Laos Overview

Laos is fast becoming the darling of South-east Asia, satisfying all the romantic images of perfumed frangipani trees, saffron-robed monks, rusty old bicycles and golden temples, all set amongst a rich tapestry of tropical river islands, ethnic minority villages, cascading waterfalls and vivid, green rice paddies, and bound together by the mighty Mekong River, the country’s lifeline.

Often overlooked in favour of its better-known neighbours as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos remains one of Southeast Asia’s most beguiling destinations. Caught in the middle of the two Indochina wars and long isolated from the rest of the world, the country retains a slow, rather old-fashioned charm, and its people – incredibly laidback and friendly, even by Asian standards – are undoubtedly one of the highlights of any visit.

Lao's country is a landlocked country in the heart of the Indochinese peninsula of Mainland Southeast Asia, bordered by Myanmar (Burma) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southwest and Thailand to the west and southwest. Present-day Laos traces its historic and cultural identity to the kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol), which existed for four centuries as one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Due to Lan Xang's central geographical location in Southeast Asia, the kingdom was able to become a popular hub for overland trade, becoming wealthy economically as well as culturally. After a period of internal conflict, Lan Xang broke off into three separate kingdoms — Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three territories uniting to form what is now known as the country of Laos. It briefly gained freedom in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but was recolonised by France until it won autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975. Laos is a one-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism–Leninism and is governed by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, in which the party leadership is dominated by military figures. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Communist Party of Vietnam and Vietnam People's Army continue to have significant influence in Laos. The capital and largest city is Vientiane. Other major cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country, with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 55 percent of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 45 percent of the population, live in the foothills and mountains. Main article: Culture of Laos See also: Lao art, Lao cuisine, Dance and theatre of Laos, Laotian society, List of festivals in Laos, and Music of Laos An example of Lao cuisine. Lao women wearing sinhs. Lao dancers during the New Year celebration. Theravada Buddhism is a dominant influence in Lao culture. It is reflected throughout the country from language to the temple and in art, literature, performing arts, etc. Many elements of Lao culture predate Buddhism, however. For example, Laotian music is dominated by its national instrument, the khaen, a type of bamboo pipe that has prehistoric origins. The khaen traditionally accompanied the singer in lam, the dominant style of folk music. Among the lam styles, the lam saravane is probably the most popular. Sticky rice is a characteristic staple food and has cultural and religious significance to the Lao people. Sticky rice is generally preferred over jasmine rice, and sticky rice cultivation and production is thought to have originated in Laos. There are many traditions and rituals associated with rice production in different environments and among many ethnic groups. For example, Khammu farmers in Luang Prabang plant the rice variety Khao Kam in small quantities near the hut in memory of dead parents, or at the edge of the rice field to indicate that parents are still alive. Sinh is a traditional garment worn by Laotian women in daily life. It is a hand-woven silk skirt that can identify the woman who wears it in a variety of ways. In particular, it can indicate which region the wearer is from.

Places to go

Hotel in Laos

Shopping

Ta Lat Sao morning market

TA LAT SAO MORNING MARKET Located on Lane Xang Avenue, the Morning Market consists of 3 main buildings each with 2 floors. This lively shopping market has become the commercial center of...
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Night market at Vientiane

NIGHT MARKETS BY THE MEKONG RIVER IN VIENTIANE CAPITAL With a very similar concept to the night market in Luang Prabang, but with more products, this is a place to shop or just look around to...
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General Information

Climate

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion but was...
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Location

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion but was...
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Heritage

Town of Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its...
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The Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars is a group of fields containing thousands of stone jars cut out from rock thousands of years ago. The sites are located around the city of Phonsavan in Xiangkhouang province,...
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Travel Tips

Dos and Don'ts on travelling Laos

It is important to know about your dos and don's in Laos if you are travelling to this country, either for a short visit or for a longer stay. Laotians are hospitable, friendly and...
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Secrets for backpacking travel

If you are crazy on backpacking travel, discovering new destinations to have more experiences, Laos is the ideal choice due to low cost and simple procedure.
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Top Attractions

Top attractions in Vientiane

Vientiane is the capital city of Lao, a country known as a kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (Million Elephants and White Parasols). The Laotian capital offers amazing Buddhist art, graceful temples...
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Travel Experiences

Attractive activities in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a small city full of character and charm. There are just so many things to do in Luang Prabang. Being the first UNESCO site listed in the country of Laos, the town offers a...
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Food Culture

Lao food at Vientiane

When you get hungry try the nation’s signature dish, tam mak-hung (spicy green papaya salad), laap (spicy minced meat salad) and ping kai (fried chicken). Vientiane Capital is...
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5 must-try cuisines in Laos

In Laos, food is the most important activity throughout the day. It is often the topic of many conversations, especially when eating and sharing dishes between friends and family. Additionally,...
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