Culture of Laos – some facts tourists need to know


Laos culture is affected by Theravada that is reflected in national language, art and literature. Specially, this country’s culture is associated with the images of elephants that caused its name Million-Elephant country.

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Lao people

One of most Asia sparsely populated country, at only 22 persons per square km, and an estimated population of only 7 million people, but this country, Laos, is still home to no less than 68 different ethnic groups. Each of them preserves their own dialect, customs, culture and tradition.

The most dominant group in Laos is Lao Loum, who lives in the river plains and mostly along the Mekong region. The mountainous slopes of Laos are inhabited by the Lao Theung, who makes up 22 percent of the country’s population. The Lao Sung (Mountain Lao), including Hmong (or Meo) and Yao (or Mien) tribes peoples make up a further 10% of the Laos population, while the remaining 2-5% are ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese.

Lao people (via Pinterest)

Language in Laos

The official language is Lao, a member of the Tai Kadai language group, which is very similar to its Thai cousin; The Lao and Thai languages are so similar that Thai television and radio have become very popular among the Lao people. French, Vietnamese and some English are spoken.


Laos is officially Buddhist. The religion of 90% of the country’s 5.4 million people has overally influenced the daily lives of the Lao people for thousands of years and the gilded stupa of Pha That Luang in Vientiane has become the national symbol of Laos.

Customs and habits

Traditional clothing of Laotian (via Katy Clune)

Traditional clothing: Traditionally, Lao women must wear the distinctive phaa sin, a long, patterned skirt; although tribal groups often have their own clothing. The conical Vietnamese-style hat is also a common sight. These days, men dress Western style and only don the phaa biang sash on ceremonial occasions. Nowadays women often wear western-style clothing, though the “phaa sin” is still the mandatory attire in government offices.

Eating habits: Sticky rice is mainly consumed by 90% of the Lao people. After steaming, the rice is kept in a basket called Tikao or kongkao and can be taken to everywhere. The arrangement of food is on the food big plate. The main foods are Lap, Koy, and Ping.

Occupation: Rice cultivation, animal husbandry, raising silk worms and handicrafts were main occupations additional Activities were trading, fishery, workers in the plants or officials.

Laos festivals

New Year Festival in Laos (via BestPrice Travel)

Lao Festivals are usually linked to agricultural seasons or historical Buddhist holidays. The biggest celebration, New Year, interestingly enough takes place in mid-April, and this is also true of Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and among the Dai people of Yunnan, China. Boon Bang Fai (the rocket festival) takes place a month later in May, when more significant rain showers should materialize. This is an animist celebration with plenty of processions, music and dancing, accompanied by the firing of bamboo rockets to prompt the heavens to send rain. The week-long Tat Luang Festival in Vientiane in November has the whole repertoire of fireworks, music and parades.

Laotians characteristics

Smiles, Loves liberty, no quarrels, no oppression, respect of the nation, reputation and honor associate with their lives. Commonly Lao people are fully of love and respect others. They hate the conflicts for they had severely suffered the 30 years of war. Friendship, love and peace are rested in the hearts of Lao people.

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