Best time to visit Laos

Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu in Laos 2024

How far will you go to dive into ancient cultures?

Best time: June–August

Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu
Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu
Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu
Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu

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.

Practical info

When should one plan their visit to the Khmu in Laos?

It is advisable to visit the Khmu in Laos between June and August, as this is when the Khmu men weave beautiful bamboo and rattan baskets all around Laos, in addition to the celebration of many important festivals. This is an excellent opportunity to observe their unique customs and animist traditions. Show more

In which area of Laos can the Khmu people be found mostly?

The Khmu people are mostly found in the mountainous Oudomxay Province in Northern Laos. Infrastructure development might be challenging due to the region's mountainous terrain. Visitors should consider good preparation and even guidance from locals when visiting Khmu communities in the rainy season. Show more

What is the importance of the baskets woven by Khmu men using bamboo and rattan?

The intricate bamboo and rattan baskets woven by Khmu men are famous throughout Laos. These baskets, which can only be made from June to August, feature unique designs and are used for various purposes, including food storage, transportation, and decoration in the household. Show more

What are some of the Khmu traditions and customs, besides animism?

In addition to animism, the Khmu observe other unique customs and traditions. For instance, some elderly Khmu people tattoo their entire bodies and smoke tobacco via silver pipes. Furthermore, they have a traditional courtship ritual called 'khene,' where young men play authentic music for young women. The Khmu still use buffalo sacrifice to cure severe illnesses. Visitors must be prepared to understand and respect the customs and traditions of the Khmu. Show more

Is it possible for visitors to witness buffalo sacrifices in Khmu communities?

Witnessing buffalo sacrifices in Khmu communities is indeed possible for visitors; however, they must understand that the Khmu people consider observing such rituals as a matter of great importance. Visitors must show respect for this tradition. Those wanting to participate in these rituals should seek the local's permission and be prepared for a unique challenge. To understand Khmu customs and traditions better, visitors may require a guide or translator's assistance. Show more

Ask a question

Find hotels and airbnbs near Culture and Lifestyle of Khmu (Map)

Last updated: