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Thailand vs Laos: A Cultural Thing


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I've been living in SE Asia since 2010, and 99% of that time has been in Thailand. I've just returned from my 12th trip to Laos, and as always I have returned after having a very pleasant time indeed. 
I've always loved Laos, granted I haven't traversed the entire country yet, but I'm always left with a smile on my face after visiting Laos. I never really could pinpoint why though, until returning from this recent trip. 

To me it seems that the people of Laos are quite different from the Thais in several ways, as well as their culture. Firstly they seem more genuine. They are genuinely happy and kind for the most part, as apposed to many Thais who either simply tolerate farang, or see us farang as a cash cow; and as we know many Thais literally cannot stand farang. Of course I am speaking in generalities here, but that is all you can do when talking about a culture or a 'people' - There are kind and genuine Thais of course, just wanted to clarify that. 
The second point leads on from the first; in Laos it feels that as a farang I am more welcomed. It is a genuine hospitality type of feeling, where a smile is warm and genuine, and they are happy to see you. 
Another point is that the society isn't set up to take money from farang in the way it is here, you don't walk around and see bars with women waiting to throw themselves at you, trying to get into your wallet. I was in a restaurant / bar in Vientiane and there were 2 Laotian women with 2 Japanese fellas. It was obvious that they were escorts or call girls, and it actually seemed 'weird' or not the norm in that environment. In Thailand that is something you see every single day, and almost everywhere you go. 

I also think I really like the innocence of the Laotians, they come across as more humble and innocent in nature. They are a whole lot more relaxed and laid back up there, even in their capital city! Which is nicknamed the most laid back capital city in the world. But yeah they do seem more humble and innocent, even when I was 'hit on' by a couple of waitresses, it seemed almost like how a couple of teens huddle together and look at a guy they like when he walks passed, smiling and making 'man-sai' noises lol. They soon learned I was with my gf though as I had just walked passed them returning from the restroom. 

Thais often make jokes about Laos and people from Laos, they even look down upon them. I don't think it's justified at all. If Laos had beaches I'd probably move there, but also of course the medical side of things isn't too great in Laos; which is crucial for living anywhere. Every place has it's pros and cons, but the culture of Laos to me, is more appealing and more comfortable to live in. I forgot to mention the food, in Vientiane I found it difficult to find food that wasn't out of this world! It's more expensive but damn, I have been full nearly every day last week, to the point of nearly spewing my guts up. 


What are your thoughts on Laos vs Thailand, and what have your experiences been like there??

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OP says: "and as we know many Thais literally cannot stand farang".....

 

Do you really believe this?  If that's your own personal perception to begin with, then the rest of your Thailand vs. Laos comparisons are rather tainted.

 

I do not believe that "many Thais literally cannot stand farang."  I don't know any Thais who would dislike someone just because they're a farang.  They may dislike someone who's a jerk and happens to be a farang.  Which makes me wonder whether it is YOU that they cannot stand.

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Although i have not spent a significant amount of time in Laos since 2005, my impression at the time was similar.

Refreshing experience, although the buses and transportation in general  seemed a bit too old and slow.

I understand how many Thais may get annoyed with foreigners after decades of mass tourism, but i guess most of them can see the difference between polite or impolite guests.

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1 hour ago, Berkshire said:

OP says: "and as we know many Thais literally cannot stand farang".....

 

Do you really believe this?  If that's your own personal perception to begin with, then the rest of your Thailand vs. Laos comparisons are rather tainted.

 

I do not believe that "many Thais literally cannot stand farang."  I don't know any Thais who would dislike someone just because they're a farang.  They may dislike someone who's a jerk and happens to be a farang.  Which makes me wonder whether it is YOU that they cannot stand.

I am a very reserved and quiet person, so I don't tend to annoy anybody.. The xenophobia is no secret here.. But it was my poor choice of words though, I didn't mean many as in the majority, many as in there are many across the nation, albeit a small %. Just like with any culture, there are those who hate on outsiders simply because they are not from their nation. 

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26 minutes ago, mauGR1 said:

Although i have not spent a significant amount of time in Laos since 2005, my impression at the time was similar.

Refreshing experience, although the buses and transportation in general  seemed a bit too old and slow.

I understand how many Thais may get annoyed with foreigners after decades of mass tourism, but i guess most of them can see the difference between polite or impolite guests.


Yeah the public transport is pretty old run down and slow, but I used taxis for long journeys and tuktuks for short distance journeys. 
To reiterate though, I didn't mean many or most Thais hate foreigners, it is a small % that do. Plus I think also social media tends to exploit the worst in something, so when a stupid drunk farang does something, it gets shared like crazy, and thus an image is painted in people's minds. 

