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SMU Libraries

Understanding LAOS: Culture, Sports and Cuisines

This guide provides useful information and links to resources on Laos.

At A Glance


The following information have been carefully selected for your reference. Some resources may have bias perspectives. Please approach the SMU Libraries ( ) should you have any doubts or need clarifications.


These videos show the Laos culture, belief, values, norms, and traditions.

Local Culture

Popular Sports

Football (Soccer), Sepak Takraw, Muay Lao.

Their national sport is Muay Lao that has close resemblance to Thailand's Muay Thai, Malaysia's Tomoi, Burmese Lethwei, and Cambodian Pradal Serey.

Laos Culture Beauty

This student share about how he admires Laotian culture and local people.

Phabath Phonsan, an old temple with a beautiful sacred stupa, attracts people daily to pray with its ancient story. This video explains the temple has long been the centre of faith and solidarity for Buddhists and local people, as well as for culture, art and architecture.


Khao Soi

Laos version differs from the one famous in Thailand in that they make it without using gati (coconut milk). Instead of the creamy, slightly sour Northern Thai version, the minced pork is slow cooked for hours, traditionally over a charcoal fire, the chef turning the meat while mixing in roasted chilis and chili oil as well as herbs that have been crushed using a mortar and pestle.

TAM MAK HOONG – Laos Green Papaya Salad

Tam is literally the staple of the Laotian diet. Made with a variety of fruits, the most common way to have it is with wonderfully crispy shredded green (unripe) papaya. Each ingredient is either pounded, sliced, or shredded, but they are all raw, and go one by one into a massive pestle. The pounding of the mortar, the ‘Tam’ action, is what gives this dish its name.

Khao Piak Sen

It’s not really the official breakfast of Vientiane, but it’s so popular that it seems like it. Every morning on the way to work, you’ll pass by many shops, sidewalk stalls, or carts serving up Khao Piak. You’ll see that all of bowl to prepare for the work day ahead.
Khao Piak comes in two main styles of broth. A pork or chicken broth. It’s served with a sticky white noodle that comes in regular or thick size.

Khao Jee Pa-Tay (banh mee)

This sandwich clearly displays Laos’ own food heritage blending with that of its French colonial past. The sandwich maker spreads on a thick layer of pate – rich livery flavor, bit also a sticky surface for all the veggies to grab onto. Next comes the strips of pork sausage, spears of cucumbers, whole green onions, carrots and pickled turnips, and then usually some pork floss. The final touch is complete with a few end-to-end layers of sweet and spicy red sauce.

Or Lam (Lao Stew)

Original to Luang Prabang, this tasty stew comprises mainly vegetables. Beans, eggplant, lemongrass, basil, chilies, woodear mushrooms, cilantro, green onion and locally grown vine called ‘sa kaan’ go into the dish, with optional meat (classically prepared water buffalo meat).

Sai Oo-ah

What truly makes Sai Oo-ah stand out from any other sausage around the world, is the massive herb quantity. Eat this hot, directly from the grill, and get another two or three in a to-go banana leaf packet. The perfect sausage balance of firm, springy, and juicy – the taste available in a single bite is astounding.

Conversation of Laos Traditional Culture

Listen to a local teacher who dedicated all of his time to creating his handmade art from the love of conserving the traditional Lao Khon performance and preserving Lao culture in general.

This video is produced by a group of National University of Singapore (NUS) students. This film was a product of a two-week long field trip in Lao PDR studying the peoples and cultures. It shows the wearing culture, especially traditional clothing in Laos.

Additional Resources


This student shares his experiences of the differences and similarities between Lao food and Thai food.

5th of February is an auspicious day where women prepare a traditional rice cake recipe in order to celebrate the New Year. They prepare special cakes and rice liqueur dye in red, green and yellow. Every home prepares this three-coloured rice, which will be offered to the ancestors.

Another important element in the Ekor culture is the ornaments they wear on their traditional costumes, which both men and women use every day.

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy