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Welcome to Laos

Khiri Travel Laos specializes in crafting personalized experiences for travelers who want learn and engage with the local culture. Being blessed with a stunning natural biodiversity – more than 70 percent of which is forest cover – charming heritage towns and a very relaxed mentality, Laos is the perfect place to shift down a gear and enjoy life at a slower pace. Also known as the ‘Land of a Million Elephants’, Laos is a melting pot of different ethnic minorities, many of which have been settled in the region for centuries – making this mountainous country a perfect destination for explorers and adventure seekers.

We take pride in accommodating our clients’ special interests into each trip we plan and ensuring that our local guides are building bridges with local communities to create authentic encounters for all our clients. Having a small but highly experienced team, we make sure that all clients feel at home and perfectly taken care of while traveling with us. With offices in three different locations, we are always there for our clients and ready to provide advice with our in-depth local knowledge. In addition, we are dedicated to supporting local communities and organisations that strive to develop the living standards of their people. These efforts range from environmental conservation to social initiatives, and encouraging small businesses – all of which have been recognized by Travelife, an organization that sets international standards in sustainable tourism.

John Black - Country Manager of Khiri Travel Laos

John Black

General Manager

Insider Experiences

Different Facets of Vang Vieng
A day with the locals, with home cooked lunch, kayaking, and tasting rice wine in the middle
of rice fields.
One Fine Evening in Luang Prabang
An evening on the Mekong riverbank, playing petanque and listening to ancient Lao fairytales accompanied by a traditional instrument.
Luang Prabang Home Cooking Adventure
Take a ferry across the Mekong River for a fascinating cooking class in the home of a local family.

What Khiri Has Done In
Laos

At Khiri Travel Laos we strive to involve local people and their communities wherever possible by building bridges between local cultures and our clients. Through our tourism initiatives with NGOs and responsible stakeholders, we spread the tourism dollar, helping families and young people in rural areas to set up sustainable tourism programs that have a positive impact on their lives.

Laos Office

“The trip was an absolute dream!! Our guides were all warm and wonderful people who bore and responded to our numerous questions creating an experience to enjoy ourselves and learn.”

– Pam | Netherlands

LAOS WEATHER

When to Go and What to Do
in Laos

JAN
FEB
MAR
APR
MAY
JUN
JUL
AUG
SEP
OCT
NOV
DEC

January

Boun Khoun Khao

Boun Khoun Khao or the Rice Festival is one of the most important events for the Lao people. “Khoun” means “getting more”, and “Khao” means “rice”. So “Boun Khoun Khao” is held for receiving more rice in the next year.

Agriculture plays a critical role with the Lao people, and the ceremony takes place to give thanks to the spirit of the land and ensure the next harvest will be successful. The event takes place around the capital of Vientiane.

In this event, visitors will have the opportunity to witness villagers dress up in their traditional costumes and farmers bringing sheaves of rice to the temple and Buddhist pagodas. The sacred ceremony of the event is carried out by a senior in the village who will tie a white cotton string around others’ wrists while praying for their success and happiness.

Then, the festival ends with eating food and drinking rich alcohol to express gratitude to nature and the Mekong River for giving them abundant crops.

February

March

Boun Pha Vet

Boun Pha Vet is a religious event lasting three days and three nights. This religious festival celebrates Buddha’s previous incarnation before being born as Prince Siddhartha.

The monks take turns to read about the story life of King Phavet. He ruled over his father’s kingdom as a benevolent monarch and gave away all his possessions except for a single elephant. When one of his villages, Gadinkha, suffered from a drought. The starving citizens asked King Phavet for help, and he bestowed upon them his sole possession, the elephant. However, it didn’t solve the problem, and the villagers were angry as the symbolic gesture appeared unhelpful and complained to Phavet’s father. This upset the old king, who banished Phavet, his wife Madthii, and their children to the forest.

In their banishment, a group of strangers crossed paths with Phavet, and they asked Phavet to give them his wife, Madthii. He agreed and handed her and their two children over. A few months later, rains started falling on Gadinkha, and the villagers began growing rice and vegetables again. They eventually realized Phavet’s elephant had brought them luck, so they brought the animal to the old king and told him the news. This heartened him, who summoned Phavet to return and retake the throne. After his death, Phavet was reincarnated, married, and had a son. However, he divorced his wife and became a monk, eventually attaining enlightenment.

April

Lao New Year (Bun Pi Mai)

Lao New Year celebration, or Lao Pi Mai, is one of the most important and largest celebrations of the year. It is celebrated in mid-April before the start of the rainy season. Celebrations last for three days to commemorate the importance of water in people’s lives. During this time, the whole country shuts down to worship and celebrate.

The celebration is also a purification festival. Buddhist images in the household and the temples are ritually cleaned with sacred water during the Lao New Year. At the temples, locals wash the Buddha statue, which, in turn, evolves into a water fight, or “water throwing,” as the water that comes from the Buddha washing is considered good luck to wash away any past misdeeds. The constant drenching is a great relief from the heat this time of year, as April tends to be the hottest month in Laos.

The best place to experience the country’s New Year event is in Luang Prabang. The Luang Prabang festivities include a procession, a fair, a sand-castle competition on the Mekong, a Miss New Year pageant, folk performances, and cultural shows. Many take to the streets with water guns or buckets and pans, creating an enormous neighborhood water-fight that is impossible not to partake.

Throughout the three days of the festival, many meaningful and joyful activities are held nationwide, such as Soo Kwan (tying cotton strings around people’s wrists), water splashing, sand stupa building, and a beauty pageant.

Make sure you’re booked and confirmed in hotels before you go, as there will be a lot of full hotels.

