Lao Song ethnic community strives to retain unique culture


Over 234 years ago, a vibrant ethnic group known as the Thai Song Dam or Lao Song migrated from Laos to Khao Yoi, in Thailand’s present day province of Phetchaburi, southwest of Bangkok. Dubbed as one of Thailand’s top eight strongest ethnic groups with a distinct traditional identity, the present day “Thai Song Dum” ethnic group are gathered once again to celebrate their matchless identity and culture. 

Gathered at a local museum, village leaders performed a special ceremony to pay respect to their deity known as Prayataenluang in asking for peace and prosperity for all villagers.

“We have our own language, a language which includes 39 characters… we have our own distinct hairstyle and vibrant clothes which are different to other regions in Thailand. We have our own set of rules, and way of life. More importantly, we are loving, humble and very honest people. All ethnic groups regardless of where they are from should have this particular standpoint and unity,” said Thanom Kongyimlamai, a local wisdom bearer.

The clothing that the Thai Song Dam wear are mainly dark colours, such as black or dark blue, with women’s hair specifically tied up in a high bun, as well as a scarf which describes their own status. The various activities enable the youth to get to learn more about one another.

“We are very concerned about how this ethnic minority group will be able to withstand the changing currents of modern trends and globalization. We’re worried about this issue and will try to incorporate local culture into the educational curriculum. We have our own language, way of life as well as culture, which I believe has brought us to this day,” Panas Luanmuang, chief of Nong Prong Subdistrict Administrative Organisation.

Although ethnic groups are always posed with a challenge to maintain their own sense of identity amid an ever-changing world, the ethnic Thai Song Dam are a great example of how traditions passed on for over hundreds of years can still be beautifully performed even in the midst of our globalised era.