What trip to Southeast Asia would be complete without spending time exploring the sights, sounds and smells of local markets? There are several here in Luang Prabang worth checking out and this blog aims to give you an idea of what you can expect to find at each.
1. Night Market
It’s the largest handicraft market in Laos and many tourists come to Luang Prabang specifically to do their shopping at this market which is located on the main road of the town. Items that you are likely to find include: Lao textiles, Hmong embroidery, souvenir t-shirts, handbags, paper umbrellas, lamps, fridge magnets and a range of clothing featuring elephant prints. Look for the ‘Made In Luang Prabang’ signs if you want to support the local textile industry. You will be able to tell the difference in quality between these items and the cheaper products that have been imported from neighboring countries. There are also delicious things to eat and drink surrounding the market including the Lao coconut pancakes, fresh fruit shakes, baguettes and beer.
Opening hours: 05 – 10PM
Location map: on the main street start from Tourism Information Center to the National Museum.
The largest of the markets in Luang Prabang – this is a good place to go to buy cheap Lao textiles and clothing. The market is divided into several sections – clothing, fresh produce, dried foods, live animals, toiletries and hardware. If you’re setting up a home in town – it’s a good place to go as your ‘one stop shop’ for cooking appliances, furniture, bedding and kitchenware as well as bathroom supplies. The entrance to the market has a range of fresh fruit and vegetables for sale. Be extra careful of your bag at this market as it can get very crowded and people have been pick-pocketed in recent years.
Opening hours: 05 to 17 O’clock.
Location: on the road to Kuang Si Waterfall.
3. Dara Market
This is an indoor market located a block away from the tourism office. The majority of stalls sell sinhs which are the traditional skirts worn by Lao women made from very colourful material. They also sell traditional Lao blouses and men’s shirts. A little deeper into the market you’ll find shops that sell trekking sandals, sneakers, hats and backpacks. There’s also a small IT section where you can pick up selfie sticks, WIFI dongles and phone accessories. You can buy credit for your phone in this part of the market. Towards the back is the large air-conditioned supermarket which is a very handy place to go for supplies. They sell everything from sunglasses and shampoo – to fresh vegetables and cooking utensils.
Opening hours: 08 – 17 O’clock
Location: Close to TAEC museum.
4. Morning Market
To discover fresh Lao ingredients, head to this market first thing in the morning where locals flock to buy fish, vegetables, bunches of herbs, pork, eggs, fruit, as well as a range of live animals including toads, chooks and critters. The Morning Market is an outdoor market, with most of the vendors selling their wares under large umbrellas. It’s a great place to buy packets of khaiphaen (riverweed), dried buffalo meat, banana chips and deep-fried bamboo shoots. Even if you are not interested in buying anything, it’s worth visiting to take photos of all the weird and wonderful things for sale.
Opening hours: 5am-11am.
Location: just behind Tourism Information Center.
5. Naviengkham Market
This market sells a similar range of goods to Phosi but is smaller in scale. It has a strip of fresh fruit sellers at the entrance where you can ride past on your bike and pick up some mangoes, bananas or papayas for your day. If you’re wanting to do some cooking, Naviengkham is a good market to go in the afternoon to buy vegetables, homemade rice noodles and meat. You can also pick up a range of clothing items – from flip flops, to frilly tops.
Opening hours: 11 – 18 O’clock
Location: on the 13th North Road close to LTC company.