Going back to the subject of Laos, I really would move there if they had better medical facilities and a beach or 2. It also helps that the language is so similar to Thai, and being able to more or less speak Thai, I can get by there with ease. One thing I do not understand though is how everything is more expensive there in general, yet they have a weaker and poor economy / people. Rent, food, and general living seems to be more pricy 

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1 minute ago, Easy Come Easy Go said:


Yeah the public transport is pretty old run down and slow, but I used taxis for long journeys and tuktuks for short distance journeys. 
To reiterate though, I didn't mean many or most Thais hate foreigners, it is a small % that do. Plus I think also social media tends to exploit the worst in something, so when a stupid drunk farang does something, it gets shared like crazy, and thus an image is painted in people's minds. 

Going back to the subject of Laos, I really would move there if they had better medical facilities and a beach or 2. It also helps that the language is so similar to Thai, and being able to more or less speak Thai, I can get by there with ease. One thing I do not understand though is how everything is more expensive there in general, yet they have a weaker and poor economy / people. Rent, food, and general living seems to be more pricy 

Well, i guess also in Laos prices are higher in the tourist areas.

I am glad to hear Laos is still charming after many years, i have fond memories of places and people.

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If you had lived in Laos 99 per cent of the time, and went to Thailand on a trip / holiday, I wonder if you would still say the same?

 

It's funny how a break from the norm can make us feel more positive about our surroundings in general. 

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12 minutes ago, RickG16 said:

If you had lived in Laos 99 per cent of the time, and went to Thailand on a trip / holiday, I wonder if you would still say the same?

 

It's funny how a break from the norm can make us feel more positive about our surroundings in general. 

That's a good point, visiting somewhere is different than actually living there. I've visited quite a few times though. 

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My wife sees herself as Laotian. She's from Nong Khai. Many echoes of life in Nong Khai and it's people in the OP.

 

When my wife and I first got together, she revealed that it had long been her dream to visit Laos, but had only been able to gaze across the Mekong at Laos and a visit was a distant dream.

 

I got her a passport and off we went for a couple of days in Vientiane, across the Friendship Bridge. She was thrilled. We caught a tuk tuk from the Friendship Bridge into Vientiane and she chatted to the driver for the whole journey. It was clear that she saw him as "her people" and their language was almost the same.

 

We both got on great with the people but my wife was unimpressed with Vientiane and particularly unimpressed with the food. She's never asked for a return trip.

 

Oh well, at least it's one off both of our bucket lists.

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7 minutes ago, Spidey said:

My wife sees herself as Laotian. She's from Nong Khai. Many echoes of life in Nong Khai and it's people in the OP.

 

When my wife and I first got together, she revealed that it had long been her dream to visit Laos, but had only been able to gaze across the Mekong at Laos and a visit was a distant dream.

 

I got her a passport and off we went for a couple of days in Vientiane, across the Friendship Bridge. She was thrilled. We caught a tuk tuk from the Friendship Bridge into Vientiane and she chatted to the driver for the whole journey. It was clear that she saw him as "her people" and their language was almost the same.

 

We both got on great with the people but my wife was unimpressed with Vientiane and particularly unimpressed with the food. She's never asked for a return trip.

 

Oh well, at least it's one off both of our bucket lists.


haha that story changed in tone rapidly! 
Vientiane is interesting in that it has a lot of it's colonial roots interwoven into it, with the architecture, and even coffee habits! I do like it a lot I must say, as well as Luang Prabang. My gf is actually sad / depressed today, she's back at work and wants to head back to Laos again. She's been with me 3 times now and enjoyed it every time. 
I was in Nongkhai yesterday in fact, only really passing through though. Maybe your wife needs to venture into the heart of Laos to gain a better understanding of the place? 

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17 minutes ago, Spidey said:

When my wife and I first got together, she revealed that it had long been her dream to visit Laos, but had only been able to gaze across the Mekong at Laos and a visit was a distant dream.

 

I got her a passport and off we went for a couple of days in Vientiane,

Why couldn't she get a 'border pass' like all the other locals?

Valid 3 days, costs 30bht.

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21 minutes ago, brewsterbudgen said:

My wife is Laotian and we have a house about 20km from Pakse on the banks of the Mekong. Lovely but nothing to do there. The legal situation about marrying, work, and the fact we have a child, makes living in Thailand essential.

Sent from my SM-G930F using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app
 

I visited Pakse a couple of years back, mainly for visa / stamp purposes. For the entire time that I was there, I didn't see a single farang! It must have been around 4-5 hours, and it isn't too small of a town either. But you're right, there isn't much to do there at all. It felt very isolated and remote. Beautiful scenery though. 

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13 hours ago, Easy Come Easy Go said:



One thing I do not understand though is how everything is more expensive there in general, yet they have a weaker and poor economy / people. Rent, food, and general living seems to be more pricy 

Laos has to import a lot of things from Thailand. They do not produce much themselves. 

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18 hours ago, Easy Come Easy Go said:

That's a good point, visiting somewhere is different than actually living there. I've visited quite a few times though. 

i found the ops story interesting. im about to make my first visit to Laos, in two weeks time.

i DONT  agree that thais 'hate' farang..many thai women 'genuinely' prefer farang men....

sure, most of them see farang as a cash cow...

yes thai women are great liars----saving face teaches them that,from a very early age---such a pity..

