Traveling in Laos

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Laotian & Thai Languages

The language of Thailand and Laos is inter-related so that the people of Laos often, if not usually,  
understand Thai. This why you will most often see either “Vat” or “Wat” designating a temple, Wat  
being the Thai designation, Vat being the Lao designation.

The Sacred in Luang Prabang & Vientiane
As we've mentioned in our CURRENT section, the U.S. eradicated most of the old temples and  
monasteries in Laos except in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, so for those going to see old  
monasteries, temples and stupas your visit will be concentrated in these two cities. In Vientiane,  
temples are often closed and monks are not seen so often.  However, Laos has other things to offer  
that will bring a balance and sanity to your trip. Nature is one of those things. Laos is naturally  
splendid with many, many places to explore, even just a short distance from cities.

In Luang Prabang it is easy to meet monks of all ages who are approachable despite seeing  
probably more than their share of tourists. The young are usually quite interested in talking with  
visitors. The evenings in both rural towns and cities is the time to join Laotians in their temples for  
chanting. Just listening to the chanting can bring you good “dharma” (good merit.)


Many Westerners contribute to the Laotian people in Luang Prabang through numerous programs.  
One, of the contributing activities you see under the trees at monasteries and in the library are  
language lessons. Books are greatly in demand, so if you can arrive with some appropriate books  
and leave them behind, they will be tremendously appreciated. Of the Western languages, French is  
widely read, as well as, English. Luang Prabang even has a “Book Boat” that drops off books with  
people as it travels along the Mekong River.


Laos has beautiful current ballads and popular music. You will hear it on long trips in vans and in  
any restaurant that has a live band.  We've never mentioned the music of any country in particular,  
but Laotian contemporary music deserves to be noted.

Evenings Along the Mekong in Vientiane

In Vientiane, along the Mekong River there is the hasty construction every night of many  
enterprising restaurants (a high-end night market) with a bazaar further down the walkway. Walking  
along the Mekong in the evening while staying in Vientiane is a treat. It is well-kept and very  
attractive. During your walk, you may come across temple chanting across the street, heart-touching  
music, lots of arts and crafts and of course, food freshly prepared in front of your eyes.

For appropriate dress while visiting sacred places, please see the “Traveling In Thailand” footnote.

Wat Bansophoun, Chiang Kwai, Laos
Wat Pahouak - Luang Prabang, Laos
Vatmay Souvannapoumara - Morning Street Scene Luang Prabang, Laos
Vatmay Souvannapoumara - Luang Prabang, Laos
Vat Sop Sickaram - Luang Prabang, Laos
Wat Sop Sick Haram - Luang Prabang, Laos
Vat Xieng Thon Ratsavoravihanh - Luang Prabang, Laos
Vat Xieng Thong - Luang Prabang, Laos
Decorative Endpiece for Pole Suspending Temple Boat - Luang Prabang, Laos
Young Gardener Monk - Vat Pak Khan Khammungkhun - Siem Reap, Laos
Wat Hosian Voravihne - Luang Prabang, Laos
Wat Hosian Voravihne - Luang Prabang, Laos
Stupa -Vat Aham - Luang Prabang, Laos
Vat Manorom - Luang Prabang, Laos
Children with New Friend - Luang Prabang, Laos
Traditional Laos Dress for Women
Vatmay Souvannapoumaram - Luang Prabang, Laos
Mekong River - Luang Prabng, Laos
Photo Exibit at Wat Sidoutthabot Thippharam
Vat Phanluangratsouda Ram - Siem Reap, Laos
Vat Phanluangratsonda Ram - Siem Reap, Laos
Yogi Saint in Cave of Vat Phanluangratsouda Ram - Luang Prabang, Laos
Impeng Temple - Vientiane, Laos
Part of the Inpeng Temple Complex - Vientiane, Laos
Inpeng Temple - Vientiane, Laos