The endemic species of Laos are nothing short of exotic. In fact, some of the animals that reside here, you probably wouldn’t have even known that they existed! It's another reason to volunteer in Laos. The leafy-green country is home to a diverse animal population, that includes a wide range of scaled, furry and feathered varieties of wildlife. With such a diversified animal kingdom it’s difficult to pick the most notable, here are just a few:
• Sun Bears
• Black Crested Gibbons
• Irrawaddy Dolphins
• Clouded Leopards
Sadly, many of Laos’ native species are endangered due to illegal wildlife trading and poaching, and also the deforestation that is rife throughout Asia. With the Lao government taking a strict stance on wildlife crime and the rise of eco-tourism, the future of Laos’ animals is looking more and more positive but there is still so much work to be done.
Laos has a rich culture infused with Theravada Buddhism and holds a complex and unique history. Due to the sheer number of ethnic groups, Laos is considered to be one of the most diverse countries in Southeast Asia.
Religion – As Buddhism is prevalent throughout the country, Laos’ music, art and architecture often reflects this. Buddhism is a huge part of their way of life and contributes to the laid-back lifestyle that Laos is known for. Another notable religion in Laos is Animism, a belief system that perceives non-human entities such as animals and plants as having souls and spirits.
Cuisine – Laos and Northeast Thailand share a distinct cuisine that slightly differs from other Southeast Asian countries. The first thing that comes to mind when discussing Lao food is sticky rice, which is known as the staple dish. It is a dish that might compliment Laab – a mixture of marinated meat or fish. Typically, Lao dishes hold a large number of ingredients and tend to always include fresh herbs and vegetables. Dinner is more-often-than-not a communal experience.
Tradition – One important tradition that is held throughout Laos is the Baci ceremony, also known as Su Kwan, which means ‘calling on the soul’. The ritual carried out is to preserve good luck and fortune by tying a symbolic thread around a person’s wrist. This is performed at special events such as weddings, births, and welcoming and farewell occasions.