Google+
Testimonials
  • "Private tour 16 days in Vietnam" We booked a private tour through Vietnam at Glad Travel Agency Co.,Ltd. Everything was organized perfectly. We were taken care of from the moment we got of the plane till... (May 30,2016)
    diana703
  • "Tom assisted our tour" Although we were not on this tour, Tom was instrumental in assisting us to join a tour at the very last minute upon our arrival in Hanoi disorganised. Very very helpful (May 30,2016)
    schmango
  • "Thailand with Glad Travel Agency Co.,Ltd" We have been in Thailand end of November. Our all trip was planned with and through Glad Travel Agency Co.,Ltd. We are very pleased and all trip was prepared perfectly.... (May 30,2016)
    Christopher P

About Laos

Laos officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in southeast Asia, bordered by Burma (Myanmar) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Laos traces its history to the Kingdom of Lan Xang or Land of a Million Elephants, which existed from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century.

Overview

Laos officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in southeast Asia, bordered by Burma (Myanmar) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Laos traces its history to the Kingdom of Lan Xang or Land of a Million Elephants, which existed from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century.


After a period as a French protectorate, it gained independence in 1949. A long civil war ended officially when the communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975, but the protesting between factions continued for several years.


 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Geography

Most of the western border of Laos is demarcated by the Mekong River, which is an important artery for transportation. The Dong falls at the southern end of the country prevent access to the sea, but cargo boats travel along the entire length of the Mekong in Laos during most of the year. Smaller power boats and pirogues provide an important means of transportation on many of the tributaries of the Mekong.


The Mekong has thus not been an obstacle but a facilitator for communication, and the similarities between Laos and northeast Thai society--same people, same language--reflect the close contact that has existed across the river for centuries. Also, many Laotians living in the Mekong Valley have relatives and friends in Thailand. Prior to the twentieth century, Laotian kingdoms and principalities encompassed areas on both sides of the Mekong, and Thai control in the late nineteenth century extended to the left bank. Although the Mekong was established as a border by French colonial forces, travel from one side to the other has been significantly limited only since the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR, or Laos) in 1975.


The eastern border with Vietnam extends for 2,130 kilometers, mostly along the crest of the Annamite Chain, and serves as a physical barrier between the Chinese-influenced culture of Vietnam and the Indianized states of Laos and Thailand. These mountains are sparsely populated by tribal minorities who traditionally have not acknowledged the border with Vietnam any more than lowland Lao have been constrained by the 1,754-kilometer Mekong River border with Thailand. Thus, ethnic minority populations are found on both the Laotian and Vietnamese sides of the frontier. Because of their relative isolation, contact between these groups and lowland Lao has been mostly confined to trading.


Laos shares its short--only 541 kilometers--southern border with Cambodia, and ancient Khmer ruins at Wat Pho and other southern locations attest to the long history of contact between the Lao and the Khmer. In the north, the country is bounded by a mountainous 423-kilometer border with China and shares the 235-kilometer-long Mekong River border with Burma.


The topography of Laos is largely mountainous, with elevations above 500 meters typically characterized by steep terrain, narrow river valleys, and low agricultural potential. This mountainous landscape extends across most of the north of the country, except for the plain of Vientiane and the Plain of Jars in Xiangkhoang Province. The southern "panhandle" of the country contains large level areas in Savannakhét and Champasak provinces that are well suited for extensive paddy rice cultivation and livestock rising. Much of Khammouan Province and the eastern part of all the southern provinces are mountainous. Together, the alluvial plains and terraces of the Mekong and its tributaries cover only about 20% of the land area.
Only about 4% of the total land area is classified as arable. The forested land area has declined significantly since the 1970s as a result of commercial logging and expanded swidden, or slash-and-burn, farming.


 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

 

Climate
On November 30, 2001, MODIS captured this image of southeastern Asia. The image focuses on the countries of Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, left to right respectively. In eastern Thailand, the brown coloring that dominates the center of the image and mimics the country's border with Laos and Cambodia, speaks of the massive deforestation that occurs in this region. One of southeastern Asia's prominent environmental concerns, deforestation has played a major role in flooding in the region.


