How to Shop Like a Pro at the Luang Prabang Night Market

Tired Southeast Asian travelers will be amazed at how laid-back the Luang Prabang night market is in Laos.

Compared to the high-pressure advertisements and crowding you'll experience in retail districts elsewhere (Hanoi's Old Quarter and Bangkok's Chatuchak Market come to mind), the night market feels pretty quiet.

Luang Prabang Night Market: The Complete Guide

Hmong and Laotian market vendors sit on mats with their wares scattered around them, showering tourists with bonhomie without the lingering guilt of their peers elsewhere in the region.

And unlike most of the region's commodity markets, this market offers a good proportion of authentic, locally made products; after all, Luang Prabang was a long commercial crossroads, defined by the Mekong River, an easy boat ride from the villages. countryside.

Location

Luang Prabang Night Market takes place every night, right in the center of the city, on Sisavangvong Road, starting at the Kingkitsalat Road junction/post office and ending just after the National Museum.

During the night market, this section of Sisavangvong Road is blocked from traffic. The individual market stalls begin to be set up at 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. most of the stalls are ready to operate at 10 pm in the market. closing time.

About 300 individual vendors place rugs on the sidewalk under colored plastic tarps to keep out the rain. (In summer, the space under the tarps gets quite hot with the lights and the temperature of the passing bodies.)

If you are not staying in the historic district of Luang Prabang (where getting to the night market is simply a matter of walking to one end), you will likely be taken by car or tuk-tuk to the Kingkitsalat Road junction, from where you can walk and explore at your leisure.

Security for shoppers: Luang Prabang is generally safe, with little danger aside from pickpockets or the rare opportunistic theft. The usual precautions (keeping your belongings close, awareness of the situation) will suffice.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about the Luang Prabang Night Market in Laos

Source: Kara and Nate

Shopping at the night market

Luang Prabang's past and present come together in night market merchandise, reflecting the city's history as a union of commerce and politics in this part of Southeast Asia, and the plethora of cheap Chinese goods across the street. border.

Vendors from Hmong and Tai arrive in droves every afternoon, bringing hand-dyed fabrics and indigo from home looms. The citizens of Luang Prabang are opposed to bringing in silks and handicrafts. Enterprising artisans cannibalize metal from bombs and other munitions left over from the Vietnam War, recycling them into bottle openers, jewelry and a variety of knickknacks.

Some stalls sell "lao-lao" rice liquor, served in bottles with snakes and scorpions preserved in the liquid. Sellers offer doses before selling the entire bottle. (Read about drinking in Southeast Asia.)

The unlikely variety of local and imported products on offer, including paintings, coffee beans, spices, shoes, bags, jewelry, ceramics, wood carvings, T-shirts, skirts, toys, scarves and underwear, all come at a surprisingly low cost. . easily get prices half of those of comparable products at night markets elsewhere.

Before you buy, take a look at these tips that can help make your trip a pleasant one:

  • Don't haggle: You can haggle over prices, but whether you should is another matter. Most of Laos derives relatively little benefit from its products; Furthermore, most of them come from humble origins. While haggling can be a gamble for some buyers, it just doesn't seem right to deprive traders who have much less life than you. (Plus, the prices are already low to begin with.)
  • Bring your own shopping bags: Southeast Asia has a big problem with plastic pollution, and by taking disposable plastic bags from suppliers for your purchases, you are helping to make the problem worse. Bring your own reusable shopping bag and stop adding garbage to the pile.
  • Look for the handmade sticker in Luang Prabang: Local artisans came together in 2012 to create a quality brand for their authentic Lao handicrafts. The circular decal handmade in Luang Prabang can be found on the night market products proudly created by the locals, including ceramics, silver jewelry, lacquers, silks, and cotton scarves. The presence of the adhesive guarantees the buyer the high quality and authentic brand of the item.

Street food night market

Laos food bargains occupy a narrow alley near the entrance to the night market, perfectly located for visitors who want to start their night of shopping with a meal or for weary shoppers looking for something before heading back to their hotels.

The stalls sell cooked a la carte and buffet-style meals, all served on makeshift tables and benches along the alley, leaving enough room for visitors to squeeze in among themselves.

The menu covers the extensive menu of local Laos favorites, including the following:

  • Roast meats: Laos are barbecue veterans, noted for the copious amounts of ping kai (roast chicken) and ping pa (grilled river fish) sold on the food street. Each serving is prepared as you request: skewered or glued with bamboo sticks over burning charcoal and then served hot.
  • Lao Sausages: Luang Prabang's approach to Laos sausages involves a healthy serving of fatty pork and sticky rice flavored with herbs and pepper.
  • Coconut pancakes: Small plates filled with khao nom krok are prepared and sold on the street, served freshly cooked and hot three-fold on banana leaf plates. If you're looking for a cheap stimulant, an added sugar boost that won't interrupt your shopping, look no further.
  • Vegetarian Food: In the land of papaya salad (tam mak houng), it should come as no surprise that vegetarians have plenty of options in Luang Prabang street food. Two different veggie stands sell free buffet options for just LAK 15,000 (about $ 1.75) per plate.
  • Fruit Smoothies: The most visible drink stalls in the market can be found at the far end of Food Street; the corner in front of the National Museum is home to vendors selling smoothies made with fruits such as mango, dragon fruit, and lemon. These stalls are perfectly located to provide post-shopping refreshments for weary tourists.

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