Dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang is a great place to begin a Southeast Asia vacation. An independent non-profit museum, the organization seeks to acquaint visitors with a better understanding of the ethnic groups that inhabit the region. Situated at the foot of Mt Phosui, the heritage building features long standing exhibitions documenting traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts used by tribes including the Hmong, Akha, Tai Dam and Kmhmu. Laos is home to 49 ethnicities consisting of over 160 ethnic groups, making it something of cultural hodgepodge.
For those who are interested in learning more about the cultural heritage and fascinating history of Lao PDR, the Traditional arts and Ethnology Centre is definitely the place to start! As well as this, the on site ‘Le Patio Café is well worth a visit. The French-style café features ceiling fans, comfortable wicker chairs and WiFi, amid a wonderful mountainous backdrop. Serving up delectable dishes that include local delights and a selection of baked goods, it is not unusual to find the local expats popping in for a coffee while enjoy the relaxed surrounds.
While this meditative backwater is often praised for its temples and UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the people play a large part in what one might describe as being the laid back mentality and inherent charm of the country. Visiting the sustainably motivated Traditional Arts and Ethnology centre prior to doing a homestay or trek will no doubt enhance the experience. This is also a great place to pick up some unique and skillful handicrafts, art, textiles and jewelry.