Shopping in Laos
While traveling in a foreign country, we always want to bring some souvenirs with local characteristics to our friends and relatives, or buy this country's products to take home to remember the trip. For those who visit to Laos for the first time, they may not know what the unique specialties in Laos to buy. Here we would like to introduce some special products of Laos and places to go shopping in some popular cities in Laos.
What to Buy in Laos
Raw handmade paper in Laos is very famous. Handicrafts that are made of the raw handmade paper are also common on the market, including paintings, paper lampshades, postcards, notebooks, and many other things. The paintings on these paper artworks are mostly related to Buddhism, which is very characteristic of Laos. They are very popular with tourists.
Located beside the Mekong River and 3 kilometers east of the city center, Ban Xang Khong is a local village that is famous for weavings in Luang Prabang. There are exquisite fabrics and hand-made elephant dung papercrafts with flowers and leaves. This village is home to many workshops of weaving, paper making, and painting. The fabrics here are of good quality, but the price is lower than those of the same quality sold in the downtown. Here you can also see how the villagers make these handicrafts by hand. Very interesting!
Coffee beans in Laos are grown on the only volcanic ash plateau - Boloven Plateau, which is located in Champasak province in the south of Laos. The coffee bean grown in Boloven Plateau is one of the twelve best coffee beans in the world. It does not use pesticides and chemical fertilizers. It is fertilized with the excrement of buffalo, so it meets the green standards.
The Boloven Plateau is the coffee kingdom of Laos, and it produces 95% of this country's coffee. The mild climate, moist air, and the nutrient-rich volcanic soil make this land a paradise for coffee planting, and this land is considered to be the best place for coffee cultivation in Southeast Asia.
The reason why Laos becomes the coffee kingdom is inseparable from geopolitics, war, and former colonies. At the beginning of the 20th century, France took the lead in introducing Vietnamese coffee beans to the Boloven Plateau in order to have a place in Laos. With the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, many Lao residents returned to the Boloven Plateau to plant coffee.
Although it is not as famous as Brazilian coffee, Laos' coffee is popular with Europeans, especially French people. In recent years, the Laos' coffee has also been increasingly popular with Japanese and Taiwanese people.
Production of textiles in Laos has a long history. Today, the traditional production mode of hand-loom is still maintained, and the yarn is mostly handmade by local rural women. Designs and patterns are usually made up of Laotian spiritual symbols, mythological patterns or animals. Such compositions have distinctive Laos' characteristics. In addition to traditional dyeing, there are now high-quality printings on the silk fabric.
These textiles are the most beautiful and the easiest to buy in Laos. They can be bought all over the country. Especially in the traditional textile villages, you can not only see the whole process of weaving, but also make a bargain at a good price. If you do not have the opportunity to go to the textile village, you can also buy it in the local markets of various places, especially the night markets in Luang Prabang. The textiles there are particularly rich in variety.
In Laos, the best cotton products and silk fabrics are the divine sacraments used to worship the deities. They have different designs and colorful patterns, and are favored by foreign tourists.
Sapphire is a general term for corundum gemstones of other colors than Ruby. The color of sapphire can be pink, yellow, green, white, or even multiple colors on the same stone. Sapphire is found in Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Cambodia, Changle in Shandong Province (China), Hainan (China), etc. Among them, the Sapphire from the Kashmir region is probably the rarest.
Sapphire is covered with mysterious supernatural colors by ancient people, and is regarded as auspicious objects. Sapphire symbolizes loyalty, constancy, love, and honesty. Starlight sapphire, also known as the "stone of destiny", can protect the wearer's safety and make people lucky. Sapphire is a kind of high-grade gemstone, and is ranked third after diamonds and rubies.
When you come to Laos, you must visit a local tourist sapphire shopping shop. The main consumers there are Koreans and Thais. The quality could be guaranteed, and the price is affordable. You can buy it as a souvenir if you find something you like.
Laos' wood carving is well worth buying as a tourist handiwork. In Laos, wood carving is a kind of traditional art. The carvings are quite exquisite, and the materials are also selected from woods of high quality. Therefore, the wood carvings in Laos have become a handicraft that must be brought when you visit Laos, and they are of high collection value.
