Buddha statues © Adam Jones
The biggest annual event on the Buddhist calendar is Visakha Busa, the day on which the Buddha was born, died and became enlightened. Temples are filled with devotees, and families hold feasts and parties to mark the occasion. Although the festival is marked in every village in the country, the best place to experience it is probably Luang Prabang, where a magical lantern procession is held to mark the occasion, as well as ceremonies at the sacred Pak Ou Caves, a little further up the river. Travellers in Vientiane will enjoy fireworks and bamboo rockets, most of which are home-made with gunpowder - so don't get too close! The festival is a joyous celebration of faith and there is nothing sombre about the occasion, making it an extremely fun time to be in the country. The Lao people tend to be friendly and enjoy sharing their festivities with respectful tourists who show an interest in their traditions. Note that although many countries celebrate Buddha's birthday - including China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and many more - the dates on which the day is celebrated often vary country to country. The festival takes place on the day of the first full moon in May in Laos, except in leap years.
Date: First full moon in May