Since ancient times, the Lao lunar calendar has celebrated traditional festivals, one per month, in a cycle called Hit Sip Song (the twelve traditions). These are celebrated in different ways in different areas of the country, with some of these rituals nearly disappearing. Get a deeper look at how Lao people honor their customs and build karma throughout the year.

Boun Khao Kam

The calendar begins in December, which was traditionally a time for Buddhist monks to enter a period of meditation in a cave, a forest, or a remote temple, in order to make merit for the coming year.

Boun Kong Khao

After the harvest ends, Lao people traditionally made merit to the rice spirits, so that they could have a plentiful harvest the next year. This is still famously celebrated with large ceremonial haystacks in Phieng district, Xayaboury Province.

Boun Khao Chi

In the past, locals placed mounds of sticky rice on long sticks to grill and offer to monks. This practice comes from an old Buddhist story in which a poor woman only a little amount of rice but gave it to the Buddha instead of eating it herself.

Boun Phavet ​

This is a large event throughout Laos. Each temple celebrates on different days. In the ceremony, monks chant the ancient story of the generous King Vessantara, who is believed to be a previous incarnation of the Buddha. Locals celebrate with village parades to their temple to make merit, listen to the tale, and make offerings.

(Photo: Champa Meuang Lao)

Boun Pi Mai (Lao New Year)

Lao New Year falls in the middle of April. Traditionally, everyone in Laos makes merit with family, cleans their home, and sprinkles water over Buddha images, elders, and monks to build karma. In modern times, this has devolved into a three-day water fight during the hottest month of the year. A Miss New Year pageant is held and the winner paraded through town, representing one of seven daughters of a mythical god. The best spot to observe both traditional and modern sides of this festival is in Luang Prabang.

Boun Bang Fai

As the rice fields are prepared for planting, the most essential ingredient for a bountiful harvest is rain. Lao people summon rain by launching homemade bamboo rockets at the heavens, so that the gods will take notice and grant their request. This is accompanied by much music and merrymaking.

Boun Xa Lang

In the past, Lao people would make merit to the protector spirits of their village, and to ask them to drive out evil and protect the happiness and prosperity of the people for the next year.

Boun Khao Phansa

The three-month Buddhist Lent begins in July, which also coincides with the rainy season in Laos. Monks are required to stay in one temple for the duration, which comes from an old practice of wandering monks inadvertently trampling farmers’ crops during the growing season. Lao people make certain to give alms on this morning.

Boun Hor Khao Padap Din

On this holiday, hungry and forgotten spirits come out to wander the Earth. Banana leaf containers are made and filled with sweets and offerings to be left around fences, gates, and houses for the hungry ghosts. This holiday is also marked with boat racing on the Khan River in Luang Prabang.

Boun Khao Salak

Lao people gather baskets full of food and household items and offer at temples to make merit for family members and ancestors who have already passed away.

Boun Ork Phansa

At the end of Buddhist Lent, Lao people make merit to the spirit of the river. Small floats are constructed out of banana trunks and decorated with banana leaves and flowers, as well as candles and small offerings. In the evening, these are set afloat in the river. Luang Prabang celebrates with a large decorated fireboat parade through town, while Vientiane Capital celebrates with boat racing.

Boun Kathin

The final holiday in the calendar is marked with a large merit making where people donate new robes and other offerings to monks. In Vientiane Capital, a huge week-long festival is held at That Luang stupa where people from all over the country come to participate and build karma.


The Department of Information, Culture, and Tourism of Vientiane Capital is expediting its preparations to welcome a higher influx of foreign visitors during Laos’ ASEAN Chairmanship and as part of Visit Laos Year 2024.

The Director of the Vientiane Capital Information, Culture, and Tourism Department, Mrs. Vilayvone Chanthalaty, said that the department is monitoring the improvement of hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions as part of preparations to host important meetings during Laos’ ASEAN Chairmanship next year.

According to Mrs. Vilayvone, Vientiane Capital has allowed tourism operators to open 288 hotels with over 10,000 rooms to accommodate official guests and tourists visiting the country. The city currently also has over 270 guesthouses with over 6,000 rooms for visitors.

