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SMU Libraries

Understanding LAOS: Home

This guide provides useful information and links to resources on Laos.

At A Glance


The following information have been carefully selected for your reference. Some resources may have bias perspectives. Please approach the SMU Libraries ( ) should you have any doubts or need clarifications.


This introduction video brings you around Laos, introducing the various ancient temples, natural wonders and sleepy river towns. 

  • Flag of Laos
    Find out more about the history of the Laos flag.

Learn more about Laos provinces, capital, and many more through this engaging video.

Need To Know

This section helps prepare an individual before embarking to Laos, such as learning the cultural etiquette, basic conversational phrases, and even some useful local contact numbers.

Cultural Dos and Don’ts

By respecting Laos customs and culture you will get so much more from your experience in Laos, earning the respect from the local people makes for far more interesting and successful local interactions, and best of all, it will aid you getting those good prices in the local markets!

  • Respect local customs. Observe how locals behave and take cues from your tour guide on what’s appropriate. Remember, you are a guest in someone else’s home. 
  • Be mindful of Laos’ conservative culture.
  • Dress conservatively – tank tops and bikinis are not appropriate attire to wear in villages or in town. Avoid over public displays of affection and foul language.
  • Respect local people when taking their photographs, especially of children. Generally, locals are happy to be in your photos if you respect their space. If possible, ask permission first. Don’t follow people around and avoid snapping photos of them doing personal things like bathing. Show the photo to them after you’ve taken it.
  • Protect the environment and respect cultural resources. Be mindful of where you walk to avoid disturbing the natural ecosystem – stay on trekking paths or in designated areas. Help preserve Laos’ centuries-old architecture and archaeological treasures by avoiding, climbing on or touching them.
  • Purchase local handicrafts and products to support the local economy. Plus, they make unique souvenirs! Bargaining is discouraged but urge you to remember that a person’s livelihood depends on your purchase.
  • Respect human rights in Laos just as you would at home.

Basic Conversational Language

Some phrases in Lao that are handy to know when visiting Laos.

  • Hello – Sabaidee
  • Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening – Ton sao
  • How are you? – Sábaidee baw?
  • Goodbye! – La khãwn
  • Please – Khâluna
  • Thank you – Khãwp Ja̖i
  • Sorry/excuse me – Khãw thôht
  • Yes – Jao
  • No – Baw

Phone Apps

    Lessons are broken down into bite-sized chunks and it feels like you’re playing a game. Duolingo is a great introduction, but it can feel like you’re learning a random mix of information, often through repetition. The more you do, the more robust your vocabulary will be.
    The only way to become fluent in a new language is to speak it. Tandem is geared toward conversations with native speakers. The idea is that you can help one another learn new languages via text, audio, and video chat. The app vets you and then helps you to find a partner who shares your interests. They teach you and you teach them.


Lao Kip (K)

More details on the exchange rate.

Dialing Code


Useful Numbers

  • Emergency Contact
    List of emergency numbers (Medical Center, Hospital) to contact when in Laos.
  • Police: 191
  • Tourist Police: 192
  • Fire: 190
  • Ambulance: 195
  • Electricity: 199
  • Laos Embassy Hotline: (+856) (21) 353-939
  • Embassy of Singapore (Vientiane)
    • +856 21 353939 (Mainline)
    • +856 21 353936 (Mainline)


In Laos, China has invested in everything from malls and development zones to a mega railway linking the land-locked country to China. Find out how is China's trillion dollar project to connect the world transforming Indochina?

Local Media Source

This section links to the various local news media in Laos.

What To Look Out

This section informs the common scams and crimes to look out for when visiting Laos.


Crime & Security

  • Overall Crime and Safety Report
    Find out more information on the common crime threats, areas of concerns, transportation-road safety, and even terrorism threat.


This section lists some recommended readings about Laos.


Useful Links

This section provides useful links to the Laos tourism social media.

Social Media (Laos Simply Beautiful)


Additional Video

Learn the top 20 travel phrases which will aid you while travelling around Laos.

This student shares his experiences living in Laos compared to living in Thailand.

Acceptable Use Policy

Electronic resources (e.g., databases, datasets, e-journals, e-books and streaming audio/video) provided by the SMU Libraries are governed by license agreements that restrict use to current students, faculty and staff of SMU and the Singapore Copyright Act.

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy