Each year in Laos there is a Boat Racing Festival in either August or September, depending on the Lunar Calendar.  This year the race day falls on September 12th.  The races take place on the Nam Khan River.  Nearly 40 boats take part in the races, including racing boats from the neighboring provinces.

Before the boat races begin, there is a special alms giving ceremony outside the Royal Palace National Museum.  During the festival day, the residents also make offerings to their passed ancestors to give respect.

Boat teams will start out at the temple which houses their boat in the off season to recieve a blessing.  From their temple they will continue to either the old bridge or to Pak Khan, the mouth of the Nam Khan River. At these special locations each team will pray to the spirit of their boat for help in winning the race.

The main event starts around nine o’clock in the morning.  The banks of the Nam Khan River are crowded with spectators.  Locals and international visitors alike cheer on the boat racing team they want to win.  Colorful boats, each with about 35 men, go head-to-head, battling it out toward the finish line.  The winner of each race advances to the next round. Most of the town comes out for the event.  The excitement and thrill of the competition make this annual event one that should not be missed!

The boat races are not the only attraction.  The day before the races there is also a ro lat or street fair that will be held along Sisavang Road.

This is a great time to visit the World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang.  For questions on how to get here or where to stay email info@mekong-cruises.com.


Photo: Conde Pyruslav