Mrs. Vilayvone added that the city has nine five-star hotels at the moment and there are plans to open three more by the end of 2023. Four-star and three-star hotels have also been inspected and certified by relevant ministries for the coming year.

Moreover, Vientiane Capital’s Tourism Department has been working with other departments to inspect and ensure that hotels have enough water and electricity, and measures are also in place to keep the city clean.

“We have been collaborating with other government agencies to ensure that hotels have adequate water and electricity and that the city, particularly parks and other public areas, are kept clean,” said Mrs. Vilayvone.

Mrs. Vilayvone further mentioned that the department is also focusing on renovating important tourist attractions in Vientiane Capital, such as Pha That Luang Stupa, Ho Phrakeo Museum, Sisaket Temple, Patuxai Monument, and other attractions.

Tourism companies have also been roped in by the government to develop tour plans that will be available at hotels for tourists to look at and plan their visits to other provinces from Vientiane Capital.

“We are dedicated to offering the highest quality services to all visitors so that they can appreciate the country’s distinctive culture and attractions, and have a lasting positive impression about Laos,” said Mrs. Vilayvone.

However, recently, many social media users in Vientiane Capital have expressed anger and frustration over the poor state of the city’s roads, urging the government to make road repairs a top priority.

A National Assembly member from Vientiane Capital has also urged tourism police to be more prompt in assisting tourists visiting Laos so that they can have a positive and safe experience in the country.


In a move to strengthen bilateral ties between Laos and Russia, the Lao Vice President, Pany Yathotou met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Vladivostok, Russia on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

According to President Putin who extended a warm welcome to VP Pany, Laos, and Russia have a longstanding relationship, and President Pany herself has made some remarkable contributions to the development of relations between the two nations.

“We know you as our good, reliable friend. You have visited our country several times and, as chairman of parliament, you have made a significant contribution to the development of bilateral parliamentary relations,” he said.

President Putin also asked Ms. Pany to convey his regards to Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith, who is currently in Cuba to attend the G77 Summit.

While thanking the Russian President for extending an invitation to Laos to participate in the Eastern Economic Forum, Ms. Pany said, “Due to the previously agreed state visit of our President to Cuba to attend the G77 summit, he was not able to personally participate in this event.”

Additionally, the Russian Leader commented on the humanitarian ties between Laos and Russia which both nations have been taking steps to grow over the years. He specifically highlighted the influx of Lao students to study medicine at Russian universities as part of this development initiative.

President Putin also spoke about the military collaboration between the two nations, expressing hope for future growth in this area.

“Contacts also continue through military departments. I am sure that all this has good prospects for development,” said the Russian leader.

From 10-13 September, Vice President Pany is attending the Eastern Economic Forum as a senior foreign guest. The event aims to develop economic cooperation between participating countries and encourage foreign investment in the region.

After attending the forum, President Putin left Vladivostok to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur Region.


During a handover ceremony at the closing of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, Laos took over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from Indonesia on Thursday, 7 September.

During the ceremony, Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone received the gavel of ASEAN Chairmanship from Indonesian President Joko Widodo and pledged to build a more connected and resilient ASEAN during the country’s chairmanship in 2024.

PM Sonexay expressed his sincere congratulations to the Indonesian President as well as the Indonesian government and people on the successful hosting of the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related summits and said that Laos is prepared to cooperate closely with other ASEAN members and partners to ensure the success of its chairmanship.

“Laos is honored to assume the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2024,” PM Sonexay said. “We will build upon the achievements made under Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship and the success of ASEAN over the past years.”

Under the theme “Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience”, PM Sonexay affirmed that Laos will continue to work together with other ASEAN member countries to strengthen the ASEAN community and create opportunities to address geopolitical and geo-economic challenges and changes.

Additionally, PM Sonexay said that Laos will work to expand ASEAN’s external relations, strengthen ASEAN’s centrality and unity, and develop a regional architecture for stability, peace, and development in the ASEAN region during its chairmanship.

“We will continue to enhance connectivities, narrow the development gaps (among ASEAN countries), promote carbon neutrality, and advance digital transformation in the region and economic integration,” Sonexay added.

Although the chairmanship was symbolically transferred, Indonesia will continue to carry out chairmanship responsibilities until Laos officially takes over early next year.

