Even though external influences have brought change to Laos traditions prevail particularly on special occasions. That is reflected in clothes. While in urban areas western style clothing is seen regularly during the working day Lao people have certainly held on to the colourful clothing that they take out whenever there is something to celebrate.
There are many special occasions throughout the year so visitors on Laos tour packages often have a chance to see all the wonderful colour whatever time of the year they visit.
Women, as the ‘’mothers of the nation’’ are expected to dress well; it is a national tradition. Typical clothes will be a scarf, blouse and silk skirt (phaa sin) and well kempt hair if they are in attendance at an event. The phaa sin is probably the most important item of female clothing. It is likely to be very intricate with lovely embroidery. Different events bring our different motifs and designs.There is plenty of detail in the hem and the main part of the skirt is in two bright colours.
• Suea pat is the traditional shirt with long sleeves and no buttons. It has two panels with one wrapping over the other and secured with string.
• Pha Biang is a garment that appears like a shawl; it is worn by both sexes.
Men wear fairly loose fitting pants, shirt and knee-length socks on special occasions.
Weaving is a traditional skill among Laos women, handed down from mother to daughter. Those skills are clear in the clothes that come out on special occasions. Women use an upright standing loom, grow their own silkworms and make yarn. They then spend many hours over their creations.
While the majority of the Laos population live in the lowland south, there are diverse hill tribes which have their own individual costumes. The Hmong are a people that live in the mountains as well as across the border in Vietnam and China. The Black Hmong have dyed hemp clothing, deep indigo, which comprises a jacket, sash, apron and wraps for the legs. The sleeves of the jacket are embroidered. In contrast the Flower Hmong wear particularly colourful things; all trims are often beaded and wraps regularly involve tartan.
Many of the hill tribes have their own versions of the sarong with blouses flared at the waist. Sequins, coins and embroidery decorate the clothes and tourists on a Laos holiday are certain to enjoy any occasion when such clothes are being worn.
Such colourful clothing makes great souvenirs and gifts for friends and family at home. It is so different and though perhaps not for regular wear a way to dress up for a domestic party? All good Laos tour operators will try to put together an itinerary allowing their guests to get a comprehensive experience in Laos and that includes meeting people in both urban and rural settings. Laos travel packages are available all year round and depending on when you visit you will see locals suitably dressed for the occasion.