May

Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai)

This is ancient rainmaking and fertility festival, held in mid-May just before the start of the rainy season. The festival involves villagers launching huge homemade rockets that are fired into the air to prompt the spirits to end the dry season and create rain for the upcoming rice-growing season. During the event, there are a variety of fun activities for a wild and happy ceremony, with traditional music, dancing, performances, and processions, all culminating in the firing of rockets.

Traditionally,  these rockets are made by stuffing gunpowder into elaborately decorated bamboo. But today, many different materials are used, including glass or metal piping. When ready, the rockets are carried to a communal launch pad. There are numerous types, each serving an individual purpose.

On the day of the festival, the Boun Bang Fai becomes a fiercely contested competition, in which bamboo rockets are generally only allowed to enter. First, each rocket is inspected and categorized. Scores are given for the highest flyer, the most beautiful decoration, and the most entertaining team, a category in which just about anything goes, from elaborate masks to men wearing women’s clothes while women dance and sing. If any rockets fail to explode, the team’s technician and leader are forced to drink muddy water or Satho (rice whisky).

The rocket competition is held in order to demonstrate appreciation to “Payathaen” (the god of the sky), who provides people with the rains necessary for agriculture. Throughout the celebrations, hosts prepare a variety of traditional food for their guests.

These rocket festivals can be found throughout Laos but are usually located in small villages on the outskirts of towns. However, Vang Vieng holds the largest rocket festival on the banks of the Nam Song River.

June

Children’s Day

Children’s Day is a special day for children in Laos. The country celebrates this event on the 1st of June every year to raise awareness and recognize the need to protect children’s rights and ensure they grow into happy and healthy adults. There are many non-profit organizations and charities that contribute to this event by creating a meaningful project for children from entertaining to educational, providing them a fulfilling life physically, mentally, and emotionally.

You can get involved in all of this project by donating or participating as a volunteer. This is an excellent opportunity for you to contribute back to the community, and indeed this will be one of many experiences that you won’t forget.

If you are traveling with children, they will no doubt enjoy the activities, parades, and events.

July

Boun Khao Phansa

The event is held on the full moon, Boun Khao Phansa, and marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent as well as the start of the rainy season in Laos. It also signals the three-month period of Buddhist Lent where monks remain within their temple and spend most of their time praying and meditating. During this period, many people take this time to abstain from alcohol. It is also one of the best times to enter monkhood.
To support this gesture, in the early morning of Boun Khao Phansa, Buddhist worshippers gather in the temple and prepare donations of food, flowers, incense, candles, and necessities like soap, toothpaste, towels for the monks.

Most temples are busy during this time, with people making merit and giving their donations. At the end of these merit-making activities, the monks will recite the teachings of Buddha and tell the history of the Buddhist Lent to temple-goers.

August

September

Boun Khao Salak

This festival occurs during the 10th full moon on the lunar calendar, right around September. The purpose of the festival is to obtain merit and a remember of the death. During this celebration, the Lao people head to their local temple early in the morning to give offerings to the monks on behalf of their deceased ancestors.

A basket is filled with food and daily necessities such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, and much more. In the basket, the names of the dead that the families wish to honor are written on a piece of paper called a “Salak”. The gift basket and salak are then passed on to a monk who reads the person’s name aloud, thereby transferring the gifts into the afterlife.

In the evening, from 7 pm to 8 pm, it is the candlelight procession (Wien Tien). Afterward, the candles, incense, the flowers are placed near the side of the Sim.

In Vientiane, try visiting Wat Ong Teu to experience Boun Haw Khao Salak.

October

Boun Ork Phansa (End of Buddhist Lent) and Lai Heua Fai (Festival of Light)

Boun Ork Phansa signals the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent. This festival falls on the last full moon of the rainy season. On this day, monks can leave their respective temples.

The Boun Ork Phansa festival typically begins with local people heading to the temple to participate in the early morning ceremonies, where they donate food to the monks.

In the evening, people gather in the candlelight processions that are held around the temples. Hundreds would release colorful banana-leaf boats decorated with flowers, incense, and candles are set to drift down the river for a ceremony known as Lai Heau Fai or the Festival of Lights (Similar to Loy Kratong in Thailand). This beautiful ceremony of setting these little banana-leaf boats free on the river is the act of paying respect and honor to the Buddha, giving thanks to the naga spirit, and sending away any illness and bad luck. People who live far from the rivers simply light up some candles in front of their houses and do their prayers, wishing for good luck. Lao people have carried on this colorful tradition for thousands of years.

Riverside cities like Vientiane, Savannakhet, Pakse, and Luang Prabang celebrate the day with Bun Nam boat races along the Mekong. Thousands of people gather to take part in the merriment, complete with food stalls and sideshows. In the evening, spectators gather along the Mekong River to watch the mythical water dragon, Naga, spit-up red fireballs. While some believe the folklore and some do not, everyone uses this time to relax on the banks as they wait to view the phenomenon. It makes for a truly breathtaking scene.

November

That Luang Festival

On Bun That Luang, hundreds of monks from all around the country gather each year at the stupa in Vientiane for the most prominent Buddhist festival in Lao to accept gifts and alms from devoted townsfolk. This festivaled is held over three to seven days during the full moon of the twenty-fifth lunar month.

The Pha That Luang temple comes alive with an international trade fair, showcasing tourism in Laos, as well as contests, and music, topped off with a Wien Thien, or candlelight procession. People carry flowers, candles, incense, and wax castles decorated with flowers and banknotes. They wear their best clothes for this procession, and there is also a parade of the men and women dressed in various Laotian ethnic costumes who dance and play traditional music and songs while approaching the stupa. At night, there is a grand firework display to mark the end of the celebration.

December

Laos National Day