Tiger Trail - We are Laos


- Culture and Tradition in Laos -

information about religion, culture, festivals and others
also refer to our calender with more information on cultural events in Laos


Despite its small population, Laos has no less than 68 tribal groups. About half of the population in Laos are Lao Loum, "lowland Lao" who live in the river plains and mostly along the Mekong region. Officially, this group includes the Lao Tai, who are subdivided into numerous subgroups. The Lao Theung (20-30%), or "upland Lao", live on mid-altitude slopes (officially defined as 300-900m), and are by far the poorest group, formerly used as slave labor by the Lao Loum. The label Lao Sung (10-30%) covers mostly Hmong and Mien tribes who live higher up in the mountains and which have been moving into Laos due to suppression in China about 200 years ago. Due to the lack of land and the warmer climate, the Lao Sung (e.g. Hmong) have been living in rougher mountain areas since than. They are also very known in the neighboring countries as well. There are also an estimated 2-5% Chinese and Vietnamese, concentrated in the cities living in Laos. And its getting more, expecially Chinese people who come to invest and do trade or transfer forest into plantations!


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Laos is officially Buddhist, and the national symbol, the gilded stupa of Pha That Luang in Vientiane, has replaced the hammer and sickle even on the state seal. Still, there is a good deal of animism mixed in, particularly in the baci (also baasi ) ceremony conducted to bind the 32 guardian spirits to the participant's body before a long journey, after serious illness, the birth of a baby or other significant events that happen in the life of a Lao person.

Lao custom dictates that 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 (not only for those who work there, but also for Lao women just visiting).


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Eating rice culture in Laos:
90% of the Lao people consume sticky rice. The basket which keeps the rice after steaming is called Tikao or kongkao and can be taken everywhere. 


Housing culture and tradition in Laos:
Houses, especially the ones of the low land Lao (Lao Loum) are built on stilts and have freespace underneath that roofs a triangle wind plates on each side. These are 2 types of houses; single and a double roofed how many steps on the stairs depends on the height of the house, but traditionally they made uneven numbers such as: 3 steps, 5 steps, 7 steps and 9 steps.


Lao Ways of dressing

Costumes depend on gender and age. Lao women wear the silk skirts, blouses and scarves to attend important ceremonies. Design of Lao women skirts : 1. Design with upper and lower parts. 2. Not too short and too long. 3. The upper part over the waist. 4. Lower part of skirt suitable. 5. Not too sexy. Attending significant events, Lao women wear scarves and coiled hair styles. Lao men wear salong, big large pants or the peasant pants to attend the important ceremonies. Paekaoma is used for cleaning the body, covering the head and others.

Costumes in previous periods 

Laos is one of the oldest nations in South East Asia . This place where was called Souvannaphoum and some Lao were settled in South of China called Anachak Ai-Lao. Due to the wars Lao migrated southward and established Monarchy Nanechao. The first king was named Sinoulo, governor of Nongsae as Chinese called Talifu town. It was the capital city of Nanechao had peace for quite a long time. The first governor called Nanechao-ong. Main occupations were cultivation, animal husbandry, and textile weavings. Hairstyle were coiled down to both sides down to the back and earrings. Men and women dressed same styles of pants of shirts made by textile no colour and they did not have any decoration wares.