I was thinking about doing a home stay in Laos while I am traveling. How in the world do I go about setting it up? What is a decent rate and what should I pay my host for their hospitality? Should I bring gifts? If so what? Will a host accept a unmarried couple?
#1 KRStamm has been a member since 10/9/2007. Posts: 38
ahh I'm guessing here as I've never done one, but I'd say organise it when you get there - ask around in whatever town you're in, decent rate - $5-10 a night at a guess but perhaps more -- a lot would depend on the standard of the homestay.
No gifts required, I wouldn't expect any problems being an unmarried couple.
I think Green Discovery and some other tour operators in Laos can arrange homestays. Green Discovery have an office in Vieniane near the fountain. Check out www.ecotourismlaos.com. Otherwise you could contact the Head of the Village where you are staying and ask him to arrange it for you (but don't expect him to speak English. Also, bear in mind that the vast majority of homes in Laos do not have European-style toilets, especially in rural areas, so you need to be adept at squatting.
#3 agarlao has been a member since 13/6/2008. Posts: 30
Thanks for there info. I am fine with squat toilets. (6 month in Kenya helped me there!:)) Any advice on how to contact the village elder/ head of the village? Is there a particular Lao phrase I should say?
#4 KRStamm has been a member since 10/9/2007. Posts: 38
The word is Naiban, but you will need an English speaker to help somehow. If you are making arrangements outside of a traditional travel agency make sure to give more than you get. Food is expensive, especially meat. LP phrase book covers a lot of ground.
"Naiban" got it! I assume that money would be acceptable but I would prefer to buy an animal. Is purchasing an animal a feasible thing? Even if it is an extra thank you. When I was in Kenya in was more appriciated to buy a home stay family an animal as well as to give them currency but the animal was greatly appriciated. (I bought a goat and 2 chickens for my home stay family)
#7 KRStamm has been a member since 10/9/2007. Posts: 38
There are lots of places where you can go without using a travel agent. Don Deng near Champasak, and Don Kho near Pakse, are both good examples. You don't need to speak Laotian, either. Just say "Homestay" and whoever you're saying it to will likely know exactly what you're there for and will get you set-up.
Somtam is right with his info on prices, gifts, and married/unmarried.
I found that a $5/night homestay on Don Kho was probably worth $5 per night. Not entirely comfortable, and passable food. But, at least got mosquito nets and free-run of the place. Nice people!
You can also check the official tourist office in larger towns. For example, the Luang Prabang tourism office directly across from the post office and next to the Ancient Luang Prabang Hotel was organizing homestays for tourists visiting LP during last week's Pi Mai Lao/Lao New Year since in previous years, there was a shortage of accomodations.
But if you're referring to homestays in more remote villages (as in accomodations for an overnight trek) then travel agency/-ies in the nearest large town/city 'organize' such overnight treks with concomitant 'bed' in a villager's hut/bungalow. This is included in the fee you pay such agencies and they determine how much they pay said family, usually a family that is a little better off such as a nai-ban or 'chief' of the village or has 'connections'. Sometimes, the family depending upon their circumstances might even kill and cook a chicken for your dinner. You can bring 'gifts' such as toothpast/tooth-brushes, educational material and even medicine provided that the villager/s know how to use said materials safely but I don't recommend candy for children or prescription drugs, and especially not anti-biotics which are frequently over-prescribed. Slipping the parents a few 10,000 kip notes 9but not excessivel) away from the view of a guide is also appreicated.
#10 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136