Street Market in Luang Prabang


Shopping in Laos is getting better and better along with the increase in the  number of travelers visiting the country year over year. The traditional products get better and better to meet the requirements of the discerning traveller-shoppers.

The country has clear advantage that it has many communities living together and traditional products are different from one group to another, ranging from handicrafts to luxury and high-end jewellery.

Shopping in Laos requires the tourists the patience to look for the suitable items and the right shop to buy from, since local shops don't seem to have a dominant brand yet. Also shoppping in Laos requires a bit of skills in negotiating with the vendors for the good price. Normally you won't get the best price go shopping in the morning because for among many Lao groups, the first customer dictates the sales for the whole day. Meanwhile you'll need enough knowledge of price ranges so that you don't bargain too hard showing them that you have no idea about the prices.

Each town or tourist attraction in Laos have a morning market which is actually a whole-day market where you tend to get most shopping items for reasonable prices. The night street market in Luang Prabang is also the place to look for a nice shopping experience.

When shopping you'll keep in mind that exporting of antiquities are forbidden by Lao laws. Many shops offer “so-called” antiques which are not necessarily so. For big items, you'll have to air-send it back home. The service is not really up to the standards.

Laos has many ethnic minorities and many of them have their own weaving traditions that have developed for many  years. Each community tend to use a different material and would have different tastes of decoration. While in the north, textiles tend to be made of cotton and decorated with solid colors and geometric patterns generating a very calm and warm feeling; in the south, people tend to be very skillful at treating and dyeing the material, so that the fabric tend to be very fine and delicate. Keep it in mind that there are various ethnic groups in each regions of the country and each has very different textiles compared to the others'.

Textiles products range from Laos traditional clothings, scarf, wall-hangings, embroideries and bags. Some are embroidered along with silver coins.

There are some fine carvings in Laos on wood, bones and bamboo materials. Many carvings involve religious figures influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. There are also very fine opium pipes with very delicate carvings in Laos that can not be found else where.

Jewellery including gold, silver, and gems in Laos is not that of fine quality and if you look for the value, then jewellery in Laos can be good choice since the price is good. For jewellery with intricate workmanship, you had better wait until travelling in other neighboring countries.

Exporting of antiques is forbidden by Lao laws. Many of the antiques for sales in the local shops are not real. So you may want to be an expert in antiques while shopping for these items. Private Vietnam Tours don't recommend our travellers to shop antiques in Laos as part of our commitments to responsible tourism.