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 Physical Contact: Physical contact in Laos is acceptable among people of the same
gender, but is usually minimal. Between men and women, affection is rarely shown in
public. Similarly, it is forbidden for a woman to directly touch a Buddhist monk. A
couple may hold hands with one another depending on where they are located. Lao tend
not to touch others during conversations.
 Personal Space: The general distance between two people conversing is an arm’s length.
When conversing with a superior or elder, Lao tend to stand over an arm’s length apart.
Meanwhile, when conversing with a close friend or family, the personal space is usually
 Eye Contact: Direct eye contact with the gaze occasionally diverted is common in most
situations. When conversing with a superior or elder, one usually would not make direct
eye contact unless the superior one initiates it first. When a woman, particularly younger
women, are in a conversation with a man, she may avoid making direct eye contact by
keeping her gaze directed to the ground.
 Smiling: Lao tend to have a variety of smiles that each indicate different emotions or
feelings. Some smiles indicate happiness, while some may be an attempt to cover
awkwardness or embarrassment.
 Pointing: To indicate direction, one usually points with their entire hand.
 Beckoning: The common way to beckon someone is by gesturing with all fingers facing
downwards and towards oneself.
 Passing: Passing in between two people should be avoided. In circumstances when this is
not possible, usually one will ask permission to pass through and bow slightly so that
their head is lower than those of the other two people conversing.