The Miss Lao contest is an annual event held in Luang Prabang during the Lao New Year (Pi Mai) celebrations. The winner is given the privilege of riding on a peacock float during Pi Mai parade. 6 others get to ride on the float in less prominent positions, so there’s a big incentive to make it to the final 7 contestants. Also on offer is a monthly feature in the follow year’s beer Lao calender, which almost every person in the country seems to have a copy of.

The prettiest didn’t win according to a Lao guy I met that now lives in Australia. Apparently the prettiest girl that should have won didn’t look Lao enough. A volunteer read a magazine article about the strict criteria the Miss Lao contest judges its contestants against. You have to have black eyes, a streamline figure, and be a virgin. The virgin part might account to why the average age of the participants has dropped to 17 in the past few years.