The sun is incredibly hot in Laos. When you’re ready to take a break from its rays, duck into one of these museums to learn about Laos’ natural history, ethnic minorities, politics, textiles, and many more.
Savannakhet is very proud of the dinosaur fossils that have been found in the province. See (and touch!) fossilised remains of dinosaurs and learn about the excavation process in this small but informative museum located in the Provincial Science, Technology and Environment Office.
The COPE Center helps Lao citizens with disabilities obtain prosthetics and do physical therapy to regain mobility. The visitors’ centre has an in-depth display on the horrors of cluster munitions and the damage bombings have caused and continue to cause in Laos. Watch documentaries on UXO removal then see photos and read stories about some of the patients COPE has helped.
The former Royal Palace in Luang Prabang is now a spectacular museum. Check out the mosaics in the throne room, and the former king’s luxury car collection. On the premises is the Haw Pha Bang, built to house the golden Pha Bang buddha statue, which gave Luang Prabang its name.
The Lao National Museum is moving from its former building across from the Lao Culture Hall to a new building 3 miles (5 km) from the city centre. The collection spans prehistoric tools and pottery to ethnic clothing and household goods. A large collection of party memorabilia and modern Lao history is also housed here.
A little ways away from down town, the Laos Textile Museum in Vientiane is a family-run museum and shop. Weaving has been part of the family for generations and they are happy to share the history of cultivating silk, natural dyes like indigo, and weaving silk into textiles with guests.
Right on the bank of the Mekong, Luang Prabang’s Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Center teaches visitors all about Lao textiles. Take a free guided tour and see the silkworms and meet the weavers. Try your hand at a batik or weaving workshop. Stay for a meal or a drink at Silk Road Cafe on the premises.
Kaysone Phomvihane was the leader of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and served as the prime minister and then president of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. This museum in Vientiane was opened in 1995 to honour the late Phomvihane’s 75th birthday and houses memorabilia of the man as well as the history of the party.
Hike up a tall set of stairs to Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. Take a guided tour or wander around on your own to discover the intricate and beautiful crafts of the Tai Lue, Akha, Hmong and Kmhmu ethnic minorities in Laos. Other exhibits feature works from other parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. Check out the gift shop and support artisans from around Laos who sell their work at the TAEC.
Vientiane’s National Institute of Fine Arts contains the works of present and former student artists studying painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Patrons can peruse the large paintings displayed in the hall, check out the sculpture gallery, and purchase original artwork to take home as a souvenir.
If you’re in Luang Namtha to trek in the Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area, spend a day in town and check out the Provincial Museum. You’ll learn about local people, see traditional costumes, weaponry, pottery, household goods and religious artefacts.