Laos has a tropical monsoon climate, with a pronounced rainy season from May through October, a cool dry season from November through February, and a hot dry season in March and April. Generally, monsoons occur at the same time across the country, although that time may vary significantly from one year to the next. Rainfall also varies regionally, with the highest amounts-- 3,700 millimeters annually--recorded on the Bolovens Plateau in Champasak Province. City rainfall stations have recorded that Savannakhét averages 1,440 millimeters of rain annually; Vientiane receives about 1,700 millimeters, and Louangphrabang receives about 1,360 millimeters. Rainfall is not always adequate for rice cultivation, however, and the relatively high average precipitation conceals years where rainfall may be only half or less of the norm, causing significant declines in rice yields. Such droughts often are regional, leaving production in other parts of the country unaffected. Temperatures range from highs around 40°C along the Mekong in March and April to lows of 5°C or less in the uplands of Xiangkhoang and Phôngsali in January.


 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

 

Transportation

Because of its mountainous topography and lack of development, Laos has few reliable transportation routes. This inaccessibility has historically limited the ability of any government to maintain a presence in areas distant from the national or provincial capitals and has limited interchange and communication among villages and ethnic groups. The Mekong and Nam Ou are the only natural channels suitable for large-draft boat transportation, and from December through May low water limits the size of the craft that may be used over many routes. Laotians in lowland villages located on the banks of smaller rivers have traditionally traveled in pirogues for fishing, trading, and visiting up and down the river for limited distances. Otherwise, travel is by ox-cart over level terrain or by foot. The steep mountains and lack of roads have caused upland ethnic groups to rely entirely on pack baskets and horse packing for transportation.


 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 


watphu.jpg

Laos history

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, founded in the fourteenth century by Fa Ngum, himself descended from a long line of Lao kings, tracking back to Khoun Boulom. Lan-Xang prospered until the eighteenth century, when the kingdom was divided into three principalities, which eventually came under Siamese suzerainty. In the 19th century, Luang Prabang was incorporated into the 'Protectorate' of French Indochina, and shortly thereafter, the Kingdom of Champasak and the territory of Vientiane were also added to the protectorate. Under the French, Vientiane once again became the capital of a unified Lao state. Following a brief Japanese occupation during World War II, the country declared its independence in 1945, but the French under De Gaulle re-asserted their control and only in 1950 was Laos granted semi-autonomy as an "associated state" within the French Union. Moreover, the French remained in de facto control until 1954, when Laos gained full independence as a constitutional monarchy. Under a special exemption to the Geneva Convention, a French military training mission continued to support the Royal Laos Army. In 1955, the U.S. Department of Defense created a special Programs Evaluation Office to replace French support of the Royal Lao Army against the communist Pathet Lao as part of the U.S. containment policy.


Laos was dragged into the Vietnam War, and the eastern parts of the country were invaded and occupied by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), which used Laotian territory as a staging ground and supply route for its war against the South. In response, the United States initiated a bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese, supported regular and irregular anticommunist forces in Laos and supported a South Vietnamese invasion of Laos. The result of these actions were a series of coups d'état and, ultimately, the Laotian Civil War between the Royal Laotian government and the communist Pathet Lao.


In the Civil War, the NVA, with its heavy artillery and tanks, was the real power behind the Pathet Lao insurgency. In 1968, the North Vietnamese Army launched a multi-division attack against the Royal Lao Army. The attack resulted in the army largely demobilizing and leaving the conflict to irregular forces raised by the United States and Thailand. The attack resulted many people losing their lives. Massive aerial bombardment by the United States followed as it attempted to eliminate North Vietnamese bases in Laos in order to disrupt supply lines on the Ho Chi Minh trail.


Pha That Luang in Vientiane, the national symbol of Laos.
In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao, backed by the Soviet Union and the North Vietnamese Army (justified by the communist ideology of "proletarian internationalism"), overthrew the royalist government, forcing King Savang Vatthana to abdicate on December 2, 1975. He later died in captivity.


