Ethnic Groups

An old tradition in Ban Mixay village, Phoukoud district, is the making of mulberry paper umbrellas, but only a few people still know how to make the ‘Khan nyu’. The umbrellas were originally made by monks or novices at Buddhist temples and served as gifts to those who came to visit them. Nowadays they are sold in many colors and sizes at the local markets.

The spokes of the umbrella frame are made from ‘mai hok’ and the struts from ‘mai pong’ or ‘mai louang’ bamboo, For the center piece, which is of particular importance, ‘mai sombao’ is used. The paper is made from the mulberry tree, but not the type used for silk production. The outer pulp of the tree is pounded and mixed with water. Then the paste is poured into the frame and the fibers are separated until they are evenly distributed. The frame is set out to dry in the sun. The dried paper is cut and glued to the spokes. The glue is made from the fruit of the wild persimmon tree. The paper is dyed with natural dyes; sesame oil e.g. produces a white color and the roots of the ‘mak bao’ plant are used for red umbrellas.
 
Ban Napia village. Since the late 1980s the people of this cultural village produce spoons made of aluminum scrap of the Indochina Wars. Visiting the village you can learn about the spoon making process and also gain insights into Phuan culture. The village also produces hand-woven textiles and a good 'lao-lao' schnapps. Overnight stays with excellent food is available. You can book treks from Ban Napia to Ban Nam Kha at travel agents in Phonsavan. 
 
Ban Xieng Khio village Tai Dam villages can be found in the upland valley of Kham. The Tai Dam Cultural Centre showcases the cultural tradition and customs of this minority group. The centre is locally run; if the door is locked ask the villagers to open and visit the centre. Tai Dam are well known producers of fine quality silk and cotton fabrics which can be purchased directly by the manufacturers in the village or at Kham Handicraft Group Centre.
 
Xang village is located near a small hot spring. An ideal spot for a small break. Across the river Phuan women demonstrate their weaving.
 
Ban Phakeo Trekking is becoming more and more popular (most travel agents in Phonsavan are offering tours now). Phakeo village is a remote Hmong village located on the upper slopes of the mountains and can only be reached by walking with a guide. The small farming community with 20 households has retained a high degree of traditional customs and living. The Provincial Tourism Department assisted the villagers with offering a community based overnight stay.