Just north of Nam Phou, on Samsenthai Road, the Lao National Museum is housed in the former mansion of the French résident supérieur and set in overgrown grounds with a hideous fountain and plumeria (frangipani) trees, the delicate blossoms of which are the national flower of Laos. Previously known as the Lao Revolutionary Museum, the institution deals primarily with the events, both ancient and recent, that led to the “inevitable victory” of the proletariat in 1975. Inside, Laos’s ancient past is crudely depicted on canvas, with scenes such as crimson-clad Lao patriots of yore liberating the motherland from Thai and Burmese “feudalists”. Upstairs there are more crude oils: “French colonialists” are depicted as hair-faced ogres bullwhipping tightly trussed Lao villagers or tossing Lao tots down a well. Black-and-white photographs take over to tell the story of the struggle against “the Japanese fascists” and “American imperialists”. Most of the best artefacts on display, including a wonderfully detailed Khmer sculpture of Ganesh and a bronze frog-drum, possibly used in ancient rain-making rituals, didn’t fit neatly into the official socialist story line, and were, until recently, very neglected. Some of the exhibits are currently only labelled in Lao, but a project is underway to ensure English translations are made available.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Laos features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
A postcard from Laos: exploring the curious Plain of Jars

A postcard from Laos: exploring the curious Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars, in northern Laos, remains one of Southeast Asia's great mysteries. Shafik Meghji journeys here to uncover the secrets of this little-tourist…

31 Oct 2017 • Shafik Meghji insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook