Photo: Pick your poison.

Ban Xang Hai

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At Ban Xang Hai, a Mekong village north of Luang Prabang, visitors can see the process of making lao-Lao, the country’s beloved rice whiskey, second only to BeerLao in popularity. A visit is usually included on boat trips to Pak Ou Cave. The village is very touristy but can be enjoyable as a short stop that’s part of a bigger trip.

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Lao-Lao is an integral part of Lao culture. It’s used in blessing ceremonies, and as a guest in any village, don’t be surprised if you are offered a shot of the firewater (or a large glass!) no matter what time of day. Accepting a shot or even a sip is a sure way to make fast friends with the locals. It’s also a sure way of instantly growing chest hairs—the stuff is potent.

Lao moonshine. Photo taken in or around Ban Xang Hai, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Lao moonshine. Photo: Cindy Fan

The village is located on the banks of the Mekong River, 1-1.5 hours upriver from Luang Prabang, by road 20 kilometres. The method is surprisingly rudimentary and traditional, still made using an open fire and earthen jars made in “the pottery village” Ban Chan, another Mekong village downriver from Luang Prabang. There’s only a few lao-Lao makers in the village, find them scattered along ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Luang Prabang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.

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