Just about anything made in Laos is available for purchase in Vientiane, including hill-tribe crafts, jewellery, traditional textiles and carvings. The main shopping areas in town are Talat Sao (Morning Market), the eastern end of Th Samsenthai (near the Asian Pavilion Hotel), Th Pangkham and along Th Nokeo Khumman.
HANDICRAFTS, ANTIQUES & ART
Several shops along Th Samsenthai, Th Pangkham and Th Setthathirat sell Lao and Thai tribal and hill-tribe crafts. The Lao goods are increasingly complemented by products from Vietnam and Thailand, such as lacquer work and Buddha images. Many of the places listed under Textiles and Clothing (right) also carry handicrafts and antiques.
Handicraft Products of EthnicGroups
Located at Th Khu Vieng, beside the PTT office and opposite Talat Sao, this market style place sells handicrafts from around Laos. The quality is variable, but at the least this is a good place to get an idea what is out there and how much it costs.
Shop Lai Galerie
Tel: 223178. Add: Thin Paeng. Opening hours: 8.30 am-6pm, Mon-Sat.
This beautiful shop is well worth a look if you’re interested in modern and traditional art in a range of media, furniture and interesting handicrafts. The owner is committed to promoting fair trade products.
Tel: 241401- Add: 118/2 Th Setthathiot
This shop has a wide range of post- cards, cards, posters and books, and a few small souvenirs.
Tel: 213467. Add: 102 Th Chanta Khumman. Opening hours: 8am-9pm Mon-Sat
Kanchana carries an extensive selection of Lao silk (the best is out the back) and can arrange visits to their Lao Textile Museum (open 10 am to 4pm).
Tel: 244384. Add: Th Setthathirat. Opening hours 9am – 8pm Mon-Sat, 10am-7pm Sun
This tastefully presented three-storey shop has an eclectic range of local and imported handicrafts and clothes – from miniskirts and bikinis made from H’mong weavings to lacquer portrait of Ho Chi Minh.
Most of the jewellery shops are along Samsenthai and trade primarily in gold and silver. Among the better options:
Sai Gon Bijoux
Tel: 214783. Add: ThSamsenthai, which also repairs jewelley.
Tel: 212680. Add: Th Samsenhai, which deals in precious stones as well.
TEXTILES & CLOTHING
Downtown Vientiane is littered with stores selling textiles to tourists. Th Nokeo Khumman is the epicentre. Talat Sao is also a good place to buy fabrics. You’ll find antique as well as modern fabrics, plus utilitarian items such as shoulder bags (some artfully const around squares of antique fabric), cushions and pillows.
To see Lao weaving in action, seek out the weaving district of Ban Nong Buathong northeast of the town centre in Muang Chanthabuli. About 20 families (many originally trom Sam Neua in Hua Phan Proi live and work here, including a couple of households that sell textiles directly to the public.
The Phang Mat Gallery
Tel: 217341. Add: 117 Nong Buathong. Opening hours: 10 am – 6pm.
This is a white, two-stilt house, and among the best. It’s out past National Circus – most tuk-tuk drivers to it and will charge about US$2 one way.
Carol Cassidy Lao Textiles
Tel: 212123. Add: 84-86 Th Nokeo Khumman. 8 am-noon & 2-5pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat, or by appointment.
Lao Textiles sells high-end contemporary original-design fabrics inspired by older weaving patterns, motifs and technique American designer, Carol Cassidy, employs Lao weavers who work out the back of the attractive old French-Lao house. They internationally known, with prices to match.
Tel: 223008; Add: Nam phu street
The owner, a French-Vietnamese-dress designer with Paris fashion-school experience, manage to fuse Lao and Western styles into some attractive designs at reasonable prices.
Tel: 212191. 9 am – 5 pm, Mon- Sat.
This is another good place to see weaving and dying in action.
Tel: 214 410. Add: Thsatthathirat Street, 9am – 8 pm Mon – Sat.
This store sells textiles and clothes made in the Houey Hong Vocational Training Center for Women.
Other stores worth a look include:
Khampan Lao Handicraft
Tel: 222000, 8 am- 9pm
Tel: 241217. Website: www.mulberries.org, 10 am – 6pm Mon – Sat.
Add: Th Lan Xang¸ Opening hours: 7am-4pm
Vientiane biggest market is a sprawling collection of stall offering fabrics, ready-made clothes, cutlery, toiletries, bedding, hard- patches, as well as electronic goods and just bout anything else imaginable. In the centre of the area is a large building that houses the Vientiane Department Store. Most houses the Vientiane Department Store. Most of the existing structure was built in the 1960s, but like so much else in Laos Talat Sao is in period of change. A huge new Malaysian-backed market should have opened next door by the time you arrive, bringing ‘modernity’ and homogenizations to Vientiane in equal measure. Exactly how this affects the existing market remains to be seen.
Add: Th KhuaVteng
East of Talat Sao beyond the bus terminal, this rustic market offer fresh produce and meats, as well as flower, tobacco and assorted other goods.
Talat Thong Khan Kham
Add: corner Th Khan Kham & Th Dong Miang
This market north of the centre is Ban Khan Kham is open all day, but the best in the morning. It’s one of the biggest in Vientiane and has virtually everything, including good food. Nearby are basket and pottery vendors.
Tags: Shopping in Vientiane