Much like Vientiane, Luang Prabang trades in handicrafts, art, textiles and jewelry. Be sure to explore the Night Market on Sisavangvong Road and shops in the Old Chinese Quarter. The numerous gift shops around the town are good for picking up couture-style textiles and quaint household objects. For fresh produce like meat, vegetables and herbs, drop into Phosi Market. Note that the market culture of Laos, unlike more raucous Thailand, is devoid of the hard sell so don't expect badgering and bartering to the same degree.
Most Popular Shopping Venues in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Night Market
The Market is a nightly event that takes place between 17:00 and 23:00 beginning at Wat Mai and running along Sisavangvong Road to the town centre (Settathilat Road). The street is closed off to vehicles and the hill-tribe traders emerge with their various apparels, ceramics, bamboo, lamps, blankets, bed covers, handicrafts and silk scarves. Vendors often quote higher prices than when buying from the shops during day time, so make sure you haggle (politely) or shop around first.
Just before sunset, vendors start setting up their stalls on Sisavangvong Road. There are a total of four rows, running along the entire length of the street. Many vendors come from nearby Hmong Market, as it disperses right before sunset, and they bring along with them the same collection of ethnic handicrafts and trinkets that they were selling there. Embroidered bags and purses of various sizes and colours, screened ‘Beer Lao’ T-shirts, cotton pants and shirts, bed covers, woven scarves, opium pipes and accessories, paper lanterns – these are popular items you will see repeatedly as you stroll through the market. Keep your eyes open, though, for a handful of stalls popping up from time to time that offer something slightly different. Apart from the market vendors, shop-houses and hotels lining both sides of the road are also open for business. The range of products include handmade souvenirs, Lao coffee beans, homemade whiskeys, books, all the way to street-side noodle stalls tucked away in a small lane and hotel sidewalk cafés serving drinks and, of course, Beer Lao. For a serious meal, though, head over to the end of the market (where Sisavangvong Road meets Settathilat Road) and you will find the Night Food Market as well as food vendors down the narrow lane just next to it. Note that the market can get very crowded after 20:00.
Luang Prabang Night Market Opening Hours: 17:00-23:00 (depending on the weather) Location: Sivsavangvong Road to where it meets with Settathilat Road
Other Shopping Venues in Luang Prabang
Ban Lao Natural Products
Ban Lao is a fair trade shop selling handicrafts, textiles and fashion accessories. The design is a fusion of traditional and modern styles – all handmade from natural materials or natural dye. There’s also a small exhibition space for ikat textiles and other crafts by select local and international artists. The shop is located on the Mekong riverbank. Location: Ban Vat Nong, along the Mekong Tel: +856 30 514 0555
CAMA Crafts is a non-profit, self-help project that markets handicrafts made by Lao artisans, providing a sustainable method of income for village women that may otherwise be unavailable. The products are handmade using traditional patterns and techniques, which helps preserve the traditional needlework skills of Hmong and Lao women such as applique, cross stitch, embroidery and batik.
