Lao Bumpkin points to an excellent article on non-destructive tourism in South East Asia by Lonely Planet author Joe Cummings.

Quaking Blog mentions annoying tourists in Luang Prabang, Laos:

“My impression of Luang Prabang: the contemporary city, is that it exists solely as a tourist destination.  It is now “Low season”, yet the town was absolutely crawling with tourists.  The overwhelming majority of them were dirty, smelly, loud, obnoxious, drunk young europeans and americans.”

I had may share of similar experiences, but thankfully not so many. An aid worker in Vang Vieng once expressed to me her fury at the tourists’ behaviour there. The good thing about Vientiane is that there aren’t too many tourists.

My tips on how to behave appropriately as a tourist in Laos are:

1. Remember that things will be different than from home because you’re in a least developed country with a life expectancy of 56 and GDP per capita of $2100 per year.

2. Don’t get angry or annoyed. This is much, much less acceptable than in a Western country. If you can see the funny side of things it will make your journey much more pleasant.

3. Everything will be late, and generally very late. Things break down too. Prepare for this.

4. Lao people tend to be very friendly and very rarely take advantage of tourists. In my experience in spending an entire year there I can only remember one or two occasions where I thought I was overcharged on a restaurant bill.

If anyone else has any tips or experiences to share I’d love to read about them. Please write a comment.