When to go Laos

I. WEATHER

The best time for visiting Laos is from November to February since the weather is beautiful and dry with cool nights and April for special New Year festival.
Laos shares the monsoonal climate with other countries in Southeast Asia and there are two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The rainy season normally starts from May and ends by October. It is still hot and short rainfall in early months of the season, while in later months (late July – October), the rains are frequent and can be heavy at times, especially in southern parts. Rainfall tends to be lighter in further north and is expected to appear during the night or mornings. It is followed by a dry and cool season from November to mid-February with beautiful temperatures and low precipitation but can approach freezing temperatures at night in mountainous areas. The degree heats up between March and May and the temperatures can get peak of 38-40°C, except for the mountainous regions in the north which still experience cooler temperatures during this time.

II. FESTIVALS

The timing of festivals in Laos is calculated basing on Buddhist lunar calendar and will be different each year. Therefore, you are advised to check the latest information before your visiting.

Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) – April

Lao New Year is the biggest and most famous festivals to celebrate the beginning of Laos Lunar New Year and last for 3 days in mid-April. People clean house, wear new clothes and pours Buddha statues by scented water in the first day.  In the second day, they go outside to take part in watering festival with friends and ready to welcome new year officially visit on 3rd day.
The religious aspects of the festival are most apparent in Luang Prabang, where Buddha statues are worshiped with water pouring ceremonies and the most colorful parade is occurred with the traditional Lao costumes, music and dance. This celebration makes one of the best time to visit Laos.

Boun Bangfai or Rocket Festival – May/June

This festival is a call for rain and prays God for a good harvest without drought, floods or pests. It normally take 2-3 days and including music and dance, boat riding competition and come to a climax on the third day with competition of home-made rockets  in an outskirts area to avoid destroy property and keep participants safe. Men camouflaged as ladies, perform vaudeville acts with wooden phalli to fill God with anger. To reply this request, the God will send rain and storms to revenge.

Boun Khao Phansa – July

The festival is celebrated for beginning of Buddhist Lent which lasts from full moon of July until full moon of October and during this period, Buddhist monks are not permitted to travel but keep stay in temple to study Buddha’s teaching. In the morning of the festival day, people prepare food and daily necessities to donate for monks. In the afternoon, the monks will recount the teachings of Buddha and talk to goers about history of Lent. In the late evening, all will go around the central temple three times with blooms and candles

Boat Racing Festival – September/October

This festival is held in each province around the country, take place mostly during weekends in September or October but before Buddhist Lent ends. The race begins in the morning and each pair of 2 boats competes until the winner is identified. It is a big festival for local so it attracts thousands of people on the river bank to cheer for participants.

Boun Ok Phansa – October

This festival marks the ending of 3-month Buddhist Lent. On the first day, people offer donations at temples in cities in daylight. In the evening, candlelight processions are taken place around the temples. At the same time, hundreds of colorful paper boats with blossom and candles are situated adrift the Mekong River. On the next day, the biggest event of boat racing is held on the Mekong River in Vientiane Capital.

Boun That Luang Festival and Trade Fair – November  

This religious celebration is held at full moon in November. The venue is in and around That Luang stupa – the Laos national symbol located in Vientiane capital. It is a three-day religious celebration celebrated at full moon in November. The 3-day festival begins with the wax parade at Wat Si Meuang  and end with a parade around the stupa.

Hmong New Year – December

The festival plays a deeply cultural significance in the Hmong community This festival lasts for around 10 days and takes place in Vientiane, Oudomxay, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang where large Hmong communities exist. During the New Year's celebration, Hmong dress in traditional colorful clothing made from green, red and white silk and enjoy Hmong traditional entertainments like traditional dance, music.

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