structure and orderliness in society.
To greet others, Laotian people say “Sabaidee” and bow with clasped hands in front of the chest. The higher the hand and lower the bow, the more respect they express. It’s a 4-way salute for different social status.
1. For the low status to a higher one
The palms of hands are against each other, the direction of hand is up to the face to make the tip of fingers touch the nose with a lower head, then bow as lower as possible for respect. This posture is for children’s greeting to parents, grandparents or older people.
2. For friends and the same social status
Both hands place close to the body, clasp together and the tip of the finger is in the neck position and not over the chin, then bow to the other. This posture is also for greeting the strange people that don’t know much about their social status.
3. For high status to lower one
Hands place as the normal way like the second posture but lower, keep head straight or a bit lower. People with high social status don’t need to bow to others with lower status.
4. For a very respectful situation
Hands still clasp each other. forehead lowers to touch the root of two thumbs and bow. In Laos, sometime when the social gap is big then greeting may have no response. For example, the kids greet the older people or their grandparents then the older people can smile or slightly nod.
Know more about the culture of Lao helps tourists avoid the bad things and boost the joyfulness to the max level on their Laos tour.
The Nop in Laos Greeting
Greeting in Laos are usually accompanied by the gesture known as a ‘nop’, which is the placing of two hands together in a prayer position at chest level. A nop indicates the level of respect for another person and is an acknowledge of seniority. A nop also is used as an expression of thanks or regard. Sometimes, the nop is accompanied by a slight bow. For Laotian, the depth of the bow and the level of the hands represents the level of respect given to someone. Here are some situations and tips for you to learn how to correctly perform a nop.
+ When addressing a person who has higher social standing (such as the monks), the hands are held just below the nose.
+ If you meet someone of equal age or social status, the hands are usually positioned at the level of the mouth.
+ When greeting someone who is younger or lower social status, the hands are typically held at the chin.
+ Those who are younger or of lower social status is expected to bow first.
+ The hands are never held above the level of the nose.
+ One’s hand should not touch their body when greeting.
Some Common Greeting in Laos
The general greeting in Laos is “Sabaidee” (“Hello”), together with a smile. The list below would provide you with useful phrases while traveling to Laos.
+ Hello: Sabai di
+ How are you: Sabai-di baw?
+ Thank You: khawp jai
+ Excuse Me: kho othd
+ Good Morning: sa bai di ton sao
+ Good Afternoon: sa bai di ton suaai
+ Good Evening: sa bai di ton aelng
+ Good Night: naitonkangkhun thidi
+ Please: kaluna
+ Sorry: khooaphai
+ Goodbye: Sôhk dii der
+ I Love You: khony hak chao