 

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25 minutes ago, murraynz said:

i found the ops story interesting. im about to make my first visit to Laos, in two weeks time.

i DONT  agree that thais 'hate' farang..many thai women 'genuinely' prefer farang men....

sure, most of them see farang as a cash cow...

yes thai women are great liars----saving face teaches them that,from a very early age---such a pity..

 

I was actually referring to Thai guys more than Thai women. And by many I meant that it's a small % of the population, but even 1% of the nation equates to somewhere around 700,000 people 
Enjoy your trip to Laos though, where exactly are you headed? 

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I would say the reason Laos is more expensive is due to the fact that they do not really manufacture many products you buy in stores or supermarkets. If you notice, when you enter the Thai - Lao border in Nong Khai, you can see all the 10-wheel trucks. I have friends who live in Laos and they tell me it is expensive to rent an apartment or house. I believe the International Schools have to guarantee or support their foreign teachers when they have to pay the high deposit cost for renting. Also, I had a friend (now deceased) who was virtually under house arrest for lodging with his Lao girlfriend without a marriage license. He was able to produce papers showing he was in the process of getting married, but that did not help. He was lucky he did not go to jail. He was subjected to many hours of interrogation by the Lao police.

 

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Just now, jingjai9 said:

I would say the reason Laos is more expensive is due to the fact that they do not really manufacture many products you buy in stores or supermarkets.

They do manufacture the best beer in S.E. Asia.

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1 minute ago, mauGR1 said:

I'm not expert , but the Lao beer sold in 7/11, although a bit pricey, tastes great.

 

Yes some 7/11s do stock it as do some supermarkets, have occasionally seen it in bars. Beer Lao stands up well against some of the better European lagers.

 

You pass the brewery going into Vientiane from the Friendship Bridge. I've always wondered if they do tours, as there's not much else to do.

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I met two farangs in Luang Prabang that moved from Thailand there 6 years ago. They said they would never moved back. No big shopping malls and supermarkets but a beautiful city with wonderful people. Everyplace you go you gain something and give up something. I would like to try living in Luang Prabang for a few months but I am to locked into Thailand. Many Laotians come to Thailand to do their shopping.

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20 hours ago, Easy Come Easy Go said:

I am a very reserved and quiet person, so I don't tend to annoy anybody.. The xenophobia is no secret here.. But it was my poor choice of words though, I didn't mean many as in the majority, many as in there are many across the nation, albeit a small %. Just like with any culture, there are those who hate on outsiders simply because they are not from their nation. 

"Many" means many ...and you are correct.

No need to apologise.

There are many  Thai's who dont like farang  of any type , and plenty who dont even like Thais from other areas .

Theres also plenty of Farang who dislike other Farang enough to wait  watching their pc's , finger poised and ready to attack them , as soon as they post on Thaivisa..555

Its a human condition ... 

Some Berks who would  claim they dont  ''know any Thais" like that are to be commended.

I too dont wish to know any Thais like that either.

Nor Farangs.

But many exist.

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Thais tend to regard Lao people as their hillbilly cousins ( which in truth they are, at least to Isaan Thai). I like Lao also but decent accommodation can be a bit pricey. The Tuk tuk mafia are a pain. However there are many good hangouts, if  you look. As for the night time olympics, it can be risky and some of the ladies of the night along from Samlor bar would test the urge of a paralytic.

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21 hours ago, Easy Come Easy Go said:

I am a very reserved and quiet person, so I don't tend to annoy anybody.. The xenophobia is no secret here.. But it was my poor choice of words though, I didn't mean many as in the majority, many as in there are many across the nation, albeit a small %. Just like with any culture, there are those who hate on outsiders simply because they are not from their nation. 

The USA and UK are good examples of your last point.

It's called nationalism 

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1 hour ago, zaZa9 said:

"Many" means many ...and you are correct.

No need to apologise.

There are many  Thai's who dont like farang  of any type , and plenty who dont even like Thais from other areas .

Theres also plenty of Farang who dislike other Farang enough to wait  watching their pc's , finger poised and ready to attack them , as soon as they post on Thaivisa..555

Its a human condition ... 

Some Berks who would  claim they dont  ''know any Thais" like that are to be commended.

I too dont wish to know any Thais like that either.

Nor Farangs.

But many exist.

When you disagree or question something how many times have you heard " you will never understand Thailand or Thais why don't you go back where you came from". Finally I told my wife that after living in 9 provinces for 35 years and two years in the university learning everything Thai I responded with this. You are right what I don't know I don't need to know. I still don't understand why they dislike farangs so much. Without us who would they cheat?

 

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4 minutes ago, DonaldBattles said:

You are right what I don't know I don't need to know. I still don't understand why they dislike farangs so much.

We get first dibs at their women. And for a good physiological reason, which also makes them resent us, why do you think that they use the toilet cubicles rather than the urinals when farangs are around? ?

 

Just jealousy really, or as Thais put it, "face". 

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