Top 5 Streets to Enjoy Pi Mai Lao in Vientiane
The festival of Pi Mai Lao, known to the rest of the world as “The Laotian New Year”, is easily the most lively and exciting festival celebrated in Laos. Everyone looks forward to the festival as it is celebrated across the country and it has deep significance to Laotian society. Much like the “Songkran festival” in Thailand, Pi Mai Lao is celebrated over a 3-day period, where people throw water on each other and partake in many different festivities.
The first day of the festival is the last day of the old year, this is when people clean their homes and villages. The second day of the festival is the “day of no day” as it is not the old year or the new year and the last day marks the start of the new year. Celebrations and events will take place all over Laos during Pi Mai Lao and Vientiane is no different. Here are the top 5 streets for you to check out in Vientiane during Pi Mai Lao.
Setthathilath road is one of the main roads on which the Pi Mai Lao parade will travel. To be more specific, this is usually the starting point of the Nang Sangkhan procession or the Miss Lao New Year procession. The Nang Sangkhan pageant features 7 girls, symbolizing each of mythical King Kabinlaphrom’s daughters, and the winner is crowned Miss Lao New Year. Tourists are also invited to join the procession and enjoy friendly water fights with locals. All of this is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel.
Wat Si Muang, which sits on the corner of Setthathilath road and Samsenthai road, is one of the central fixtures to Pi Mai Lao in Vientiane. Visitors line up on all the streets leading to the temple including Rue Simeauang to participate in a Baci, a traditional Laotian ceremony. Baci ceremonies take place at the temple on all three of the festival days with people from all over the city trying to visit as many temples as possible. Participating in a baci ceremony during Pi Mai Lao is a way for Laotian people to bestow good luck and success in the new year and if you attend, you might get some of that good luck too!
Chao Fa Ngum Road or Quai Fa Ngum
This is another hot spot for the entirety of the festival with some of the largest crowds you will see in Vientiane. The Nang Sangkhan festival passes through here too, but the main draw is the sand sculpture exhibition that takes place on the banks of the Mekong river. People come to the capital from all over the country to visit family members and loved ones and they inevitably meet by the river. Since it will likely be very hot out during the festival, many locals like to take a dip in the river and you can join in as well.
The hotel is located on one of the biggest streets in the city and it is one of the biggest hubs of activity during Pi Mai Lao. There are many street parties taking place on Samsenthai Road and it is likely that parades will pass through here at some point during the festival. With so many restaurants, bars and hotels on the street, Samsenthai Road is a great place to start when celebrating the festival.
Chao Anou Road
Intersecting both Samsenthai Road and Setthathilath Road is Chao Anou Road, another major street in downtown Vientiane. This street is sure to have plenty of restaurants and fun parties but it is even more interesting because it passes through so many streets already mentioned on this list. You can use Chao Anou Road to see what is happening on any of the other streets or wander into the grid of streets north of Rue Samsenthai. The back alleys of Vientiane are always extremely vibrant and lively, and Chao Anou Road could be a great way to experience them.