21-09-2023 6.542 Views

Laos has a great identity and diversity of ethnic minorities. There are about 130 different ethnic groups in Laos, divided into 4 major categories: Lao Loum (50%), Lao Thai (about 15%), Lao Theung (25%) and Lao Sung (10%). Each ethnic group comes from a very distinct region. For example, the Lao Loum, come from the lower part of Laos, from the Mekong Valley. Lao Theung means Lao from the upper part and Lao Sung come from Upper Laos. About 40% of the Lao population is composed of minority ethnic groups of mountainous origin, including the Hmong and Khmou, which represent the largest groups.

  • For Laotians, the family is the centre of their lives, they mostly live in rural areas and have this very important aspect of the family.
  • A golden rule applies to Laos, it is better to keep calm, not to be aggressive or angry and thus to be patient. It is not necessary to be demanding and capricious, do not impose yourself, this can be very badly seen by the Laotians.
  • It is strongly not advised to touch the head of a Laotian, in Europe touching the head of someone can be seen as a friendly gesture, on the other hand it is not at all the case in Laos, it is for them a gesture that is very badly perceived. In fact, the Laotians believe that the head is sacred since it is the seat of the soul.
  • The Laotian culture is a culture of non-contact and the Laotians are generally calm, discreet and not very demonstrative. During a conversation, it is therefore customary to keep a certain distance from each other, an arm length being acceptable.
  • Finally, a last rule to remember regarding appearance: Laotians attach a lot of importance to body hygiene and cleanliness, so it is important for you to maintain a good hygiene, otherwise you will be a source of mockery for Laotians.

The official religion of Laos is Buddhism. Laos is home to about 22,000 monks. It will be impossible to miss them during your trip! You will notice them wearing the same yellow and orange dress, because they are the closest to saffron, the sacred spice of Buddhists, but also those of the dawn and gold that symbolizes purity. The wearing of this dress thus becomes a sign of renunciation and wisdom.

Remember to take off your shoes when you go into a temple or home.


Due to its geographical location, Laotian dishes contain Thai and/or Vietnamese influences. In Laotian cuisine, a large quantity of herbs and coconut milk are used, which is the main fat used.

  • Rice, which is usually found sticky, is part of the food base in Laos. With that, you add pork, beef, duck, chicken, or fish.
  • The "Laap" is the most famous national dish in Laos and is also served at traditional ceremonies. It is a specialty made from raw meat or fish, crushed with mortar with garlic and chilli and marinated in lemon juice. The whole is then mixed with uncooked rice grains that have been previously fried and ground.
  • Another very popular speciality is the "Tam mak houng". It is a finely grated and well seasoned green papaya salad. It contains chilli, kapi (shrimp paste) or nampou (crab paste), lemon juice and nampa (salted fish sauce) and peanuts.
  • The "Som pa" and "Som mou", are made from fish or pork meat mixed with fermented rice, which is presented wrapped with chili pepper in a banana leaf.
  • In addition to these essential Laotian dishes, there are steamed preparations, such as "mocha", meat or fish cut into small pieces, cooked with coconut milk and spices in a banana leaf.
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