Shopping in Vientiane provides visitors a decent array of choices in the city. Like most South East Asian cities, Vientiane has an abundance of markets with dozens of local arts, crafts, silks, and textile products to choose from.
Hand-woven silk by the locals is an especially popular buy in Vientiane. Female travelers go crazy over the scarves of the locals as they are offered in many different styles, patterns and colors. The city also has a good range of carved wooden products, antiques and Lao art. Prices in the city are average but you should always remember that haggling is expected in most of the markets. Here are some of the best shopping markets found in Vientiane:
- Talaat Sao – Talaat Sao or the Morning Market is a huge market where everything and anything is sold at affordable prices. It is especially popular for its arts and crafts with silverworks being another good buy as well. Being the largest and the most popular market in the capital, it is but common for it to be overly crowded during the day. Contrary to its name, the market is open in the afternoon as well. If you wish to visit the Morning Market, the best time to visit is during the early morning when it’s not too hot and crowded.
- Samsenthai Road – This road is known to be a main destination for tourists as it is located a couple of blocks away from the Mekong River and has many attractions and shopping options to choose from. Aside from the famous Wat Si Muang, mini-marts and smaller outlets adorn this long road. It is also best known for selling wine from countries such as France, Italy and Australia.
- Setthathirat Road– Running parallel to Samsenthai, the Setthathirat Road does not disappoint as well. Head to this avenue for your choice of handicrafts with emphasis on cotton and silk textiles.
- Nam Phu Fountain – Found near Setthathirat Road, the Nam Pu Fountain is the best place to pick up silks authentically made in Laos. This area also has many small markets, stalls and convenience stores. Aside from being a market, it also has a good selection of restaurants, cafes and bakeries along with a number of hotels and guesthouses.
Most markets tend to open early in the morning as they close late in the afternoon. By 5pm, most shopping districts are generally deserted so make sure to schedule your shopping trip early in the morning. If you are pressed for time, the most convenient place to do last minute shopping is at the Morning Market to buy your share of souvenirs and silks. Don’t forget to haggle everything down even in the silk boutiques. Prices are generally consistent all year but the low season of the city may bring even lower prices.
The major shopping areas in Vientiane are found very near each other, which makes shopping in Vientiane a breeze. The shopping areas of the city are compact so it will be easy to browse your way along the entire street without spending too much energy.