Laos will assume the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2024, followed by Malaysia in 2025. The Philippines will take over the chairmanship in 2026 instead of Myanmar, which is currently in political turmoil.

The ASEAN leaders agreed that the chairmanship rotation after the Philippines will follow the alphabetical order of member countries’ names unless otherwise decided.


Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet for a working breakfast on Tuesday, 5 September, while attending the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings in Jakarta.

During their interaction, the three leaders shared information about the economic and social development of their countries and discussed areas of common cooperation and regional and international issues of interest.

The three leaders agreed to work together in a number of areas, including national defense and security, economics and trade, and investment, particularly in supporting each other in regional and international frameworks, such as the ASEAN Cooperation Framework and the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

Additionally, the leaders also agreed to promote educational exchanges by providing financial support for students to study in each other’s countries and learn about their cultures and languages, to boost future relations between the three nations.

The leaders also agreed to continue implementing agreements and conventions, hold regular joint mechanism meetings, and research ways to facilitate trilateral trade among the three countries.

On this occasion, PM Sonexay and PM Pham Minh Chinh took the opportunity to congratulate Cambodia on the success of its election, the overwhelming victory of the Cambodian People’s Party, and the election of Hun Manet as the new Prime Minister.

PM Sonexay also invited PM Hun Manet to visit Laos in the future and expressed hope for future support and cooperation from Vietnam and Cambodia during Laos’ ASEAN Chairmanship in 2024.


Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone along with other high-ranking delegates arrived on Monday in Jakarta, Indonesia, to attend the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings that are being held under the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth” from 4-7 September.

Upon arrival in Jakarta, PM Sonexay and his delegates attended the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit 2023, which was organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC).

The summit brought together key stakeholders from ASEAN and its dialogue partners to discuss ways to boost trade and investment in the region, with over 2,000 delegates from 50 countries attending the event.

In his speech, PM Sonexay highlighted opportunities and challenges faced by ASEAN in areas of economic integration, climate change, and sustainable development. He also called on ASEAN to work together for a business-friendly environment and centrality in regional and global economies.

PM Sonexay also witnessed the handover of the chairmanship of the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit (ABIS) from Indonesia to Laos. The new chairman is Mr. Oudet Souvannavong, the president of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as Laos will host the next ABIS meeting in 2024.


Prime Minister, Sonexay Siphandone, held bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Australia and Timor-Leste, along with the Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on Wednesday.

During the meeting with Antony Albanese, Australia’s Prime Minister, both leaders acknowledged the long-standing bilateral relationship and collaboration between the two nations, spanning 71 years.

According to the Lao National Radio, both leaders also expressed eagerness to continue developing the Lao-Australian Comprehensive Partnership in the near future.

Additionally, both leaders conveyed appreciation for joint efforts by the two nations within the ASEAN-Australia cooperation framework, particularly during Laos’ role as the ASEAN-Australia coordinating country from 2021-2024.

Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone then met with Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, reaffirming Laos’ support for Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership.

Currently, Timor-Leste is only a part of the bloc in principle, however, a road map for the nation’s full membership has been agreed upon after its first submission to become a member over a decade ago.

Both leaders expressed high regard for the strong friendship and cooperation between Laos and Timor-Leste over the past two decades as well.

On the same day, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone also met with Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva, Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their discussions focused on past cooperation between Laos and the IMF, as well as plans for future collaboration. 

The IMF’s support for economic and financial development since 1961 has significantly contributed to the socio-economic progress of Laos, and it is hoped that this support will continue, especially as Laos prepares for its ASEAN chairmanship in 2024.

Laos’ Prime Minister also witnessed the handover of the chairmanship of the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit (ABIS) from Indonesia to Laos, during his official visit to Jakarta this week.


The planned Laos-Vietnam Railway, running from Thakhek district in Khammouane province to the Lao-Vietnamese border, is expected to be completed and open for service in 2028.

The Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PTL), in cooperation with Yooshin Engineering Corporation and Korea National Railway, will conduct a detailed design study of the railway before construction begins.

A cooperation agreement on the project was signed in Vientiane last week by the President of Petroleum Trading Lao Public (PTL) Company, Mr. Chanthone Sitthixay, the President of Yooshin Engineering Corporation, Mr. Chon Kyung-soon, and the Executive Director of Korea National Railway, Mr. Park Jin-Hyun.

