I raised my eyebrows after seeing the Baci Ceremony included on my itinerary at first, but I trusted our local office in Laos that it was included for good reason, and boy was I glad it was! The Baci Ceremony is part of everyday life in Laos. The ceremonies are held for both momentous occasions - a new baby or marriage - and the more mundane ones as well - buying a new house, departing for a long journey, and welcoming guests in your home. To experience a Baci Ceremony is to catch a glimpse into one of the most ubiquitous traditions in their culture. I sat on the floor with the elders of the community, surrounding a central shrine decorated in flowers and food offerings.
The elders sang traditional songs and presented the food to me as a way of welcoming me to their home and blessing my travels. There were also some shots of local liquor involved, which of course I couldn't turn away! I joined in on the clapping during their songs, and the hospitality was palpable, despite not being able to understand each other. If your goal in traveling to Laos is to really immerse yourself in the local culture, then including this experience is for you.