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Reveal the Best secret kept in Southeast Asia: Laos

Southeast Asia hides a lot of mysterious stories, and this is the main reason makes millions traveler from all over the world keep throwing themselves into this land. To passionate explorers, Laos seems to be Asia’s best-kept secret and the few who go only have the best vacation stories to tell.

If you have known the truth behind Angkor Wat, been familiar with Thailand and tasted the unique culture of Vietnam, this time you may take a look at the hidden treasure Laos. We’ll let you in on a few tidbits as to why Laos is the place to be.

History

Laos is mysterious. Even with its history. With history buffs, Laos is such a diamond as so much of the history of Laos is unknown. The earliest remains of civilization can be found in Xiang Khouang (also known as Phonsavan), where the Plains of Jars are located. Not even the world’s top archaeologists know why these giant jars are scattered all over the field, but it does provide fodder for adventure.

Even the earliest document which describes the Lao people is shrouded in mystery. Called “The Laws of Khun Borom,” this document, which is a poem, tells a folktale of how the people of Laos came out from two magical gourds. Locals regard it as a myth while European scholars consider this to be part of its history.

Occupied by the Thai (then Siamese) people in 1779. Laos was then colonized by the French, making up a large part of French Indochina. Elderly Laotians also speak French.

During World War II, the Japanese occupied Laos, but it was later reclaimed by the French. However, the Laotians fought for their freedom and gained independence on 19 July 1949.

Ironically, Laos only became a republic on 2 December 1975. Its constitution was drafted 14 August 1991.

Geography

Laos is the only land-locked country in Southeast Asia, so you may not expect any beach time or seafood meal here.

As much as 80% of its people are farmers and depend on the Mekong river for their livelihoods. It’s also called Mae Nam Kong, which means, “Mother of All Rivers.”

Naturally, most of its population lives nearby the river, and only 10% of its population live below 182 meters or 600 feet.

The highest point in Laos is Phou Bia, which is about 2,817m, while the lowest point is the Mekong rivers, which is 70m in elevation.

Laos is also home to Khone Phapheng, which is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia.

Culture

The religion of the earliest Laotian settlers is not known, but Theravada Buddhism was adopted by many Laotians in the 7th-8th century, CE.

Laotian culture is also heavily influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, brought over by traders.

The Lao New Year, also known as Buon Pi Mai, is similar to the Songkran festival of Thailand, where buckets of water are thrown at people in the street. It’s celebrated from April 13-15. Many Laotian festivals are related to Buddhism.

A popular Laotian sport is Kataw, which is similar to Sepak Takraw in Malaysia. Players use their feet to kick a ball of woven bamboo above a net.