Laos has a reputation for being a very laid back country and this is evident since the very first moment a foreigner enters the country. That’s why the PDR acronym which officially stands for People’s Democratic Republic is often unofficially referred to as Please Don’t Rush.
Laos is not Cambodia. Things in Laos are in motion – jobs are getting done, houses are being built, electricity is being delivered to everyone, including those in the most remote areas. Laotians may be slow paced, enjoying their unrushed lifestyles, but they are not lazy. You always see them doing something. I looked and looked and then looked some more but I have never seen groups of Laotians sit around on their motorcycles whole day every day, filling up shaded areas on every corner of every street unwilling to bend over to get anything done. This can only be seen in Cambodia where laziness is a way of life and men care more about their fingernails than than their jobs.
Some unsavvy individuals call Cambodia “laid back” but there is nothing laid back about being lazy and gathering round each day to kill time by verbally abusing by passers. Cambodia is not laid back, Cambodia is lazy, just as Laos is not lazy, Laos is laid back. You can see the movement around you wherever you look in Laos. Everything that needs to get done is being done, it’s just not done by rushing around. That’s Lao PDR – Please Don’t Rush.
For a busy Westerner, this may seem rather odd from the beginning and could actually seem irritating as buses may not be on schedule and your Tuk Tuk driver may pause for an ice filled beverage in a plastic bag on a hot and sunny day while you’re trying to get to your guesthouse. But that’s the way it goes in Laos, so if you do pay the country a visit, then Please Don’t Rush.