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Pi Mai or Songkran—Lao New Year & Water Festival 2023

No fireworks or fancy family dinners, but rather a​ temple worship, splashing water, and street food

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Pi Mai Lao or Songkran is Lao New Year, also known as Laos Water Festival. Laos New Year is very different from what most people are accustomed to. The celebrations unite spiritual rituals with loud street parties.

New Year's celebration lasts for three days around mid-April. The dates may slightly vary each year. The first day is one of cleansing when all houses and temples are cleaned and repainted. During this time young people pour water on the hands of the elders and ask for a blessing. Hence comes one of its names—Laos Water Festival. Many families also head to Buddhist temples to pray.

The second day is for relaxation, and the third day is the real celebration usually accompanied by eating street food. Every region has its ​unique customs but Luang Prabang has particularly rich celebrations. People come to see sand stupas on the banks of the Mekong river, the Prabang procession, beauty contests, and authentic music and dance concerts. Another popular location to experience this celebration is the Lao capital—Vientiane.

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