Theravada Buddhism is a dominant influence in Lao culture. It is reflected throughout the country from language to the temple and in art, literature, performing arts, etc. Many elements of Lao culture predate Buddhism, however. For example, Laotian music is dominated by its national instrument, the khaen, a type of bamboo pipe that has prehistoric origins. The khaen traditionally accompanied the singer in lam, the dominant style of folk music. Among the various lam styles, the lam saravane is probably the most popular.
The country has two World Heritage Sites: Luang Prabang and Vat Phou. The government is seeking the same status for the Plain of Jars.
The People's Republic of China has recently allowed its citizens to travel more freely to Laos. As such, Chinese tourists are expected to account for 25% of the total number of visitors to Laos (up from only a few percent) in 2006. Pressures to modernize tourist infrastructure, particularly to cater to package tourism, are expected to significantly impact Luang Prabang and other culturally important Laotian cities.
Rice is the staple food and has cultural and religious significance. There are many traditions and rituals associated with rice production in different environments, and among many ethnic groups. For example, Khammu farmers in Luang Prabang plant the rice variety Khao Kam in small quantities near the hut in memory of dead parents, or at the edge of the rice field to indicate that parents are still alive.
The grinding of sand paper can be heard during the day for houses and children play soccer on the streets with a bamboo ball. People talk leisurely very leisurely without raising their voices. Even butterflies seem to move slowly here.The occasional hum of a moto passing surprises one because of its intrusive noise.
First of all, as indicated with its 33 Buddhist temples Luang Prabang is a spiritual place. Every morning at day break, 5 am, the entire village lines the street to give ‘alms’ or perform ‘merit-making’ to the monks who are studying at these temples. The monks line up in procession with big metal urns over their mustard-yellow robes and as they walk by the villagers who bow on their knees, the villagers drop little offerings of savory dishes, little sticky rice packets in banana leaf and sweets for the monks to provide monks with illumination psychically and spiritually. In this symbiotic relationship, the monks are reliant on this food to survive and the villagers make alms to give back and show reverence to their faith. Such is the harmonious undercurrent of this town.
Check the weather before arriving in Luang Prabang as you never know when you will encounter a rainstorm.