With cultural festivals, untouched natural beauty and a lack of the western commercialism rampant in other parts of the region, there’s no better time to book your ticket. Set your travel goals for Laos once you’ve seen these 18 reasons to visit in 2018.
Laos has impressive waterfalls, like the aquamarine multi-tiered Kuang Si falls in Luang Prabang, and the raging Khon Phapheng Falls near 4000 Islands, on the Cambodia border. Swim in the basins, hike through the jungles and bask in the beauty of these natural wonders.
Visit the most ethnically diverse region in Southeast Asia
Luang Namtha Province is the most ethnically diverse region in Southeast Asia, with over 20 minority groups living in the mountains. Each has their own customs, religious beliefs, textiles and dress, music and architectural styles. Trekking in Luang Namtha to see ethnic villages and speak with the locals (who often speak Lao in addition to their own languages) can be organized with a guide. Homestays can also be arranged, to dive deeper into the cultural traditions of this region.
That Luang Festival
Boun That Luang is celebrated in Vientiane at the end of November. That Luang, or the Great Stupa, is a huge golden temple and a national symbol of Laos.It is said to house relics in the form of hair and a piece of bone from the Buddha. The religious portion of the festival involves monks and lay Buddhists from around the country making a pilgrimage to the stupa. Fireworks displays, trade shows, parades and parties are also part of the celebration.
Lao food is a delicious, if sometimes challenging, culinary realm. Eat your fill of glutinous sticky rice served in bamboo baskets with spicy jeow, grilled fish, fried morning glory or bamboo soup. Try eating insects or animal organs if you have an adventurous palate, or play it safe and stick to delightful tropical fruits, fried rice and noodle soups.
Khmu New Year Festival
In Oudomxay Province in the north of Laos, the Khmu New Year Festival takes place from December 30th to January 1st. The people celebrate with colorful traditional dress, dancing, singing and traditional ethnic games. The Khmu give thanks to their ancestors at this time and pray for peace in the upcoming year. Book a trek or homestay to learn more about the Khmu and see life in the province.
Textiles and metal smithing
Handicrafts in Laos are meticulously crafted and unique to the regions in which they are created. Silk weaving in Laos is traditionally women’s work and is done on large looms constructed under Lao homes, which are built on stilts. Smithing of silver and other precious metals is also widely practiced in Laos by certain monks and hill tribes, such as the Hmong people.
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