A Sala (Thai: ศาลา), is an open pavilion like construction, which is used as a meeting, resting or relaxation place.
It's main purpose is to protect people from the tropical weather phenomenon, such as intense sun and rain.
Most salas are open on four sides. They can be found throughout Thailand and Laos. Originally salas were built within Buddhist temple areas, also know as Wats, but they can also be located in other places, such as road side shelters, in plantations or in front of private houses.
If a person builds a sala within a temple compound or in another public place, the person will gain merit and the respect of the local community.
A sala located on the ground of a temple is called a sala wat.
While some temples have large salas where the public can hear sermons or receive religious instructions other have only small salas or none at all. In Cambodia, sala also refers to school.
In Thailand's and Laos' more rural areas, travelers can use the salas to rest and reflect. A roadside sala is a sala rim thannon and may be used as a bus stop.
Salas in front of private houses are often constructed from wood, bamboo and thatched with a palm tree roof. This natural material allows the air to freely flow, which is especially helpful during the hotter time of the year. The sala is used by the whole family. It serves as storage, working and resting place, but also to meet friends and other people. The sala is a often used socializing place in Thailand and Laos.