After taking control of the country, Pathet Lao's government renamed the country as the "Lao People's Democratic Republic" and signed agreements giving Vietnam the right to station military forces and to appoint advisers to assist in overseeing the country. Laos was ordered in the late 1970s by Vietnam to end relations with the People's Republic of China which cut the country off from trade with any country but Vietnam.[citation needed] Control by Vietnam and socialization were slowly replaced by a relaxation of economic restrictions in the 1980s and admission into ASEAN in 1997.
In 2005, the United States established Normal Trade Relations with Laos, ending a protracted period of punitive import 



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


People

69% of the country's people are ethnic Lao, the principal lowland inhabitants and the politically and culturally dominant group. The Lao belong to the Tai linguistic group who began migrating southward from China in the first millennium AD. 8% belong to other "lowland" groups, which together with the Lao people make up the Lao Loum.


Hill people and minority cultures of Laos such as the Hmong (Miao), Yao (Mien), Dao, Shan, and several Tibeto-Burman speaking peoples have lived in isolated regions of Laos for many years. Mountain/hill tribes of mixed ethno/cultural-linguistic heritage are found in northern Laos which include the Lua (Lua) and Khmu people who are indigenous to Laos. Today, the Lua people are considered endangered. Collectively, they are known as Lao Soung or highland Laotians. In the central and southern mountains, Mon-Khmer tribes, known as Lao Theung or mid-slope Laotians, predominate. Some Vietnamese, Chinese and Thailand Thai minorities remain, particularly in the towns, but many left in two waves; after independence in the late 1940s and again after 1975.


The term "Laotian" does not necessarily refer to the ethnic Lao language, ethnic Lao people, language or customs, but is a political term that also includes the non-ethnic Lao groups within Laos and identifies them as "Laotian" because of their political citizenship.


 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Language

The official and dominant language is Lao, a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group. The written language is based on Khmer writing script. Midslope and highland Lao speak an assortment of tribal languages. French, still common in government and commerce, is still studied by many, as while of English, the language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has increased in recent years.


 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Culture

Lao cuisine is the cuisine of the Lao ethnic group of Laos and Northeast Thailand (Isan). Lao food is distinct from other Southeast Asian cuisines. The staple food of the Lao is sticky rice. Galangal and fish sauce are important ingredients. The Lao national dish is laap (sometimes also spelled larb), a spicy mixture of marinated meat and/or fish that is sometimes raw (prepared like ceviche) with a variable combination of greens, herbs, and spices. Another characteristic dish is tam mak houng (related to som tam in Thai and bok l'hong in Khmer), a spicy green papaya salad.


Lao cuisine has many regional variations, according in part to the fresh foods local to each region. A French influence is also apparent in the capital city, Vientiane, such that baguettes are sold on the street, and French restaurants (often with a naturally Lao, Asian-fusion touch) are common and popular. Vietnamese cuisine is also popular in Laos.


Characteristics
Som mou, a Lao "ham" dish, which can also be liked to salami in Western Society.
Lao food differs from neighboring cuisines in multiple respects. One is that the Lao meal almost always includes a large quantity of fresh raw greens, vegetables and herbs served undressed on the side. Another is that savory dishes are never sweet. "Sweet and sour" is generally considered bizarre and foreign in Laos.

Eating customs
A ka toke, a platform for arranging and presenting a Lao meal.
The traditional manner of eating was communal, with diners sitting on a reed mat on the wooden floor around a raised platform woven out of rattan called a ka toke. Dishes are arranged on the ka toke, which is of a standard size. Where there are many diners, multiple ka tokes will be prepared. Each ka toke will have one or more baskets of sticky rice, which is shared by all the diners at the ka toke.


In recent times, eating at a ka toke is the exception rather than the rule. The custom is maintained, however, at temples, where each monk is served his meal on a ka toke. Once food is placed on the "ka toke" it becomes a "pha kao." In modern homes, the term for preparing the table for a meal is still taeng pha kao, or prepare the phah kao.


