Bolikhamxay Ethnic Diversity
The Lao Tai live in the Mekong River valley, having migrated from China, and they tend to farm rice and fish. They also grow coco palms and various fruits, and raise cattle, buffaloes, poultry, pigs, and goats. The Lao Tai excel at weaving, basket making, wood carving, and working with silver and gold. Their houses are typically built of wood or bamboo and are on stilts. Most practice Buddhism, and villages tend to have a temple, though many Lao Tai still believe in spirits.
The Khmu migrated to Laos thousands of years ago, and several settled in Bolikhamxay. They rely on the forest for growing rice, hunting and gathering, and producing woven rattan and bamboo basketry, tools, and net-bags. When visiting a Khmu village, taste their famous lao hai (jar alcohol). They practice animism and spirit worship.
The Hmong in Bolikhamxay mostly live in the mountains, and are skilled at hunting, mixing herbal medicines, and raising animals, particularly pigs and goats. Intricate embroidery and heavy silver jewellery adorn their clothes, and some villages create batik designs using beeswax and indigo dyes.
A few Tai Daeng villages can be found in the mountains near Vietnam, having migrated from China. You can visit the Tai Daeng in Ban Nong Or near Lak Xao. They specialise in silk weaving, and visitors can see the entire process from boiling cocoons to working a vertical loom. Aside from weaving, the labour division tends to be equal between men and women, with both engaged in ploughing, rice farming, fishing, cooking, caring for babies, and cleaning. Many Tai Daeng combine animism with Buddhism, and villages usually have a temple.
Little is known about the few ethnic Meui in Laos, though they are adept in creating all types of handicrafts. You can visit the Meui in Bolikhamxay at Ban Yang Kheua, which offers a lodge for overnight stays along the Yong River.