Fill the knowledge gap between reading about Laos and experiencing it with a trip to a museum. Step into the past and ponder the relics of yesteryear. You’ll learn and see Lao history and culture in a way no writer can describe. Provincial museums profile their distinctive histories and traditions. Special interest museums introduce you to dinosaurs and the police. Enhance your authentic Lao experience with a trip to a museum.
Step into the Lane Xang Kingdom at its first capital, Luang Prabang, where King Sisavangvong’s palace serves as the National Museum. The rooms retain royal furnishings, and the garage displays classic cars owned by the royal family. On a nearby hill, climb into Lao culture at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC), with interpretive displays exhibiting the county’s diverse ethnic population.
In the country’s northwest, the Luang Namtha Museum presents ancient Buddha images, hand-crafted weapons, bronze drums, and indigenous clothing. Down the road in Muang Sing, the one-time residence of Prince Chao Fa exhibits local culture, religion, and history. On top of Phou Sebey Hill in Oudomxay, you’ll find an old French Army camp that now serves as the provincial museum.
When visiting Xieng Khouang and the Plain of Jars, venture to the Tai Dam Cultural Hall in Ban Naxi, or stop at the Mines Action Group’s (MAG) Centre in Phonsavanh Town for an in-depth history into the intense US bombing campaign. In the country’s far north, Phongsaly presents the Tea Pavilion, offering an insight into the province’s tea history. The Phongsaly Ethnic Museum displays the province and its people, their origin, and way of life. For those peeking into Xaysomboun, stop at King Sisavang Watthana vacation home, which the government renovated into a museum.
Enjoy an array of specialty museums in Vientiane Capital. Start at the Lao National Museum, housing some 8,000 artefacts including archaeological, ethnological, and historical displays. Stop at the COPE Visitor Centre and Museum, with its thought-provoking UXO exhibition of stories from survivors, interactive displays, documentaries, and information on its services.
Just past That Luang, the Lao People’s Army History Museum is a must-see for military buffs. You’ll find an exhibition of troop vehicles and war planes, a war documentary, and detailed accounts of battles. Not far away, the Souphanouvong Museum is dedicated to the one-time Lao prince and president of the country. Near the new National Convention Centre, visit the Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Museum with a photo exhibition of the nation’s revolutionary leader.
In Khammouane Province’s Thakaek Town, check out the Cultural Village at That Sikhottabong, where nine different ethnic groups present a living museum with traditional houses displaying their lifestyles. In Savannakhet Town, you can explore the province’s natural, ethnological, historical, and revolutionary artefacts at the provincial museum. And don’t miss the Dinosaur Museum’s displays of Savannakhet’s pre-history including dinosaur bones, fossils, and meteorite fragments. Outside of town on the Champone Circuit, inspect Hotay Pidok Library’s collection of palm leaf books written in ancient Lao, Burmese, Pali, and Khmer.
Champasak wears Southern Laos’ Museum crown, with Vat Phou Museum as its sparkling gem. The museum introduces you to a collection of relics and sculptures that explain the pre-Angkor ruins. In the 4,000 Islands, take a tour of the Don Khong District Museum, and inspect displays of the area’s history in a colonial structure, built to house the governor. In Salavan Province, step through a gate made of bombs to enter the UXO Lao Centre and examine land mines, miniature rockets, and homemade devices with origami birds used as fuses.
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