THE EARLY THAI KINGDOMS
The Tai-Kadai speaking peoples (of which the Lao are an ethnic sub-group) are believed to have begun migrating south from the Nan Chao kingdom of southern China by at least the 8th century.
While their initial rise to power was achieved under Khmer overlordship, the subsequent decline of the Khmer empire and a series of judicious alliances with the Mongols afforded the more powerful Tai rulers an opportunity to throw off the yoke of Angkor. The earliest Tai imperial mandalas to emerge in the wider region were Sukhothai and Lanna; other important Tai kingdoms of this period included Xiang Saen (Chiang Saen) the loose confederations of Sip Song Chu Tai (north west Viet Nam) and Sip Song Panna (Xishuangbanna in southern China). Meanwhile in what is now Lao territory Candapuri, Sayfong, Phainam, Sri Gotapura and Muang Sua became the Tai muang of Chanthaburi, Sayfong, Phainam, Sikhottabong and Xiang Dong Xiang Thong, setting the stage for the foundation of the kingdom of Lane Xang in the mid 14th century.