It's essential that you know your way around the house, which is why we've compiled this list of room names in Lao. Don't wander into the bathroom--hong nam-- ຫ້ອງນ້ຳ when you're looking for the kitchen--heuonkhua-- ເຮືອນຄົວ
We're also going to take a look at the architecture of Lao houses and where you could consider staying if you go to the cultural capital Luang Prabang.
|Dining Room||hong kin khao||ຫ້ອງກິນເຂົ້າ|
|Living room||hong hab aekhk||ຫ້ອງຮັບແຂກ|
|Game room||hong kem||ຫ້ອງເກມ|
Lao architecture is complicated because the country's history is complicated, being colonized by Thailand, France(and some would argue now China).
The most widely recognizable buildings are Buddhist temples called Wats. Wats are fascinating buildings with rich symbolic life. They have steep tiled roofs, and inside are often decorated with elaborate mosaics depicting the Buddha's life.
The stupa is arguably the most impressive part of any temple complex and is akin to an Egyptian pyramid, albeit not quite pyramid-shaped. Lao stupas are more typically shaped to resemble the unfurling of a lotus bud, with the spire on top. The most spectacular is That Luang, the Great Sacred Stupa, in Vientiane. Many of these stupas contain supposed relics-- parts of the cremated Buddha's body.
Traditional Lao houses are nowhere near as grand as this, particularly in the countryside. Because of the monsoon climate, the houses are built on stilts and are usually made of wood. This provides the double added benefit of keeping the water out and somewhere to shelter from the sun in the dry season.
Ironically, the best example of traditional Lao architecture is to go and see some of the tribal villages where there are communities of Hmong and Iu Mien who still live and build in the same way. Popular material is woven split bamboo or sawn wood. The roof might have been constructed of grass thatch or corrugated iron sheets more recently.
Many of these houses also had extra spaces for animals. Even now, if you travel through more rural parts of Lao, you will see cows and chickens scrambling through house entrances.
In terms of the housing interior, there are usually one or two bedrooms, a sitting room, and a kitchen. Often families eat sitting on the floor with a rattan table above them.
Luang Prabang is an interesting place to talk about because it was the royal capital and vaunted by French colonial officials. Its architecture is a blend of traditional Lao, Traditional French, Lao copying France, and France copying Lao.
N.B. It is interesting to note that although Laos is a former territorial possession of France, there doesn't seem to be any hard feelings. On the contrary, most regular citizens seem more concerned with Chinese expansion into tourist areas. No better was this exemplified than by a girl I saw in Vientiane selling sandwiches while wearing a t-shirt saying, 'Am I French yet?'
This Unesco protected hotel was formerly the French governor's residence. Located in Ban Mano, an upmarket district 5 minutes outside the city center, they embrace that feeling of Luang Prabang being a kind of magical jungle hideaway. On the website, the hotel is labeled as 'the refuge of the last dreamers.' It is owned by Sofitel but has the feel of an independently owned place because of its uniqueness.
Don't worry. You get more than just an ironing board here. Of course, it is designed to look like an old colonial outpost, but it has all modern features, including complimentary wireless Internet access, air conditioning, and a private pool.
The hotel also has meeting rooms and markets itself as a total event space. Although there isn't access to Wattay Airport(that's the international airport in Vientiane), it is still great for hosting meetings domestically.
As the name suggests, this is another traditional hotel overlooking the river with A-class guest rooms. Notably, the hotel was voted the world's most romantic hotel in 2016. It is easy to see why. There is nothing like being in Luang Prabang, at the river, with a mint julep in hand, watching the sun go down.
Another beautiful hotel is located near the river. This place used to belong to the former Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma, so you can only imagine how luxurious it is inside. Again the building is based on French colonial architecture with a sprinkling of traditional Lao motifs. It has the lowest price for a night than anywhere else at only $60.
Your flight is booked; you've been reading our Lao blog, now all you need is to get a solid grasp of the fundamentals of the language. That is where Ling comes in. We've developed an app designed to be consumed in 15-minute bite-size chunks.
This isn't the learning style you remember in school with a dusty old chalkboard and a sullen teacher. Our unique gamification elements mean you always want to come back for more. Personally, the thing I like about Ling is the leaderboard where you can judge yourself compared to others and bring out your competitive drive.
Traveling in Laos is a unique experience that I would highly recommend. People automatically relate it to Thailand, but it is much more than just a little brother. Many people I meet say it's their favorite place in South East Asia. Something is endearing and indomitable about the spirit of the Lao people.
Good luck and have a happy time learning Lao with Ling
Until the next time