Museum sheds light on Laos' intriguing past

15th Jul 2013

Laos is an emerging tourist destination which is winning global tourism plaudits after spending too long in the shadows.

This isolated south-east Asian gem has recently been voted the World's Best Tourist Destination 2013 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT).

But it still remains partially shrouded in mystery.

So holidaymakers on group tours here wishing to find out more about its rich history and culture can do no better than visit the Lao National Museum in Thanon Samsenthai, Vientiane.

It opened in 1985 and houses myriad relics from a host of cultural sites.

Tourists are immediately greeted on entering the building with a pot-pourri of ancient artefacts such as dinosaur bones, Khmer sculptures and pottery fragments.

The upstairs exhibits chronicle more modern events in Laos from the Siamese invasions and colonisation by the French across to revolution, communism and the American war.

It features information and stunning photographs of guillotines, old prisons, and soldiers.

The upstairs room - a mini shrine to a former long-serving prime minister - also contains a chest expander and spoon.

The reason?

They're both personal items once used by Kaysone Phomvihane.

The museum's final room is a new display detailing modern Laos' agricultural evolution.

Elsewhere, just south of Phonsavan, is Lao War Memorial, a hilltop tribute in the shape of Lao-style stupas (dome-shaped Buddhist structures).

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