Wood carving in Laos is famous for its exquisite craftsmanship and high-quality materials. The patterns vary from traditional deities to daily life, from flowers and plants to animals. It is both practical and of high aesthetic value. Most of the wood crafts in Laos are made of good wood, and they are made from a single log, no matter it is a large or small piece of woodenware. They are not made of synthetic wood. So they have a high artistic value, and of course, the price is not low. When you travel to Laos, you may wish to bring back some exotic wood carvings, put them in your home or give them to friends and relatives as gifts.
►Gold and Silver Jewelry
Gold jewelry is the most popular jewelry in Laos. Most Lao women have the habit of wearing gold jewelry. Gold in Laos is pure gold, and the price of gold is usually fixed.
Silver is common in Laos too. It is usually made into jewelry and silverware. The most exquisite silver ornaments in Laos are made by people in tribes in high mountains. The silver jewelry in the market is of varying quality, so it is better to have an expert to accompany you to find the best products.
Where to Buy in Laos
In popular tourist destinations, such as Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, it is quite easy to find places to go shopping for souvenirs or other things. We would like to introduce some well-known local markets to go shopping in Laos.
►Phousi Market in Luang Prabang
- Address: Photisalath Road (by the Mekong), south of Phou Vao Road, Luang Prabang, Laos
- Opening hours: 7:00AM to 17:00PM
- How to get: You can go there by Tuk Tuk. It takes only 5 minutes to travel from the central area of the ancient town of Luang Prabang to get to Phousi market. Or you can go there by bike. It takes about 10 minutes by bike from the central area of the ancient town of Luang Prabang.
Phousi market is the largest market in Luang Prabang. It mainly deals in clothing, shoes and hats, various daily commodities, ethnic textiles and handicrafts, fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, all kinds of Lao coffee, and other daily necessities. You may see many interesting things that you can't find in the domestic markets. Many locals also shop here for their daily necessities. Things in this market are very plentiful and cheap. Many foreigners take it as a place of interest to experience the life of the locals. Also, many visitors go there to buy all kinds of fresh tropical fruits to eat.
►Handicraft Market (Hmong Market)
- Address: in the old town of Luang Prabang, junction of Sisavangvong Road and Kitsalath Road
- Opening hours: 8:00AM to 16:00PM
- How to get: if your hotel is located inside the ancient town of Luang Prabang, you can go there on foot.
Handicraft Market, also known as Hmong Market, is located inside in the old town of Luang Prabang. The market sells all kinds of handicrafts, scarves, wood carvings, etc. It should be the largest handicraft market in Luang Prabang. Basically, you can find all kinds of handicrafts of Laos here. Most of the handmade textiles are made by the local Hmong people. The price of handicrafts in this market is relatively low and very valuable. The best time to go is after seeing the sunset on Phousi Mountain.
►Morning Market in Vientiane
- Address: Lane Xang Avenue
- Opening hours: 8:00AM-16:00PM
- How to get: it can be reached on foot.
The morning market in Vientiane is divided into the old market and the new market. The newly-built market is a three-floor building similar to the domestic shopping mall, with a comfortable shopping environment. The old market is a traditional market with two floors. The first floor sells everything from handmade souvenirs to the daily necessities of the local people. The second floor mainly deals with gold wares and jewelry. If you want to buy souvenirs, it is recommended to come here. And you can bargain if you want to buy something.
►Vientiane Center Lao
- Address: Khouvieng Road, Vientiane, Laos
- Opening hours: 10:00AM-21:00PM
- How to get: it can be reached on foot or by Tuk Tuk
Vientiane Center Lao is located in the core business district of Vientiane, and integrates finance, office and shopping. Vientiane Center Lao is a modern shopping center in Vientiane, and it should be the most modern and high-end shopping mall in Laos. You can find famous international brands, such as Lancome and Dior, Zara, Belle, Adidas, Nike, and so on. The merchants come from Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, China, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other countries and regions.