Set in the heart of Luang Prabang, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is a small museum dedicated to four of Laos’ main ethnic minority groups. Displays include traditional costumes, religious artifacts, and crafts, while exhibits feature signage in French, English, and Lao. The shop is a great source of ethical artisan souvenirs.
Tickets to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre are affordably priced, and revenue goes to support cultural diversity in Laos. Visiting with a guide can help bring the displays to life, and tours with museum guides and curators are available on-site.
Thanks to its central location, the museum is easily visited on foot or by bicycle, and a guide is not required. While many visitors simply wander by as part of their Luang Prabang explorations, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is an occasional stop on Luang Prabang city tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is a must-visit for anyone interested in minority groups and those planning to explore northern Laos.
- 50% of each sale from TAEC’s museum shop goes to producers, overwhelmingly minority women who use the revenue to support their families.
- The museum runs half-day workshops in crafts including Hmong embroidery and Khmu bamboo weaving. Book in advance.
- Children under 12 receive free admission to TAEC and coloring materials or a treasure hunt game. A dedicated activity center features hands-on crafts plus costumes for souvenir photos.
How to Get There
The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is around half a mile (750 meters) from the Royal Palace, at the base of Mt. Phousi. It’s an easy walk or cycle from most central Luang Prabang locations, but hiring a private driver for the day can enable you to combine it with attractions farther afield.
When to Get There
The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is open morning to early evening every day but Monday. It’s worth visiting with time in hand to spare for the shop, while the craft workshops, which need to be reserved in advance, operate in the mornings. Free TAEC tours are offered on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.
TAEC and Laos’ Minority Groups
With a population of around seven million, Laos is home to roughly 50 different ethnicities, further subdivided into approximately 160 ethnic groups. The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre focuses on four of the larger ethnicities—Hmong, Khmu, Akha, and Tai Dam—their rich traditions, colorful costumes, and unique handicrafts. A social enterprise, the museum helps support these minority cultures.