Five Things We Learned at an Akha Wedding


Ever attended a minority tribe wedding in shorts and a t-shirt? We did, accidentally, during our stay 8km from Muang Sing, and 3km from the Chinese border. We heard the music, walked up the dirt path, and here's what we found.

dancing at an Akha tribe wedding outside of Muang Sing

1. While kids will ask you for money, adults will gladly give you beer... and whiskey, and food, and whatever else. There's no acceptable way to decline the booze, so just go for it. As for the food, if you tell them you're vegetarian, it's an easy way out!

2. The traditional Akha dances are somewhere between line dancing and the electric slide. They're easy to learn and fun to do, so join in. The 200+ guests loved watching us make fools of ourselves.

Lina doing the local version of the electric slide at an Akha tribe wedding outside of Muang Sing

3. Despite living in thatched huts down a dirt road, the Akha teenagers seem to have gotten some of their dance moves from the MTV generation. That's why there are no elders at the party part of the wedding. They sit in a separate house and have "civilized" conversation, and lao-lao (rice whiskey) of course.

4. There seems to be an unlimited supply of BeerLao, and because the guests often spill half of it while trying to guzzle, the bottles quickly gather under the table. It's up to the children—ages four to seven—to collect them and pack them into crates, while the young adults drink on.

The dance floor cleared as a young man brings another crate of Beer Lao

5. Every table setting comes with a plastic bag of sticky rice. Enough said.

More on Northern Laos

If you haven't already, read about our budget travels through Northern Laos and check out our Northern Laos photo tour.

Have you ever accidentally crashed a wedding? Tell us your story in the comments!