Lao Business Vocabulary: 19 Best Examples

Ling Learn Languages
5 min readMar 16, 2022


Original blog post:

Are you thinking of starting a business in Laos? Well, this Lao business vocabulary list is perfect for you. Laos is an exciting place to start any new venture. After years of being a closed kingdom, it has opened up in the last 20 years, and the potential is huge. Here are some basics to get you going: Product (phalidtaphan) ຜະລິດຕະພັນ and Advertisement (kan okh sa na) ການ​ໂຄ​ສະ​ນາ​. Ready to learn more? Keep reading below!

As always, if you’re thinking about learning Lao, Ling is your one-stop shop. Don’t be put off by the fact that Lao is a tonal language. Once you have memorized a few Lao phrases, it will all start making sense. Ling has Lao business vocabulary units as well as 100’s more. Don’t miss out on it!

Lao Business Vocabulary

Setting Up A Business In Laos

The business world in Laos is closely related to that of neighbors China and Vietnam. It is important to understand a little of the history to understand the landscape.

China under Mao Zedong was the first real Communist superpower in the region. Mao had a vision of economics radically different from free-market capitalism. Communes would be set up in the countryside, and there’d be no such thing as private property. By his death in the late 70s, the policy had become unsustainable. The Chinese government under Deng Xiaoping introduced free-market reforms turning China into the prosperous country it is today.

In many ways, China is like the planet Jupiter, and the countries surrounding it are like its moons. Whenever China does something, the rest are compelled to follow. When traditional communism failed in China, it also failed in Laos(and Vietnam). It took a few years for the free-market reforms to begin working, but between 1988 and 2008, the average annual growth rate of the economy was 6%. This is almost impossible to conceive of. Only a few countries in history had grown so fast.

However, there is still a significant hangover from the Communist days. Communism was notorious for the sheer level of red tape. Laos, in many respects, is still like that now, and the amount of forms that have to be lodged with the government is maddening. Some include a name reservation certificate, an operating license, and a tax registration certificate. Many Western business owners often partner with a Lao native just to avoid some of these headaches.

The ease of doing business survey, an affiliate of the World Bank, says the biggest obstacle of doing business in Laos is the tax rate, followed by the access to finance, and then the inadequately educated workforce.

The tax rate can be explained by the fact that Laos is still a communist country. Laos is behind Vietnam and Thailand and way behind China in educating the workforce. The problem is that Laos is far more rural than these places. It was allowed to wallow under the rule of the French, whereas other territories like Vietnam became developed. The topography of the place presented all sorts of challenges for any planners who wanted to develop it into a modern industrial hub. Building transport lines is notoriously difficult in a country covered in a mountainous jungle. China has attempted to change that by offering Laos technical assistance in recent years.

Lao Work Culture

Everyday life working in the city is not quite as strenuous as you might imagine. Lao white-collar workers work 35 hours per week, much like English speakers.

Lao Business Trends

The biggest industries in recent years have been hydropower, mining, logging, and construction. If you read our article on Lao natural disasters, you’ll know how controversial the hydropower initiative is. For a start, much of the power is exported out of Laos, and the many dams are putting local fishermen out of work and increasing flood risks.

What is particularly noticeable when you travel around the Lao countryside is the amount of illegal logging. For example, in 2013, Laos exported 1.4 million cubic meters of wood to neighboring countries. That was ten times higher than laid down by government law. This adds to problems exacerbated by natural disasters.

Laos applied for membership to the World Trade Organisation in 1997 and was officially accepted in 2013.

Learn The Lao Language With Ling

The benefits of learning Lao are vast. If you’re thinking of crossing the border and doing business in Northeast Thailand, a solid foundation in Lao will help you with the Thai language.

One of the main takeaways from this article should be that Laos is a land of great opportunity. However, what’s undeniable is that it has workforce problems. Outside the cities, the level of any English, whether academic or social, is very limited. If you want to set up a business in Laos, you must learn some languages.

That is where Ling comes in. Ling is an app with bite-sized lessons that will take you from Lao zero to hero. We have reading, speaking, listening(recorded by native speakers), and grammar guides for those tricky grammar rules. Not forgetting you can learn the Lao alphabet with our Lao writing system.

For a practical dictionary, check out our sister app, Simplylearn.

Don’t miss out on this blog updated weekly. Some related topics include moods and emotions and useful words and phrases in Lao. That’s all for today. Come over and learn Lao now.



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