An evening of Traditional Lao Storytelling

In Luang Prabang, there is the opportunity to listen to some traditional Lao storytelling and I cannot recommend it enough!

Aside from travelling, my biggest interest is definitely reading. I love fiction, and I especially love reading books set in the countries I visit.

Traditional stories are so important due to their important role in many cultures. It was the top of my list of things to do while I was there and as soon as I’d checked into my hostel, I went straight to that evening’s performance.

The company is called Garavek and they have a performance every night at 6:30pm. It costs 50,000 kip which is just over £4.

The Stories

My Lao Storytelling ticket
My Lao storytelling ticket

Our storyteller for the evening told us that he was going to focus primarily on stories based in Luang Prabang. He told us a story about the origins of Phusi Hill in the centre of town, along with a tragic story about two lovers who now lie together across the river. His choice of stories was fantastic as it meant afterwords, you were able to actually visit the locations mentioned in the stories. I climbed Phusi Hill the following day and was able to see the two mountains that represent the two lovers from the stories.

We also heard a storie about Xieng Mieng, a clever trickster who appears in many Lao stories.

If you are interested in reading some Lao stories, This website contains several which serve as a great introduction to the folklore. Only one of them was included in the evening so you won’t spoil it for yourself.

Lao Storytelling

A short clip of some of the music played during the performance

Storytelling isn’t just about the stories, but about the atmosphere. How you tell a story has a huge influence on the audience.

The location was a very small room with a total of 30 seats. This created an intimate, cosy atmosphere. The lights were very low so that you could focus on just their voices.

The storyteller was accompanied by a traditional musician who played the khene. The khene is a Laotian mouth organ made out of bamboo.

The background music really helped build the atmosphere for the stories. Every so often the storyteller would also use a drum, especially during tales involving royalty.

The entire experience was incredible and I could have spent hours listening to them.


Is an evening of Lao storytelling something that appeals to you? Have you visited any similar experiences in other countries? What did you think of them?

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9 Comments

  1. Chelé

    I love your post, it brought back really happy memories of visiting Garavek

    • Thank you! It was one of my favourite activities while in Luang Prabang and I will definitely go back again next time I visit Laos.

      • This is something I’d really be interested in. I, like you, love reading so this is awesome. I also really like these smaller more traditional experiences when I’m away. I really want to visit Laos so you’ve given me something to think about for when I make it there

  2. This is something I had never heard of before! Seems pretty cool and a chance to get some awesome stories!

  3. This is super cool! What an awesome tradition to be a part of. Definitely something I’d want to do when I eventually make it to Laos.

  4. Renee | The Holidaymaker

    I’ve not heard of this before, but love the idea! What a great way to understand the culture better than through storytelling. And I’m sure those stories are long lasting memories too.

    • It’s definitely something I’m going to keep an eye out for in future when travelling! I usually take free walking tours as they often include a couple local legends but this was a whole new experience.

  5. Oh how cool! I love experiences like this. I’m like you, travel and reading are my passions, so this would have been awesome!

  6. Local stories are always such an interesting part of travelling… sounds like you had a lovely experience listening to some of these! I like that you could visit the places afterwards too; such a unique way of bringing somewhere to life! Have you ever visited Bali? I think you’d like seeing a Kecak Fire Dance if you get the chance — both interesting and mesmerising! 🙂

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