Traditionally, spoons were used only for soups and white rice, and chopsticks were used only for noodles. Most food was handled by hand. The reason this custom evolved is probably due to the fact that sticky rice can only be easily handled by hand.


Lao meals typically consist of a soup dish, a grilled dish, a sauce, greens, and a stew or mixed dish (koy or laap). The greens are usually fresh raw greens, herbs and other vegetables, though depending on the dish they accompany, they could also be steamed or more typically, parboiled. Dishes are not eaten in sequence; the soup is sipped throughout the meal. Beverages, including water, are not typically a part of the meal. When guests are present, the meal is always a feast, with food made in quantities sufficient for twice the number of diners. For a host, not having enough food for guests would be humiliating.
The custom is to close the rice basket when one is finished eating.


Special foods:daily_mar09_2006_larb.jpg
Larb is a type of Lao meat salad. It is most often made with chicken, beef, duck, turkey, pork or even fish, flavored with fish sauce and lime. The meat can be either raw or cooked; it is minced and mixed with chilli, mint and, optionally, assorted vegetables. Roughly ground toasted rice (kao kua) is also a very important component of the dish. The dish is served at room temperature and usually with a serving of sticky rice. A common variation is neu-ah nam tok ("waterfall beef" but it could mean the dripping of meat juice during the grilling as well), in which beef is cut into thin strips instead of using ground beef.


Larb is the unofficial national dish of Laos and is also a common dish in Thai cuisine. It is quite common to see this popular Lao meat salad served at Thai restaurants.


There is also a variant from Northern Thailand which does not use lime or fish sauce, but rather other local condiments for flavor and seasoning. "Larb pla" is one kind of larb which made of minced fish mixed with spices. There is a kind of larb called lu, which made of minced raw beef mixed with blood, bile and spices. Lu is usually eaten with vegetables and often served with beer or the local moonshine called lao khao.


Som tam or Som tum also known as Tam mak hoong is a spicy salad made from shredded unripened papaya originally from Laos and Lao-settled Isan region of northeastern Thailand. Variations of the dish are found throughout Laos and Thailand, as well as in the West, where it is more commonly known by its Thai version and Thai name. A similar dish is also eaten in Cambodia, where it is known as bok l'hong. It is often served with sticky rice and gai yang, It is also sometimes served over rice noodles and raw vegetables to mitigate the spiciness of the dish, or simply as a snack by itself with crispy pork rinds.
 


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Laos Music

Laos is dominated by the Lao but includes minorities of Hmong, Mien, Kmhmu, among many others. The most distinctive Lao musical instrument is a bamboo mouth organ called a khene. The instrument was supposedly invented by a woman trying to imitate the calls of the garawek bird. The woman took the new instrument to her king, and he told her it was fair, but that he wanted more. She modified the instrument and he replied "Tia nee khaen dee" (this time it was better).


KheneKhenesarong.jpg
Khene is what makes Lao people which the Lao people makes the khene. The national proverb is, "A person living under a stilted house, eat sticky rice, listen to any music related to Lam or Morlam, and play the Khene is likely to be Lao or associated with Lao people."
The Khene is made from a special kind of bamboo. It looks slightly Andean in appearance with its sets of bamboo and reed pipes of various lengths, which are strapped together, and then blow into by the player. It can be played solo as in traditional Lao music or in combination with other musical instruments to accompany modern songs.


Classical music
The classical form is closely related to that of the Siamese. The Lao classical orchestra can be divided into two categories, Sep Nyai (or Mahori) and Sep Noi. The Sep Nyai is ceremonial and formal music and includes: two sets of gongs (kong vong), a xylophone (lanat), an oboe (pei or salai), two large kettle drums and two sets of cymbals (xing). The Sep Noi, capable of playing popular tunes, includes two bowed string instruments, the So U and the So I, also known to the Indians. These instruments have a long neck or fingerboard and a small sound box; this sound box is made of bamboo in the So U and from a coconut in the So I. Both instruments have two strings, and the bow is slid between these two strings, which are tuned at a fifth apart and always played together. Furthermore this mahori or Sep noi ensemble (the sep nyai is strictly percussion and oboe) may include several khene. In this respect, it differs markedly from the mahori orchestras of Cambodia and Siam.


