A homestay is one of the highlights of Stray Asia’s 7-day “Phone Noy” tour through central/southern Laos and 7-day “Boun Noy” tour of northern Laos.
Village stays are also an integral part of hill tribe treks in Luang Prabang.
Tips for your homestay in Laos
Have an open mind and relax. They’ve welcomed you into their home and are probably anxious to please you. They will be sensitive to your reactions. Try the food they’ve offered you. Compliment the chef.
Ask permission before taking a photo (note: you’ll get better responses if you smile when asking). Then share. Show the photos you’ve taken of them, of your trip, and even photos you’ve brought of your family and country.
Give a small gift to your host or the village chief (ask your guide what’s appropriate). Avoid giving gifts to children directly as it can encourage begging. Instead, interact with them: play games, sing a song, learn their names and show them a dance or magic trick.
Communicate! You may not know the language but gestures and facial expressions can go a long way. Engage and show you’re enthusiasm. You don’t need words to exchange names, ask their age, etc. The ensuing charades can be great fun.
Learn! This is a great opportunity to learn a few words. Point at objects and find out what things are called. A phrasebook can also be handy.
Both men and women should dress modestly.
You’ll almost certainly be offered a shot of lao-lao, homemade rice whiskey. While you can politely decline, if you can handle the firewater, have a few. You’ll be lauded and make instant friends.
Don’t forget to thank your host and leave no trace. Take all your rubbish with you.
What to bring?
- a sleeping mattress and blanket will most likely be provided, you may want to bring your own sleep sheet
- sarong, for bathing at public taps or rivers
- travel mosquito net; flashlight
- earplugs, if you don’t want to wake with the roosters
- pictures of your country and family
- enthusiasm & smiles
Have you done a homestay in Laos or elsewhere in Southeast Asia? Share your experience in the comments.