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Xaysomboun Ethnic Diversity

Xaysomboun’s sparse population of 80,000 is home to a few ethnic minorities known for their craftsmanship, some of which are exported to the West.


The Hmong have established hilltop villages in Xaysomboun, and are skilled at hunting, mixing herbal medicines and raising animals. Intricate embroidery and heavy silver jewellery adorn their clothes, and some villages create batik designs using beeswax and indigo dyes. The Hmong New Year in December/January features top-spinning competitions and courting couples tossing mak kone (small fabric balls).

The Khmu migrated to Laos thousands of years ago. They practice animism and spirit worship, and rely on the forest for growing rice, hunting and gathering, and producing woven rattan and bamboo basketry, tools, and net-bags. When visiting a Khmu village, taste their famous lao hai (jar alcohol).

Ancestors of the province’s Tai Dam migrated from north-western Vietnam in the late 19th century. Unlike Buddhist Tai groups, the Tai Dam worship phi (spirits) and their ancestors. Women wear colourful head-scarves and tight-fitting shirts with silver buttons. They make potent lao khao rice alcohol, and produce fine silk and cotton textiles.

The Tai Phuan wandered in from southern China during the 13th century. They are mostly rice paddy farmers, who also fish and collect non-timber forest products.


Xaysomboun…The Roof of Laos

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