The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Laos is a multi-ethnic socialist republic moving forward after a long period of colonialism and regional conflict. If you visit you’ll find lush valleys, mist-covered mountains and extensive forests, ornate Buddhist temples and hospitable people to welcome you.
BASICS /// Flag: 🇱🇦 // Capital: Vientiane // Currency: Lao/Laotian Kip // Languages: Lao (and the 86 or so different languages spoken by the country’s ethnic groups)
An ancient, UNESCO World Heritage-listed town surrounded by mountains and rivers and full of Buddhist temples.
DOWat Xieng Thong: Stunning temple decorated with intricate mosaics. Phu Si: Climb Mount Phu Si for a panoramic view of Luang Prabang and a visit to the temple at the top. Perfect at sunset. Kuang Si Falls: Three-tiered waterfall outside Luang Prabang. Stop by the Free the Bears sanctuary on the way into the falls to visit some adorable Asiatic black bears. Ock Pop Tok: Handicraft centre where you can learn about the art of weaving and purchase beautiful hand-made textiles.
EATL'Elephant Vert: Charming restaurant serving artfully prepared vegan, raw-food dishes. Tamnak Lao: Family-owned restaurant serving delicious Laotian cuisine.
SHOPMa Te Sai: Stop here to peruse a lovely assortment of homewares and textiles handmade in Laos. Night Market: Stock up on handicrafts at this nightly market beginning at dusk and running along Sisavangvong Road.
Mother's Beloved: Stories from Laos by Outhine BounyavongA collection of short stories from a contemporary Laotian author who writes about everyday people and their struggles. A few short stories from this collection are available to read here.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne FadimanThe story of a Hmong refugee family from Laos and their experiences with the American medical system after their daughter is diagnosed with epilepsy. In addition to being a work of medical anthropology, this book is also a detailed exploration of Hmong culture and American involvement in Laos.
AlunaSuperstar Lao pop singer/songwriter drawing on traditional styles for her very contemporary songs.
Bounxeung SynanonhA master of the khaen (Laotian bamboo mouth organ). You can listen to a performance (with video) here.
Khao NiaowSticky rice. A staple of Laotian cuisine, to the extent that Laotians sometimes refer to themselves as luk khao niaow, or "children of the sticky rice."
Larb (also Laap or Larp)A dish which combines marinated meat or fish and spices, fresh herbs, and greens.
Tam Mak HoungSpicy salad made from green papaya.
Kaipen (with Jaew Bong)A specialty snack from Luang Prabang made from freshwater green algae which is dried, mixed with vegetables and topped with sesame seeds . Note that "jaew" refers to a dipping sauce which may be made with different ingredients; in this case, jaew bong is made from roasted chilies.
Sai UaPork sausage seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, lime and other ingredients.
Mok PaFish steamed in a banana leaf.
Or LamA spicy stew popular in Luang Prabang with meat, eggplants, lemongrass, mushrooms and long beans.