Some Must Buy Items at the Vientiane Night Market
Must Buy Items at the Vientiane Night Market
One of the most famous attractions in Vientiane is the night market. It's as famous for its location as it is for what it offers in the way of goods and food. The night market is located in Chao Anouvong Park, along the Mekong River, which forms the southern boundary of Vientiane. Chao Anouvong Park is extremely popular with the city’s residents, as it provides the best view and atmosphere to watch the sunset over the river. There is a promenade along the river and through the park that serves as a gathering place, a place to exercise, and a place to relax with a drink and a snack at the end of the day. Sunset is also around the time that the night market comes to life. The night market is open from 6 PM to 10 PM every night of the year. Although, when it's raining heavily, there isn't much action as most stallholders won't open.
Lao Street Food Attractions
If you’re visiting the market explicitly to sample the street food, then it’s worth knowing that the night market doesn’t have street food stalls on the grounds. However, wherever there’s an attraction and crowds of people gathering, you can count on food sellers showing up and doing a brisk business. The street food stalls are all along the Quai Fa Ngum. This is the busy and colorful street that runs along the riverfront next to the park. If you want to eat while you browse the night market, simply buy your food from any of the vendors and then take it into the park with you. Some of the must-try street foods of Laos include Larb, Khao Jee, and Khanom Khuu. Larb is the unofficial national dish of Laos. You can find it being prepared in any restaurant and on every street in the city. It's a minced meat salad, where the meat is either raw or cooked. Add some lime juice, ground toasted rice, fish sauce, mint leaves, garlic, chili and spring onion, and you have larb. Eat it with some sticky rice and some sliced cucumber or carrots, and you have a delicious and filling sour and spicy meal. Laos love their sticky rice. A container of it is generally on the table at every meal. In the past, eating it on the go was problematic, thankfully someone came up with the genius invention of Khao Jee. Khao Jee is sticky rice that's been formed into patties on a stick, brushed with egg and then grilled over a fire. The egg helps them stay in one piece and imparts a delicious crunch to the outside of the patty. They're simple, but addictive. Khanom Khuu is the Lao version of the donut. Although you’ll probably first encounter these as you’re browsing the street food vendors outside the night market, they’re also a favorite breakfast food, often enjoyed with a cup of rich Lao coffee. They're not as sweet as the donuts you're probably used to, but they're absolutely delicious.
Clothing and Shoes
The Vientiane Night Market stalls sell mostly lower-quality, practical items, but sometimes that’s all you really need. Travelers are constantly leaving things on buses, in hotel rooms, and on airplanes. A night market presents the perfect opportunity to replace all those lost items with cheap replacements that will get you through the rest of your trip. Lost your flip-flops? The night market is the cheapest place to find replacements in a myriad of styles and colors. If you feel you need a little more protection than your expensive Teva sandals are providing, the night market is also a good place to buy cheap sneakers or other closed-toe shoes. Shorts are another thing that you can’t get enough of in a tropical climate. They get dirty and sweaty, and the two pairs you brought with you from home may just not be enough. T-shirts are another great purchase. They tell the world where you’ve been, and you’ll find t-shirts that provide you with lots of bragging rights for as little as 1.50 US. Beer Lao T-shirts also make great souvenirs, and polo shirts have become popular with travelers who feel they need to look a bit more presentable at times, but still want a short-sleeve cotton shirt in the tropics.
Electronics and Hardware
Who hasn't left a phone charger in their hotel room wall when they’ve checked out? With the world relying on their smartphones these days, the night market is the place to find items to help you stay connected with friends and family. Protecting your phone is also important when traveling, and the stalls offer phone cases for every make and model. The night market is also the place to find sewing kits and repair items that help you keep yourself and your belongings in one piece while traveling. These are things no one thinks about until they need them, and the Vientiane Night Market is just the place to find them.
Appreciate the Atmosphere
Even if you feel the night market has nothing to offer you (except the food), browsing the stalls is a fun and colorful way to interact with the people of Vientiane. While engaging in some light-hearted haggling over prices, you’ll find that the vendors can be a lot of fun, and most of them speak at least a little English. Visit the Vientiane Night Market on your next trip to Vientiane to experience the real Laos. It’s an inexpensive night out, and you may just come away from it with fond memories of the characters you meet.