Laos Music and Arts


Laos has many attractions; the natural environment, culture and history. Music and the arts make an important contribution of life as well and those who book Laos travel packages are likely to see and hear traditional performances. They have developed over many centuries and there is determination that such things will continue to live on.

The Laos royal court was the venue for dance and drama. During the time of Lan Xang there were female dancers from Angkor in what is now Cambodia. Classical music and dance continued to provide great entertainment and over the years its performance has spread to society in general. Good Laos travel operators can certainly arrange of tourists enjoying Laos tour packages to enjoy a performance during their time in the Country.

•    Kon typifies the best of Laos dance and drama. There are troupes of performers, male and female. Costumes are colourful and every performer has a role within the drama with the chorus acting as narrator.
•    Lakhone dance was exclusively for females but there are occasional male performers as well.

There are many folk dances which reflect the number of small ethnic groups that are included within national boundaries. The most popular folk dance is the Lam Vong, the national dance of Laos which exists wherever the Lao language is spoken, including places outside Laos. Weddings and other special events and celebrations are certain to include Lam Vong.

There are troupes of travelling performers while there are regional differences in the music performed. There is a wide range of instruments; percussion, fiddles, lutes, xylophones and oboes are common inclusions and topics vary from religion to romance. There is also often an element of comedy.

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The Khene is Laos’ most identifiable instrument. Every house will have one, made from bamboo cut in varying lengths, similar to instruments found far away in the Andes of South America. Folk music in Laos inevitably involves the khene. In the 19th Century Lao folk music grew in popularity in Siam though that popularity waned for two reasons over the coming decades:

•    The arrival of the French in Indochina.
•    The concern that Siamese culture might disappear.

Laos classical music is similar in many ways to that of Thailand. That is hardly surprising given the close contact across the region over centuries. There is little doubt that Khmer music has been preserved well in Laos, the best remaining example of the music of that Empire. There are also elements which originate in India.

All tourists to Laos are eager to learn more about the country. A holiday in Laos introduces first time visitors to a wealth of different experiences and music and dance are part of that experience. The Royal Lao Orchestra fled the country when the monarch abdicated and actually has a base in the USA. That does not mean that travellers will not be able to hear music that has existed for centuries in what is now the independent country of Laos. It’s history and culture are worth preserving.