Northern Lao - European
Permissions for caving in Laos
A solid permission on provincial level is required for the exploration of caves. This might be explained by the general attitude of centrally steered countries to have a tight control and that caves served as hiding places during the war and should be still concealed. Even in remote areas a governmental structure is functional and it is mandatory to obey the general guidelines. Beside of that there are some more practical facts. The tribal believes in ghosts and spirits are strong and caves play an important role in this context. Caves are considered to be special places and might be linked with bad ghosts or they are holy places of the nearby village. In one cave we were allowed to enter only after the guide had lighted essence sticks and mumbled some prayers to calm down the spirits. Consequently, before a visit to a cave the headman or eldest of the village should be contacted and asked for permission in any case. It is also recommended to hire a guide from the village since they know if there is any danger from UXO.