1. Ethnic Handicraft Market
Bundles of brightly colored scarves pile up on counters while superb silk wall hangings, shawls and traditional Lao skirts flutter on the walls of the many stalls in this market. Colorful, finely woven silk predominates as weaving is the most widely practiced craft in Laos. As each province and ethnic minority uses distinctive styles and patterns, there is a vast array of choices on offer. Also available is a small selection of Western-style clothes made from local fabrics, as well as Hmong embroidery and cutwork, chunky silver jewelry and lots of bags.
Address: Khouviang Road Next to the main post office Vientiane
Opening hours: 8am-4pm daily.
2. Talat Khuadin
The large covered section of this market houses dry goods including clothing, fabrics, accessories and housewares. Prices tend to be cheaper than the nearby Talat Sao, and it is a good place to pick up bargain jeans and tops, as well as hair accessories and costume jewelry. Wander out from the covered section and you will soon discover why it is nicknamed the "mud market"--and why platform shoes are so popular in this country. The sprawling back section is where food and fresh produce is sold, including meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, traditional medicine products and tobacco.
Address: Corner of Khouvieng Road and Mahosot Street Next to the central bus station Vientiane
Opening hours: 7am-4pm daily.
3. That Luang Market
While this sprawling market has the usual selection of clothes, shoes, souvenirs, household goods, and even a hairdresser, the most interesting part is the fresh produce section, although it is not for the squeamish or for vegetarians! Women wielding cleavers hack apart pigs, their stalls strewn with chunks of meat and bowls of intestines, and even whole faces. In other sections you will find platters piled with chicken heads and feet and bowls full of live frogs, fish, eels and snails. Stacks of fresh herbs, coconuts and dried chillies add a contrastingly pleasant aroma to the atmosphere.
Address: Nong Bone Road 500 meters northeast of That Luang Temple Vientiane
Opening hours: 8am-4pm daily.
4. Talat Sao (Morning Market)
Comprised of two floors, this is the largest covered market in Vientiane. There is a vast selection of handicrafts, woven fabrics, jewelry, antique ornaments and electronic and household goods for sale here. Expatriates, locals and tourists alike congregate to buy their luxury items as this is as close to a department store as you will find in Laos. Although the prices may be higher than in other places, the Morning Market has a convenient location with a great selection. Bargaining is essential.
Address: Lane Xang Avenue Corner of Khou Viang Street Vientiane
Opening hours: 8am-5pm daily.
1. Hmong Lao Handicraft Shop
Specializing in ethnic Hmong weaving and other traditional products, this simple store has a colorful selection decorating the walls of the entrance. Soft furnishings ranging from large bedspreads to cushion covers are plentiful. A full selection of traditional Hmong products, from clothing and jewelry to embroidery swatches and antique woven baskets, is also available. This is a comprehensive store for those who prefer the more colorful style of the ethnic Hmong people.
Address: 106/4 Samsenthai Road Vientiane
Opening hours: 8am-10pm daily.
Telephone: +856 21 212 200
2. Indochina Handicraft Shop
The beautifully decorated storefront gives a turn of the century impression, which is reinforced by the dusty shelves which hold a myriad of framed paintings, photos, carvings, weavings, silver ornaments and watches. The dim lights and musty smells create further antique appeal and it is fun to browse through the many nooks and crannies. The store's content, however, is not all antique. As with all purchased items in Asia, be careful to ensure they are what they appear to be. The store specializes in antique watches and all prices here are negotiable.
Address: 8/197 Setthathirath Road Next to the Rose and Crown Pub Vientiane
Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily.
Telephone: +856 20 512 257 (mobile)
3. Mandalay Furniture
This serene, beautiful shop offers almost as much pleasure for the browser as for the serious buyer. The stock includes a selection of French colonial-style furniture handmade from local timbers and upholstered in lovely French fabrics. All the pieces are finished with fine attention to detail and are built to last a lifetime, but they are not cheap. Shoppers will also discover an array of lamps, paintings and antique boxes to complement their furniture finds. Overseas shipping can be arranged.
Address: Francois Nginn Street Opposite the Tai Pan Hotel Vientiane
Opening hours: 9am-12.30pm; 1.30pm-5.30pm Mon-Fri. 9am-1pm; 2pm-4.30pm Sat.
Telephone: +856 21 218 736