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Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu

How far will you go to dive into ancient cultures?


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The major cities of Laos mostly adhere to Buddhism, meanwhile, villages and ethnic communities are good places to observe ancient pagan customs. Probably, the best place for this is home to the largest and one of the oldest minorities in Laos—the Khmu.

The Khmu count for more than half a million people and the majority live in Oudomxay Province in Northern Laos. This area is very mountainous, which makes infrastructure development rather difficult. Thus visiting Khmu in the rainy season may require good preparation and even some guidance from locals.

The Khmu are famous for many things. Their intricate bamboo and rattan baskets, which are woven only by men between June and August, can be found all around Laos. Some old Khmu people have their bodies fully tattooed and smoke tobacco from silver pipes.

Very intriguing are the animist traditions of Khmu, so be sure to find out as much as possible about them, so that you won't be too shocked with what you see. For example, buffalo sacrifice still occurs when a serious disease has to be cured.

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