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National holidays

Below is the list of famous public holidays in Laos ranging from harvest festivities, rain-making ceremonies to religious observations. Please note that government offices are closed on these days and, although certain shops stay open, not a lot gets done. So relax and join in the fun because in the typical manner of Southeast Asia these Public Holidays are a bundle of colorful fun.

  • New Year's Day on Jan 1
  • Pathet Lao Day on Jan 6
  • Army Day on Jan 20: This celebrates the founding of the Lao People's Army in 1949 by Kaysone Phomvihane in the former revolutionary stronghold of Huaphan province
  • Vietnamese/Chinese New Year on Feb 1: Celebrated in Vientiane, Pakse and Savannakhet by the larger Vietnamese and Chinese communities who close their businesses for several days during this period, this festival combines visits to temples and merit making with noisy parties, and hundreds of strings of firecrackers
  • Day of the People's Party on Mar 22
  • Lao New Year (Pi Mai) on Apr 13 – 15: Lasting several days in mid-April, this is the celebration of the Laos New Year and is a combination of merriment and meditation. Similar to festivals at this time of year in other Southeast Asian countries - particularly Thailand - Boun Pimai is celebrated with parades, dancing, singing and enthusiastic water throwing. The religious aspects of the festival are most apparent in Luang Prabang, where Buddha images are worshiped with water pouring ceremonies. Temple compounds are further decorated with small sand Stupas, offered as merit towards good fortune and health.
  • Labour Day on May 1
  • Birth of Buddha on May 16
  • Children's Day on Jun 1
  • Khao Pansa (Buddhist Fast begins) on July 13: Marking the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent, which commences at the full moon in July and continues until the full moon in October, this is considered a particularly auspicious time for Lao men to enter the monkhood and is marked by numerous ordination ceremonies
  • Lao Issara (Day of the Free Laos) on Aug 13: A celebration of the Issara, the freedom fighters who gained victory in Laos in the 1970s.
  • Bouk ok Pansa (Buddhist Fast ends) on Oct 5: Marking the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent on the day of the full moon. Monks are at last permitted to leave the temple and are presented with gifts. One particularly beautiful aspect is Lai Hua Fai. On the eve of Awk Phansaa people gather at the nearest body of water to release dozens of small banana-leaf boats decorated with candles, incense and small flowers, in a celebration similar to Thailand's Loy Krathong Festival.
  • Day of Liberation on Oct 12: End of war in Laos in 1975 and the Pathet Lao achieved victory
  • National Day on Dec 2: Streets strewn with national flags and banners, processions, parades, and speeches are the highlights of this celebration for the victory of the proletariat in 1975.
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