Some ethnomusicologists believe that Laos is a country where the ancient art music of the Khmer people has been best preserved -- as well as diverse forms of folk music related to the oldest types of Indian music, music that has largely disappeared in India itself. They claim to find in Laos a scale which the ancient Hindus called the "celestial scale," the Gandhara grama, which is a tempered heptatonic scale, or a division of the octave into seven equal parts.
The Royal Lao Orchestra, consisting of musicians of the former court of the king of Laos, who fled Laos following the communist takeover in 1975, now reside in Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee, United States.


Folk Music
Lao folk music, known as Lam, is extemporaneous singing accompanied by the khene. It is popular both in Laos and Thailand, where there is a large ethnic Lao population.

 


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


 

Religion


Buddhismboonlay.jpg
Theravada Buddhism is by far the most prominent organized religion in the country, with nearly 5,000 temples serving as the focus of religious practice as well as the center of community life in rural areas. In most lowland Lao villages, religious tradition remains strong. Most Buddhist men spend some part of their lives as monks in temples, even if only for a few days. There are approximately 22,000 monks in the country, nearly 9,000 of whom have attained the rank of "senior monk," indicating years of study in temples. In addition, there are approximately 450 nuns, generally older women who are widowed, residing in temples throughout the country. The Buddhist Church is under the direction of a supreme patriarch who resides in Vientiane and supervises the activities of the church's central office, the Ho Thammasapha..


Buddhist ceremonies generally do not mark events in a life- cycle, with the exception of death. Funerals may be quite elaborate if the family can afford it but are rather simple in rural settings. The body lies in a coffin at home for several days, during which monks pray, and a continual stream of visitors pay their respects to the family and share food and drink. After this period, the body is taken in the coffin to a cremation ground and burned, again attended by monks. The ashes are then interred in a small shrine on the wat grounds.


Although officially incorporated into the dominant Mahanikai School of Buddhist Practice after 1975, the Thammayudh sect of Buddhism still maintains a following in the country. Abbots and monks of several temples, particularly in Vientiane, reportedly are followers of the Thammayudh School, which places greater emphasis on meditation and discipline.


Animism
Despite the importance of Buddhism to Lao Loum and some Lao Theung groups, animist beliefs are widespread among all segments of the Lao population. The belief in phi (spirits) colors the relationships of many Lao with nature and community and provides one explanation for illness and disease. Belief in phi is blended with Buddhism, particularly at the village level, and some monks are respected as having particular abilities to exorcise malevolent spirits from a sick person or to keep them out of a house. Many wat have a small spirit hut built in one corner of the grounds that is associated with the phi khoun wat, the beneficent spirit of the monastery.


Christianity
Christianity is a minority religion in Laos. There are three recognized Churches in Laos: the Lao Evangelical Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
There are approximately 45,000 members of the Roman Catholic Church, many of whom are ethnic Vietnamese, concentrated in major urban centers and surrounding areas along the Mekong River in the central and southern regions of the country. 


Islam
Muslims are a small minority in this Buddhist majority country. Muslims are visible in the capital, Vientiane, that also has a Jama Masjid.


The Muslim population is mostly engaged in trade and manage meat shops. A small community of Cham Muslims from Cambodia who escaped the Khmer Rouge is also found. Muslims live primarily in urban areas


Laos used to part of Khmer Empire and has some remaining Hindu temples.
The Bahá'í Faith has approximately 8,000 adherents and 4 centers: 2 in Vientiane Municipality, 1 in Vientiane Province, and 1 in Savannakhet Province. A small number of Bahá'í also live in Khammouane Province and in Pakse City.
Small groups of followers of Confucianism and Taoism practice their beliefs in the larger cities