Latest News
HomeColumnsDestination Portrait6. Explore Mekong – Preparedness to GMS countries

6. Explore Mekong – Preparedness to GMS countries

This section is to intend to give some ideas on the way to protect the travellers from potential annoyances and dangers as well as protect locals from the eventual negative impact of tourism. Mekong countries are a sensitive area with still innocent and vulnerable . Respectful behaviour is then necessary.  
Responsible tourism is a mutual effort by both guests and travellers to respect and understand each other.

Respectful behaviour

Respecting local cultures. Cultural differences are exciting and challenging. To be sure that travellers can avoid to make their guest feeling uncomfortable, here are a few practices to be highlighted to travellers before they go to meet local populations.

  • Generally to be critical or lacking respect to spiritual and political heads of the State is very negatively perceived.
  • Talking about corruption is also seen as insensitive.
  • Dress properly and modestly when visiting temples, sacred sites or royal/official venues. Sleeveless t-shirts or short trousers are a sign of disrespect.
  • Touching children on the head is a bad sign considered as stealing their spirit.
  • Woman should not touch monks.
  • Finger pointing to someone is considered rude.
  • Take out your shoes when entering a private home or even some offices/shops.
  • When sitting, do not show your feet to your guest. The same applies in front of a Buddha statue.
  • Smile can represent a feeling of discomfort or even upsetting to be remembered.
  • Shouting or saying ‘no’ is considered as rude. Making someone losing face by telling something rough in front of him can be also a source of problems.

An excellent guide on good practices in daily life can be download under. Advices for Laos are valid for all the countries in the region.

Other available links:

Annoyances and dangers

They are few restrictions for travellers opting for a holiday in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. However, travellers should be aware that some GMS still suffer from weaknesses. But if known in advance, they can easily be anticipated.

  • Hygiene and cleanliness: while Thailand and large cities in China are generally safe, hygiene still remains an issue in smaller cities in Cambodia, Laos and in most places in Myanmar. Food poisoning can also happen when eating in small eateries…
  • Border crossing difficulties. Borders can turn into a difficult experience especially as an individual traveller. Scams can occur (Cambodia, Laos), times fluctuate and sometimes briberies can occur with immigration authorities.
  • Various scams are practiced in the region, although on a limited basis. Generally Mekong countries remain safe for foreign visitors. But travellers should be aware of the following:
  1. Money scam. Changing money in the street bears generally the risk of being ripped off by unscrupulous “money changers”.
  2. Guides scam. Especially true in Thailand where fake guides take travellers to jewellery shops… The practice does also exist in Vietnam.
  3. Taxis scams. Generally at airports and around busy tourist areas.
  • Extremely sensitive travellers might be chocked by the poverty while seeing children begging or working. See Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children in chapter above.
  • Orphanage tourism is to be prohibited as recent reports speak about countries letting orphanage opening just to raise money from visitors. Information should be provided before departure about the risks of visiting orphanages and about other means to help children


  • Visiting former Khmer rouge camps or genocide sites in Cambodia as well as war museums in Vietnam can be a traumatic experience to some travellers withg gruesome details and information on committed war atrocities.
  • In all GMS countries, it is illegal to buy, sell or possess drugs. Possession of drugs can result in at least one year or more of prison time while drug smuggling carries considerably higher penalties, including death sentence.
Editors - Travel Media Applications | Website | + Articles

TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific editorial team has an experience of over 35 years in B2B travel journalism as well as in tourism & hospitality marketing and communications.