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Art and culture in Laos

Lao has a rich culture heritage with religious art and architecture forming the corner stone of artistic traditions.

There exists across the country a plethora of distinctive monuments and architectural style. One of the most notable structures is That Luang, the great sacred Stupa, in Vientiane. It’s dome like stupa and four-cornered superstructure is the model for similar monuments across Laos. Stupas serve to commemorate the life of the Buddha and many stupas are said to house sacred Buddha relies (part of Buddha’s body)

Generally, Hiragana Buddhists cremate the dead body then place the bones in the stupa, which are set around the grounds of temples. Different styles of architecture are evident in the numerous Buddhism Wats. Three architectural styles can be distinguished, corresponding to the geographical location of the temples and monasteries . Wats built in Vientiane are large rectangular structures constructed of bricked and covered with stucco and high-peaked roofs. In Luang Prabang, the roofs sweep very low and unlike in Vientiane, almost reach the ground. These two styles are different from the Vats of Xiengkhouang where the temple roofs are not tiered.

Lao religious images and art is also distinctive and set Laos apart from its neighbors. “The calling for rain” posture of Buddha images in Lao, for example, which depicts the Buddha standing with this hands held rigidly at this side, fingers pointing to the ground, can not be found in other South East Asian Buddhist art traditions.

Religious influences are also pervasive in classical Lao literature, especially in the Pha Lak & Pha Lam and the Lao version of India’s epic Ramayana.

Projects are underway to preserve classic Lao religious scripts, which were transcripts onto palm leaf manuscripts hundreds of years ago and stored in Wats.

Another excellent example of the richness of Lao culture is in its folk music, which is extremely popular with the people throughout the whole country. The principle instrument is the Khean; a wind instrument, which comprises a double row of bamboo-like reeds, fitted in a hardwood sound box. The Khean is often accompanied by a bowed string instrument or saw. The national folk dance is the lamvong, a circle dance in which people dance in which people dance circles around each other so that ultimately there are three circles: a circle danced by individual, another one by the couple, and a third one danced by the whole party.

Art and Culture in Vientiane

Capital Vientiane is the capital of Laos and shares its border with Thailand. King Saysetthathirath constructed the city on the curve of the Mekong River in the 16th century.

The old part of Vientiane is an attractive and interesting settlement along the Mekong River where ancient temples, museums, monuments and parks are all located just a short distance from one another.

The cosmopolitan capital of Laos, Vientiane has galleries, boutiques, theatres, nightclubs and Internet cafes, making it a major attraction of visitors from all around the globe. Although small, the city offers visitors a great variety of restaurants serving both Lao and foreign cuisine.

Art and Culture in Luang Prabang (UNESCO)

Located in the northern of Laos. Luang Prabang is around 360 kilometers from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. It takes about 8 hours by bus or 35 minutes by Lao Airlines to reach and it is one of the most attractive areas of the country.

Nestled in the valley, surrounded by high mountains and situated along the Mekong and its tributaries, the town was once the former capital of Laos, during the Lane Xang Kingdom from the 13th to 16th centuries.

Luang Prabang is renewed as the cultural and religious capital of Laos. On the 2nd December 1995, UNESCO inscribed the town on to it’s World Heritage List, ensuring the preservation of a mixture of traditional Lao and French colonial architecture. The unique character and charm of Luang Prabang helps to make it the one of the most popular tourist destination in the country. The magnificent temples in Luang Prabang are considered among the most beautiful in South East Asia.

It is increasingly popular for both Lao and foreign tourists to visit Luang Prabang for Pi Mai Lao (the Lao New Year Festival), which takes place in mid April. The boat Racing Festival, which takes place in August, is also celebrated with an emphasis on features that are unique from other regions in Laos.

Art and Culture in Champasack

Fading French colonial architecture and ancient temple ruins make Champasack a place to see evidence of the rich cultural heritage of Laos. Rare freshwater dolphins and powerful waterfalls feature among the highlights to be seen in the province’s nature. Its geographical condition creates one of the most beautiful tourist sites in Laos.

Champasack has a population of about 600,000 including Lowland Lao, Highland Lao, Khmers and many unique ethnic minority groups. The province is also famous for the production of Lao coffee, tea, rattan, and other agricultural produces.

The distance from Vientiane to Pakse, the provincial capital of Champasack is 610 kilometers by Route 13 (south) via the provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, Savannakhet and Saravane.

Lao Festivals and Events

Laos cerebrates many annual festivals called “Boun” which are particularly enjoyable and beautiful, signifying traditional aspects of Lao lifestyle. Most festivals are connected with religion and the yearly rice farming cycle. The timing of the festivals is calculating according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.

Contact information : Lao Tourism Organization.
Address :                  Sethathirat Road, Sisaket Village, Chanthaboury District, Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Telephone :               +856 21 250791
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