The signing ceremony was attended by the President of the Executive Board of Strategy and Planning at PTL Holding Company Limited, Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, senior government officials from the ministries of Planning and Investment, Natural Resources and Environment, and Public Works and Transport, as well as other relevant government bodies and company representatives.

The Laos-Vietnam Railway will be built over a distance of 250 kilometers and will cost USD 2 billion to construct, Mr. Chanthone said.

“Our company has been granted the right to be the developer. We have made every effort to fulfill our obligations under the project and have already achieved key milestones such as the completion and approval of the economic and technical feasibility study and the environmental impact study.”

“The signing of the concession agreement and the detailed design study will pave the way for the construction phase in the future,” he added.

“Yooshin Engineering Corporation and Korea National Railway of the Republic of Korea have proven their high level of competency and great experience internationally about their outstanding expertise in engineering, design, construction, technology, and the management of railway projects globally and with great efficiency for over 60 years.”

“For this reason, I would like to express my deep appreciation of this step forward in cooperation through the detailed design study at this time and the further dedication of our company to this project.”

“I have full confidence that under the guidance and support of the Party and Lao government, the Laos-Vietnam Railway will be built as planned and that targets will be achieved,” Mr. Chanthone said.

When built and put into service, the Laos-Vietnam Railway will contribute to the development of a modern and standardized transport infrastructure system.

In addition, it will reduce the cost of transport to enhance the socio-economic development of Laos and will be a reliable source of revenue for the government’s budget over the long term.

The railway will strengthen Laos’ connectivity as a transport and trade hub within ASEAN and beyond, all of which will bring great benefits to the people of Laos, and the country will become more and more prosperous in a sustainable way.

The overall aim of the project is to support the Lao government’s vision and the country’s development strategy of transforming Laos from a landlocked country into a land-linked country.

The Laos-Vietnam Railway is a part of the Laos Logistics Link Project, which includes a number of sub-projects such as the Thanaleng Dry Port and Vientiane Logistics Park, the Laos-Vietnam Railway, Vung Ang Seaport, and the Boualapha Coal Fired Power Plant.


Wake up early in the morning, wear new clothes, go to Lorat, take photos at the fountain… Only the people of Luang Prabang understand… See you on September 13-14, 2023, the 9th month festival, wrapped in rice and decorated with rice in the capital of Prabang.

  • September 13, 2023 at 6:30-12:00 Lorat (at the mass market) at Sisang Vong Road.
  • On September 14, 2023 at 5:30 p.m., the ceremony to put on the bat, at 8:30 p.m. to watch the beautiful boats, at 9:00 p.m. the official opening of the boat competition.


Vang Vieng district authorities have made improvements to various facilities and services in the hopes of making a great first impression on visitors during Visit Laos Year 2024.

Mr. Atthayasai Manivanh, the head of the Vang Vieng Information, Culture, and Tourism Office, said that checks have been made at hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants to ensure that quality of services, cleanliness, and safety standards have been improved and met a high standard.

District authorities have also taken steps to reduce noise pollution at entertainment venues near Nam Song River, repaired a 26-kilometer stretch of road along the river, and improved a six-kilometer access road to Kaeng Yui waterfall, the Vientiane Times reported.

Vang Vieng officials have made improvements to existing infrastructure as well, including the construction of a car park, a bridge, restaurants, and shops. They are also planning to hold several festivals, such as the Vang Vieng music festival in the winter, off-road racing in the wet season, and other adventure activities.

However, a current labor shortage has slowed down infrastructure upgrades in the riverside town along with numerous other parts of the country. Additionally, construction work was affected by flooding last month, which also affected tourism businesses.

According to the Vang Vieng Information, Culture, and Tourism Office, the Vang Vieng district welcomed over 300,000 tourists in the first six months of 2023, with more than 100,000 of them coming from other countries. The authorities are expecting the district to attract more tourists in the upcoming year.

Additionally, Sekong provincial authorities are also planning to improve the tourism infrastructure and amenities at Tad Fai Mai waterfall to attract more visitors for Visit Laos Year 2024.

Laos aims to attract over 2.7 million tourists in 2024, as it has been declared the “Year of Tourism“, to help the industry with post-pandemic recovery.