• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

  • Tajikistan!

    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Architecture of Laos

Lao Architecture - Hmong homes
Hmong homes

Early Lao architecture is not original, but rather was built by the region's and people's foreign rulers. These influences came from Thailand and the city of Chiang Mai, from Cambodia in the Khmer Dynasty, and domestically from the Vientiane Dynasty, however this dynasty was related to and influenced by the Ayutthayas.

Despite these outside influences, little remains from early Lao architecture (both local and foreign influenced) since they build almost exclusively with wood and other materials that are highly susceptible to nature. Of the early monuments that do exist, most are made of brick, including the Buddhist stupa, That Luang (1586) in the capital of Vientiane. This and other buildings from the 1500s and 1600s are primarily Buddhist temples or monuments. Most of these early structures follow Thai models that can be found in Chiang Mai and Bangkok (or in the nearby city of Ayutthaya).

Over time the city of Vientiane gained its own style, most notably in the form of houses. The capital today is covered with these houses, which generally include a veranda and terrace. More interesting though is the wood carving often found on the top of the verandas, which are quite symbolic of Lao culture and religion.

Like the capital, the city of Luang Prabang developed its own style as well, which is similar to that of the capital, but the veranda roofs tend to dip lower. Their temples are also somewhat unique, although primarily in the northern Thai style, as they tend to be detailed in gold.

The final local style worthy of mention is the Xieng Khuang style, which was almost completely obliterated with the bombings of Laos's eastern regions during the Vietnam War. This style is almost wholly confined to temple art and a couple surviving pieces of this style can be found in the city of Luang Prabang today.

In the 1800s under the French and years later, modern building materials and techniques were brought to Laos. The people incorporated these techniques and materials into their new buildings and today the capital of Vientiane is home to a number of skyscrapers and modern buildings.

This page was last updated: March, 2013