Caruso Lao offers high quality handcrafted home and fashion accessories. Everything is designed and fashioned together by hand in Laos itself. The store’s Canadian owner spent a large part of her life in the Hong Kong fashion industry before settling down in Luang Prabang in 1988. All products are crafted from wood or silk, and the impressive range includes wooden bowls, decorative Buddha heads, cushions, natural silk shawls, bed spreads, table runners, and more. Opening Hours: 09:00-21:00 Location: Sakkarine Road, Ban Vat Sene Tel: +856 71 254 574
This outdoor bazaar is where to go for all kinds of ethnic embroidered crafts. From the street, it may not look like much; but once inside, you will find labyrinths of stalls selling all things embroidered, from weaved bags, hill-tribe pants, hats and even underwear to bed covers, coin purses and other accessories. Once you hit a few rows, you will start to feel a certain sense of déjà vu. Opening Hours: morning until 16:30 Location: Sisavangvong Road
Kopnoi produces handmade fabrics from natural materials. Meaning 'little frog', it took the eco-conscious company over four years to develop the eco-dyed cotton apparel and put it on the market. The range includes clothes, jewelry, silk, accessories, spices and delicacies. Situated in Ban Aphay on the back side of Mount Phousi by the Nam Kham River, Kopnoi follows an ethical and tangible ethos, respecting the principles of fair trade. Opening Hours: 09:00-20:00 (Mon-Sat), 10:00-20:00 (Sun) Location: Sisavangvong Rd, in front of Luang Prabang Primary School Tel: +856 71 260 248
L’Etranger Books and Tea
Close to Nam Khan River, this two-storey wooden book café sells and trades second-hand books. The extensive collection spans many languages and subjects, including travel, art, culture, novels, Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang specific and much more. The upper level is a café offering some 70 varieties of teas and fruit shakes. The casual setup – low tables, floor cushions, paper lamps – evokes a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. There’s also a movie show every evening, starting around 19:00. But be sure to go early, as the place can get really packed. Opening Hours: 07:00-22:00 (Mon-Sat), 10:00-22:00 (Sun) Location: Phousi Road, Ban Aphay Tel: +856 71 212 880
Lisa Regale Fusion Gallery sells silk garments that are an original fusion of Lao traditional patterns and European styles. The shop opened in 2003 and was inspired by the beauty and potential of the silk Laos has to offer. Near Wat Siphouttabath, just arond the corner from Saynamkhan Gusthouse. Location: Near Wat Siphouttabath Address: Ban Xieng Thong 42/4, Luang Prabang Tel: +856-20 7771 972
Ma Te Sai
This boutique shop located on the main road (close to the Royal Pavilion) offers ethnic handicrafts and creative souvenirs fashioned from fabric, bamboo, recycled paper and other natural materials. There are also herbal teas, coffees, locally made whiskeys and a variety of locally grown rice. The shop aims to help promote Lao villager’s quality of life through their crafts, in line with its philosophy, ‘From the Village, for the Village’. Opening Hours: 08:00-21:00 Location: Ban Xieng Mouane, Sisavangvong Road Tel: +856 71 260 654
This inviting shop-house is located on the main road just south of the Old Chinese Quarter. It features handmade jewelry made from silver as well as precious and semi-precious gem stones, fashioned into distinct styles that blend local and modern designs. Pieces range from necklaces, bracelets and earrings to pendants, hair clips and other trinkets. Opening Hours: 08:30-21:00 Location: Sisavangvong Road
Ock Pop Tok
Ock Pop Tok (meaning ‘East meets West’) is a store selling hand-woven home textiles, cloth bags and scarves. It promotes fair trade and aims to empower local women through their crafts and development of artistic skills. In doing so, the store offers various textile workshops and classes as well as opening a crafts centre (in Ban Saylom, 2km south of town) for visitors who’d like to watch the artisans at work. There’s also a café overlooking the Mekong and four tastefully decked out theme villas tucked away in a garden. Opening Hours: 08:00-21:00 Location: Ban Vat Sene, Sakkarine Road Tel: +856 71 253 219
For a pleasant immersion in the local way of life, head over to Phosi Market on the outskirts of town. This open-air, indoor-outdoor market has everything imaginable, whether bags of ground chilies, buffalo feet, animal parts, meat, fruits, enamelware, ground spices, vegetables, fermented fish paste, cell phones, watches, backpacks, knives, and much, much more. The fresh market section is similar to the morning market in the city centre but is much larger in scale and variety of products. The sights, smells and colours are simply fascinating, and many visitors find that going once is not enough. Opening Hours: 07:00-17:00 Location: Photisalath Road (by the Mekong), south of Phou Vao Road
Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre
Just behind Dara Market, this two-storey heritage shop-house is a museum and resource centre promoting Lao ethnic diversity. It features cultural exhibitions, showcasing traditional arts and lifestyles of diverse ethnic groups. Adopting fair trade and sustainability principles, the museum shop supports over 500 handicrafts producers and their families from all over Laos, with a selection of beaded necklaces, jewellery, embroidered belts, backpacks and children’s accessories. There’s also a small café, Le Patio Café, where you can enjoy savoury snacks and coffees. Opening Hours: 09:00-18:00 (Tues-Sun) Location: Kitsalat Road, Ban Khamyong Tel: +856 71 253 364
Shopping in Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang Night market