What sports are popular in Laos?

Laos is a gorgeous nation with well-preserved and diverse cultural traditions. Similar to its neighbors in the region, the country has acclimated to modernity but has not yet abandoned its inherited traditions. The same holds true for sports. 

The prevalent sports in the nation appear to be attached to the country’s traditional values and to have significant historical or cultural significance. This makes one question which sports are the most prevalent in Laos. Listed below is an overview of the most prominent sports in Laos.

Sepak Takraw


Sepak Takraw, also known as Kataw among the general populace in Laos, is the national sport of the country and, like its Southeast Asian counterparts, is widely practiced throughout the country.

Sepak Takraw is a combination of soccer and volleyball, which is why it is also referred to as “kick volley ball” despite the fact that its name may sound perplexing. Similar to volleyball, the game requires a net, a ball, and four to eight participants. Typically, three competitors per side compete concurrently. The Sepak Takraw ball is made of either wicker or plastic. It is simple to toss and keep afloat due to its softness and lightness.

Players may transfer the ball using all body surfaces except their arms and hands. Before dispatching the ball to the opponent’s court, players on a single team are permitted a maximum of three passes. Similar to other net and ball sports, the first team scores a point if the opposing team is unable to return the ball to them. A round concludes when any team scores 21 points, and the team that wins two innings or rounds is the victor of the game.

Muay Laos 

Muay Lao

Muay Lao or Lao traditional boxing is the most prominent mixed martial arts sport in the country. This sport has a worldwide reputation for being one of the most violent disciplines. Muay Lao is a tad different from boxing, which is played around the world. Muay Lao resembles Muay Thai and Tomoi from Thailand and Malaysia, respectively. It is essentially a form of mixed martial arts involving knee strikes, jabs, elbow strikes, and kicks.

Before the game begins, the boxers kneel and pray to their respective Masters out of reverence. When the game proceeds, a small ensemble of musicians performs traditional music. Muay Laos is regarded as one of the most lethal sports and is more violent than boxing in France or England.


A man playing Petangue

Petanque, which is the national game of Laos, was originally a French game. The objective of the game is to throw or roll a hollow metal ball near to a small wooden ball, commonly referred to as “jack.” The winner is the player who pitches his metal ball closest to the jack. While pitching, players must remain within a circle and stand on both feet.

The game of Petanque is extremely popular because it can be played almost anywhere, from streets to parks, on firm ground to gravel, regardless of the terrain. The game has become an indispensable tradition for the residents, who play it everywhere. 

This game is played by people of all ages, including adults and infants, because it requires no thought and is a matter of skill and chance when pitching to jack. It is a method for many locals to remain cheerful and calm after long hours of labor.


Kids playing soccer

Compared to neighboring countries, Laos has accomplished relatively little in the football globe. Despite having a domestic division, the country is so small that it is comparable to neighboring Thailand, which is also small by regional standards.

Since 1951, the Laos football association has existed. Still, in all that time, they have never qualified for a significant international competition. 

The furthest the Lao national football team has ever advanced is to the ASEAN football championship, but they were in no position to win.

The announcement in 2017 that the national team was being investigated for match-fixing shook the Lao football scene. As a consequence, 15 Laos superstars were banned for life, and the Lao national team has been in turmoil ever since.

However, the average Laotian’s appreciation for the attractive game has not diminished. 

Cock Fighting

Similar to the rural regions of South Asia, including Pakistan and India, cock combat is a popular sport in Laos. The northern region of the country, including Nong Khiaw and Luang Prabang, may be the most likely place to see it performed.

Due to the nature of the game and concerns over animal cruelty, cock fighting was outlawed in the 1990s. However, the ban largely exists only in theory, and locals continue to engage in the sport, particularly on weekends and religious holidays. Even though gambling is illegal in Laos, wagers are made on these games.


Man playing golf

Golf is increasing in popularity in Asia. We are aware of seven golf courses in Laos. The 6,503-meter course at the Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort is regarded as one of the most beautiful 18-hole courses in Laos. In addition to golf, you will have a great time seeing the ancient and charming grandeur of these destinations, where there are numerous popular attractions. A fantastic and convenient combination for golfers who also enjoy discovering Laos’s treasures.

Pov Pob


This is a ball tossing game with a twist: it’s a dating game, or more specifically a means for mostly young people to find a spouse, and it takes place annually during the Chinese New Year Festival. The participants hurl balls between two opposing lines of people. If the ball is caught, it indicates affection between the person who hurled the ball and the person who caught it. In traditional Hmong culture, people are not permitted to marry within their own lineage, so the game is a way to break the ice between people from different villages who do not know each other very well. Hmong girls and women don elaborate traditional garb for this annual mating ritual, and once they have chosen a potential mate, they exit the game to engage in in-depth conversations with their future husband. If a match is found, it is customarily proclaimed three days after the conclusion of the festival, and the couple will be married when the next new moon occurs, which is typically three weeks after the Hmong New Year.



This is a game involving spinning tops played by men and adolescents. The top is constructed from dense wood and is affixed to a 3- to 4-meter-long string. Typically, the activity involves two teams. The first team will launch their tops and then rotate them by pulling on the cord. The second team immediately propels their tops with the intention of colliding with the first team’s spinning tops. Each strike results in the accumulation of points. As the game progresses, the starting team’s tops are launched further down the field from the starting line than the second team’s tops. This bizarre and one-of-a-kind game is one of the most remarkable spectacles at the Lao Hmong New Year’s Festival.

To conclude

In Laos, games and sports are extremely prevalent. A common misconception in wealthier nations is that people in developing nations, such as Laos, lack the time, energy, or desire to perform games and sports. However, this assumption is far from the truth. In Laos, however, the opposite is true. In a country where many people cannot afford expensive consumer goods, and in particular do not have consistent access to television or movie theaters, the importance of creating one’s own entertainment through sport and games increases. This is true for the poorest groups in Laos, including those who live off-grid in mountainous regions and for whom games play an essential cultural role.