Door decoration in Laos

Arts & Entertainment


One of the highlights of the trip to Lao for many foreign tourists is probably to experience the rich arts of the country which are quite different from those of other countries. Lao arts have been mostly found in religious architecture, in religious sculpture and traditional handicrafts.

Wherever you travel to in Laos, the most visible thing at each destination is always a Buddhist that or wat which shows a lot about the intricate fine arts of Laos. A Buddhist that is normally a spire-like, or lotus-bud-like structure rested on often multi-layered platform which is to commemorate the Buddha's life and to represent the cool effects of the Buddha's teachings. Some thats are believed to contain parts of the Buddha's body.

The most important structure of a Buddhist wat is always the ordination hall where all activities and ceremonies are to take place. There are some differences in style between wats in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khouang. The Vientiane style has multi-layered and high roof, the Luang Prabang style has multi-layered and low-sweeping roof and the Xieng Khouang style has only one-layered low-sweeping roof. The number of roof layers is to represent different teachings in Buddhism. It's often found that there are Naga and Mount Meru decorations found at many wats in Laos thanks to influence from Indian Hindu-Buddism.

Lao sculpture objects are normally made from wood or stone materials. Most sculptural objects involves the Buddha's past lives and teachings of the Buddha. There are fine collections of Lao sculpture at the Royal Museum in Luang Prabang and Wat Si Saket in Vientiane.

Laos also has a wide range of handicrafts ranging from well-ornamented silverwares to intricately woven baskets and mats. They are all available at any tourist shops in Vientiane and the night market at Luang Prabang. The night market in Luang Prabang is also the place to look for Lao traditional embroidery and fabric items.

Lao folk music is close to the people and is very lyrical. The main traditional musical instrument is the Khan which is made of lines of bamboo pipes, a wooden sound box. When playing the artist is to blow air into the bamboo pipes and control the holes on the bamboo pipes to make different tones and pitches. Once the Khan is played, people are to dance. The traditional dance of Lao is the lam wong which is to make different circles to bring everyone together. When dancing lam wong, the dancer can be with another dance and the whole crowd. The Lao often have lam wong dancing at their social occasions.