Where To Buy the Best Souvenirs in Vientiane
Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is also one of its major tourist destinations. Visitors from all over the world enjoy its laidback colonial streets, impressive temples, and sunset views over the Mekong River.
With its charming night market, traditional silk shops, and modern shopping malls, it’s also a top location in Laos for shopping. It’s worth stocking up on a few souvenirs in Vientiane before you head home or off on further travels.
Mekong Riverside Night Market
For tourists, the Vientiane Night Market is the most popular shopping destination and is also a great place to grab a bite to eat while you browse through the stalls.
Like many of the markets in Laos, the night market is a more relaxing experience than you might expect from tourist markets in Southeast Asia. You can enjoy your shopping without being hounded by pushy vendors or feeling claustrophobic in the crowds.
While there are a few handicrafts here, the selection consists of mostly electronics and counterfeit clothing. This is also the best place to pick up t-shirts, paintings, cheap silk scarves and jewelry, and other knick-knacks and souvenirs. Bargaining is expected – start with 50% less than the first price offered by the vendor.
Open 6 – 11pm every night
Located on Quai Fa Ngum, on the north bank of the Mekong
Phaeng Mai Gallery
One of the best places in town to shop for silk, the Phaeng Man gallery is Lao-owned and run on a co-operative basis so the weavers are paid fairly. You can see the workers producing silk and weaving and dyeing textiles in the workshop and browse the gallery shop on the first floor. There’s also an exhibition of traditional Lao clothing.
Items here aren’t cheap, but the quality is excellent and you won’t mind paying a little more after seeing the work that goes into each piece. There’s no pressure to buy if you just want to have a look around. Credit cards are accepted.
Phaeng Man is a little out of town and can be hard to find – it’s best to ask a tuk-tuk to take you there in 10 minutes from Crowne Plaza Vientiane.
10 Nongbouathong Tai Village, Sikottabong District
Talat Sao Mall
The Talat Sao market used to specialize in jewelry and antiques, but is now a modern mall. There are still a few traditional fabric merchants and stalls selling wooden carvings outside and the modern air-conditioned stores are inside, including a large supermarket and cinema.
Talat Sao offers probably the biggest shopping selection in Vientiane and the air conditioning offers a welcome reprieve from the heat outside. It’s a good place to head if you’re looking for electronics, cheap fashion, or practical items. It’s best to visit early in the morning if you want to browse the more traditional outdoor stalls.
Open 8am – 5.30pm (morning market opens at 7am)
Ave Lane Xang
Nam Phou Fountain Shops
In the area around the French-style Nam Phou fountain and square, you’ll find a selection of upmarket bars, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and wine shops. The area is most lively in the evening, when the fountain is lit up in rainbow colors.
Close by, you’ll find Monument Books with a good selection of English books and magazines, and several tailors, jewelry stores, and fashion boutiques.
Interwoven jewelry store is a nice place to buy gifts and provides safe employment for Laotian women. Elegant Boutique on Panghkam Street sells silk and cotton tailored clothing for men and women and silver jewelry made by people from the hill tribes. Lao Fine Arts Handicrafts Jewelry offers unique pieces crafted from wood, coconut, and silver.
Nam Phou Fountain, Rue Pangkham
Little House Café
For a different shopping experience, Little House Café is a place where you can enjoy authentic Lao coffee and pick up some local handicrafts at the same time. The café is owned and operated by H.P.E. (Handicraft Promotion Enterprise), one of ethical traders in Vientiane.
Located on Manthatourat Road, this nice cozy café offers one of the best coffee in town. All of coffee in the shop is ethically sourced from Bolaven Plateau, the coffee-growing region in southern Laos, supporting local farmers. The café also sells bags of coffee beans which makes a perfect gift for your coffee-lover friends.
A selection of handicrafts offered here includes colorful embroidered bags, placemats and pillow cases. The profit from selling these handicrafts will go straight to Lanten tribespeople who delicately stitch each piece of art by hand.
Open 8.30 am – 6.30 pm, Tuesday - Sunday