Sokdee Pii Mai Laos! Happy Lao New Year!

It’s the New Year here in Laos! Sokdee Pii Mai Laos! (Happy Lao New Year!)

The Lao New Year or Songkran or Pii Mai Lao is one of the most important events in Laos and also takes place at about the same time as the New Year celebrations across South East Asia. The official dates for celebrating Pii Mai Lao are April 14, 15 and 16th although celebrations can go as long as one week in some cities.

The main avenue in Luang Prabang is closed for the big outdoor public market.

The main avenue in Luang Prabang is closed for the big outdoor public market on Lao New Year.

We arrived on the 13th here at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang, Laos. It’s been a really wet experience so far because at this time of the year, as Laotian tradition goes, people will splash – actually, they will soak you with water. The custom originates from the spring cleaning aspect of the Pii Mai Lao. The New Year is greeted with washing everyone’s house with water as well as cleaning the Buddha images and using the “blessed water” in splashing everyone as a way of respect and bringing good fortunes.

People will throw buckets of water at you during Lao New Year. Don't take it personal. It's part of the tradition.

People will throw buckets of water at you during Lao New Year. Don’t take it personal. It’s part of the tradition.

Even as we took the tuktuk from the bus terminal to our guest house, we couldn’t escape from the locals throwing buckets of water at us. So we arrived soaking wet at our guest house. But we were not the only one. Most backpackers who arrived that day (and apparently even those who arrived a couple of days before) were soaked with water.

This tuktuk full of newly arrived backpackers are not safe from locals splashing water as part of the Lao New Year tradition.

This tuktuk full of newly arrived backpackers are not safe from locals splashing water as part of the Lao New Year tradition.

People are also respectfully throwing water to the monks.

People are also respectfully throwing water to the monks.

The Pi Mai Lao is a massive street water fight!

The Pi Mai Lao’s most famous aspect is the splashing (or throwing buckets) of water to everyone.

There is loud music, good food, lots of Beer Lao and a happy, party atmosphere everywhere! Everyone is outside with their water guns, buckets and hoses ready to soak passers-by with water. There are a lot of visitors that join the fun by getting themselves water guns for the big water fight.

These kids are ready to soak you wet with their water guns!

These kids are ready to soak you wet with their water guns!

There is almost no escape to getting splashed and hosed down with water so it’s advisable to waterproof everything you don’t want to get wet. Unless your gadgets are waterproofed, it can be a challenge to take photos to capture the event because you (and your electronics) will most likely be splashed with water.

There's no escape to the water being thrown at you in buckets!

There’s no escape to the water being thrown at you in buckets!

In Luang Prabang, there are some parades and festivities organized during the official Pii Mai Lao dates. There are parades and spectacles that showcase traditional Lao costumes, music, dance and theater.

Procession at Luang Prabang

There are parades and spectacles that showcase traditional Lao costumes, music, dance and theater.

Traditional Lao dance infront of the Luang Prabang National Museum.

Traditional Lao dance infront of the Luang Prabang National Museum.

The celebrations in Luang Prabang can last about a week celebrated in different parts of the city! Now, that’s a really long New Year’s celebration! 🙂

Many Laotians also build sand stupas for the New Year. They believe that the sand stupa will give them a year-round protection against sickness and year-round guarantee of wealth and prosperity.

Many Laotians also build sand stupas for the New Year. They believe that the sand stupa will give them a year-round protection against sickness and year-round guarantee of wealth and prosperity.

The Lao New Year celebrations in Luang Prabang is one of the most anticipated event of the year.

The Lao New Year celebrations in Luang Prabang is one of the most anticipated event of the year.

We wish everyone in Laos a very Happy New Year! All the best and good fortunes for this coming year! 🙂

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One response to “Sokdee Pii Mai Laos! Happy Lao New Year!

  1. Pingback: Laos Adventures: Luang Prabang | I am Hurly.·

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