Notable phrases in the Vientiane vernacular are “High So” and “Low So”, abbreviations for High Society and Low Society. They are labels used to distinguish the rich and exclusive upper class of the city with the poor lower class.

A recent event highlights the difference well. Uniliver sponsored a men’s beauty contest, “Mr Clinic Clear”, a few weeks ago. It was free entry and held at a night club considered quite “High So”. Lots of people turned up to the club but just hung outside on the road, choosing not to go in even though it was free. They thought that the club and event was too “High So” for them to go inside.