LAOS

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)

 


 ITINERARIES

An ancient, UNESCO World Heritage-listed town surrounded by mountains and rivers and full of Buddhist temples.
DO
Wat 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.
EAT
L'Elephant Vert: Charming restaurant serving artfully prepared vegan, raw-food dishes.
Tamnak Lao: Family-owned restaurant serving delicious Laotian cuisine.
SHOP
Ma 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.

 



CULTURE FILE

Mother's Beloved: Stories from Laos by Outhine Bounyavong
A 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 Fadiman
The 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.
Aluna
Superstar Lao pop singer/songwriter drawing on traditional styles for her very contemporary songs.
Bounxeung Synanonh
A master of the khaen (Laotian bamboo mouth organ). You can listen to a performance (with video) here.
Khao Niaow
Sticky 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 Houng
Spicy 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 Ua
Pork sausage seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, lime and other ingredients.
Mok Pa
Fish steamed in a banana leaf.
Or Lam
A spicy stew popular in Luang Prabang with meat, eggplants, lemongrass, mushrooms and long beans.