Looking to hook up with a Lao woman but unsure about the culture or dating in Laos?
Southeast Asia’s only landlocked country, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is home to a population of around 6.8 million people and is becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. Around 2 million people come from Thailand each with a further 1 million from Vietnam and half a million from China. From the West, the USA, France, UK and Germany contribute a further 200,000 people. With a reputation for its unexplored rural scenery and the cultural wonders of Vientiane, the capital city, Laos has a curious charm. The same can also be said of its women who also garner an interest on the international dating scene.
In this guide, we explore the dating scene in Laos including whether the hook up culture works and how to set up a date before you arrive and after. We also take a look at the kind of woman you can expect to find in Laos from their attitudes towards sex to the physical types. We even give you some tips along the way to give you a head start dating a Lao woman.
What are Lao Women Like?
It’s very hard to generalize an entire nation of women but we’ve given you a rough guide about the key features which seem to distinguish many of the Laotian women from their Southeast Asian neighbors. Some of this is down to cultural differences and ethnic heritage whilst others will be a result of the social constructs of this socialist and, largely, Buddhist nation.
Women in modern Laos enjoy a broadly equal legal status with their male counterparts and have begun to embrace lifestyles which run against many of the traditional stereotypes many people have of this Asian country. However, this can vary by location, ethnicity and status as some women still follow a more orthodox and conservative culture. For example, the Lao Loum women still have traditions were the youngest daughter must take on the task of caring for elderly relatives in order to gain any of her rights to an inheritance.
A lot of Lao women still adhere to the role of the homemaker and look after the family as well as having other roles in the community. In rural Laos, these tasks can be associated with health care, education and agriculture as well as handicrafts and commerce. In the cities, women are still hugely underrepresented in positions of power and the gender pay gap is widely in favor of men.
The society in Laos stigmatizes women who are divorced and they can often find it difficult to remarry or find a steady partner.
Bordered to the north by China, the east by Vietnam, the south by Cambodia and the west by Thailand and Burma, Laos is slap bang in the middle of Southeast Asia. As a result, the physicality of Lao women has historically been governed by what part of the country they hail from.
Many people comment on how similar the Laotian women are to those in the northeast of Thailand but, in general, their skin tends to be paler, the women taller and slimmer as well as having noticeably larger lips. In fact skin tone in Laos is an important feature of society and Laotians associate darker skin with poverty; as a result, many women (particularly in the capital) try to stay away out of the sun and even use skin-lightening products.
Certainly, the Western image of fair-skin and straight noses is a desirable one so this bodes well for many Europeans looking to date a Lao woman.
Advances in facial recognition technology show us that the Laotians have a much wider gap between the eyes than the Javanese, Korean, Thai and Malay people. The incline of the eye (or the tilt) is also markedly different in Lao and is far higher than the Cham, Karen, Dayak or Orang people. In fact, the Laotians have one of the highest inclinations which can make the eye appear narrower.
Attitude to Sex
The culture in Lao, including social etiquette can be traditionally be very complex but the majority of its rules and observations will go unnoticed by foreigners. The key things to remember are that most Lao women are quite conservative in their appearance and about their personal space. They can also be sensitive to physical contact, especially in public.
Holding hands on the streets is generally fine, possibly a hug or a kiss on the cheek but anything more is considered in very poor taste and will make your date feel very uncomfortable.
Don’t be surprised if you find that your date in Laos comes with a large helping of family. This extended network of relatives and close family friends is an important unit in Laos and many women rely on their family, not just for the practical necessities but also for, their opinion and blessing. Dating foreigners can be against the law (see Dating Culture in Laos, below) but if the family don’t like you then you can kiss goodbye to a second date.
With all that being said, the Lao people are considered to be flirtatious and friendly and sexual innuendo and ‘banter’ are at the heart of most social interactions. However, the Western approach to casual encounters, one-night stands and no-strings attached fun has not permeated the country, so Lao women do not tend to ‘put out’ easily.
There is a sex industry in Laos and the trade in prostitution is big, particularly in the capital and some men may find it a shock to wake up with their date only to be asked for payment. It happens a lot (either by mistake or on purpose) but if you do find yourself on a ‘date’ with a hooker then be prepared to pay around 150,000 Laotian Kip ($17.50) for your troubles.
Dating Culture in Laos
Dating in Laos very much depends on where in the country you are doing it.
Women are considered to be of a marriageable age at 14 and the husband’s family will still pay a dowry for her hand in marriage; this rises if she is still a virgin.
It is worth bearing this in mind as Western men who travel to rural Laos can sometimes be propositioned by fathers looking to marry off their daughters. Certainly, if you show a woman any attention in these parts of the country then her family will instantly hear wedding bells. This attitude is not completely bonkers as relations between a Lao woman and a non-Lao man are illegal unless a dowry has been paid to the family and the union registered first. Failing to comply with these regulations could land you with a fine of up to $500. For the sake of a bit of paperwork and a small fee, this can be avoided.
Don’t get too hung up on this as the regulations are very rarely enforced but you should certainly be aware of them.
In the capital, dating is a lot less like a potential minefield of shotgun weddings and legal paperwork and is more similar to other Southeast Asian cities. Vientiane has a great bar culture and the nightlife is a vibrant one with some Laotian women out for a good night. Here, you can often find single women looking for a date and it is not uncommon for Western men to be quite popular. There is the obvious caveat that some of these women are working girls but, if you use your intuition, you can usually suss this out.
If you are a travel veteran of other Asian capitals then Laos will certainly be a different kettle of fish and offers fewer opportunities than cities like Bangkok, Jakarta and Hanoi. However, Laos is a friendly, laid-back country with a low cost of living and very few foreign expats. The girls are good looking and can be easier to hook up with than in Cambodia.
How to Hook Up with a Lao Woman
Hooking up with a women in Laos is not hard and you can either do this advance of your arrival in the country using internet dating/networking or you can do this when you arrive.
Pre-Arrival Hook Up
There are quite a few sites that cater to the Laos dating markets and, if you use these before you arrive in the country, you can often fare better in terms of hooking up. Genuine women in Laos who are on a date will not tend to have sex with a man they have just met but if you have spent some time getting to know them online first, your chances of moving the relationship to the bedroom will be better.
Sites like Date in Asia, Asian Dating and Cupid are probably the best sites that offer a good range of singles; however, the best experiences with these sites are by signing up to a premium membership. Also, there are lots of lonely hearts and women looking for husbands on these sites, so you’ll need to choose very carefully.
On Location Hook Up
When you arrive in Laos, you will probably be hitting the capital city of Vientiane and though the bar scene can be a good place to start, it is recommended that you get friendly with the locals first. The nightlife culture for tourists is very different to that which is enjoyed by the Laotians and there are some great small bars, house parties and even just a chilled-out, sitting by the roadside, drinking whiskey scene.
Few tourists really venture outside of the hotel lounges and the Westernized haunts like the O’Grady’s Irish Pub. Sure, these places might attract the working girls, the odd backpacker or even a more sophisticated kind of Laotian woman but to really discover the dating culture in Laos, you have to be in with the locals.
To really cast your net wide, mix up your time in the city by hitting a few of the more modern bars and nightclubs as well as the more traditional old-school joints of Bor Pen Yang and Sam Lo.
The Khop Chai Deu bar also runs speed dating as well as an all-female arm-wrestling competition.
Lastly, hook up apps like Tinder, WeChat and beeTalk are not that popular but you can still use sites like Badoo to try and find a hook up. The social networking platform with a reputation for casual dating is used here but is far less popular than in the West. However, it just might offer a few opportunities if you are struggling to pull.
Featured image via Pixabay.