Top 14 Lovely Gifts to Buy in Laos - Laos Shopping Guides

14, Apr


Laos has long been considered a potential jewel of Southeast Asian tourism and one of the most charming countries in the region; however, it is also the least visited country in the region compared to others such as Thailand or Vietnam

Although the country has a humble size and no coastline, it is this feature that allows Laos to possess a unique mountainous culture and natural heritage. Since it has various values to offer, Laos is definitely a great pin on the map of wanderers from around the world. Here are the Top 14 Lovely Gifts to Buy in Laos to take home from this vibrant and unique country.

1. Brocade Products that Represent Highland Culture

As the land of Laos is landlocked with no coastal areas, a great majority of Laotian people are highland ethnic groups. Hence, brocade weaving and textiles are the most worthwhile souvenirs when in Laos. You will be able to find some of the finest brocade patterns in the world, handmade by skilled women via traditional tools and devices. Some products even visualize images of Laos, such as pagodas, Buddhist stupas, towers, and elephants, that represent the vibrant culture and history of this country.

Types and price ranges of brocade products depend on the size and the hard work behind the making process. They may vary from small scarves, pillowcases, and handkerchiefs to fascinating large tapestries. 


► Recommended places to buy Lao brocade products and textiles:

  • Saoban, 97/1 Chao Anou Road, Vientiane
  • Mulberries, Rue Nokeokoummane, Vientiane
  • CAMAcrafts, Nokeokoummane Street, Ban Mixay, Vientiane

Also, consider paying a visit to the Lao Textile Museum, Vientiane to learn more about these traditional products of the country.

2. “Sinh” – The National Costume of Laos

Whenever experiencing an exotic culture, it would be a mistake not to learn about the traditional costume that plays an important role of symbolizing the history and heritage of the country. In Laos, “sinh” is the name of the traditional wraparound skirt of women, which is absolutely a gorgeous wearable work of art. The skirt's structure is simple and can be worn on any modern formal occasion, like wedding parties or ceremonies.

Thanks to this, you may choose your own type of fabric and pattern and order a tailored “sinh” made within a short amount of time. The materials of “sinh” are mainly silk and brocade fabric. Also, the styles and patterns vary, so you can pick the best option for your beloved women at home. Don’t mind having the “sinh” tailored to best fit your body build.


► Recommended places to buy  Lao “Sinh”:

  • Talat Khua Din, adjacent to the Vientiane central bus station
  • Talat Sao (morning market) in Vientiane

3. Laos Silk Weaving

Apart from brocade, silk is also another fascinating woven art of Laos. For those interested in traditional handicrafts, a morning visit to the silk weaving village of Ban Xang Khong on the outskirts of Luang Prabang and learning what to do with the old looms should be a refreshing experience. The technique of silk weaving has been passed down to generations of Laos and the textiles are no less stunning than any other country's silk. Silk products range from small purses and handkerchiefs to gorgeous ‘sinh’ skirts with complex patterns. This is definitely a must - buy thing when traveling to Laos.


Recommended places to buy Laos silk weaving

  • Ban Xang Khong village, Luang Prabang
  • Luang Prabang night market

4. Natural Dyed Items

The hilltribes of Laos still preserved their traditional techniques, producing dyes from natural ingredients pretty well. The complex recipes for making these permanent fabric dyes have been handed down generations after generations. The ingredients are various: leaves that make turquoise, fresh barks to produce light green, and resin from insects to make a deep crimson colour. 


► Recommended places to buy beautiful Lao dyed items:

  • Night market in Luang Prabang or Vientiane
  • Ock Pok Tok Textiles Stores and Crafts Centres, 125/10 Ban Saylom, Luang Prabang, Lao 

5. Silverwares and Jewelleries 

Buddhism is the dominant religion in Laos, besides Laos traditional beliefs and customs. This unique cultural combination is presented vibrantly on Laos tapestries, brocade, and of course, just like other Southeast Asian countries, metal jewelleries as well. The designs and production methods of silverware and gorgeous jewelleries can surely impress any travellers. Check-out the traditional dok pi khune design of silver jewelleries as this is originally created for Laos nobles and royal members.

You can easily purchase many types of silver items including earrings, bracelets and necklaces, or even silver tableware at many shops and handicraft markets in Laos. Additionally, silver and gold are also used to create the belt worn with Lao traditional “sinh'' so you may consider some extra silver pieces when looking for this costume for your beloved women.


► Recommended places to buy silverwares and jewelleries:

  • Naga Creation Art Jewelry, Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang
  • Talat Sao market, Vientiane

6. Alms Giving Bowls

Another exotic choice for souvenirs is the Buddhist alms giving bowls, which may serve as decorations or fancy gifts for your friends and relatives. The bowls (known as ‘bat’ in Lao) are used in Buddhist ceremonies such as tak-bat, weddings or baci ceremonies to hold offerings of sticky rice and snacks intended for giving to Buddhist monks. The materials vary from stainless steel, aluminium or even higher-classed metal like silver and gold. The fascinating design and quality of these bowls make ideal presents to bring home from Laos.

You can find Lao alms giving bowls in many markets and gift shops around Laos.


7. Wood Carvings

As a landlocked country, wood is a basic resource of Laos, therefore, the art of producing wood carvings has been one of the prides of Lao people for generations. Artisans can engrave difficult details on stone, bone or wood (which is the most popular material) via wonderful techniques and traditional tools. Wood Carvings can be found widely across the country, especially in local shops and markets in Luang Prabang, Vientiane or Pakse. 


8. Special Beer Lao T – Shirt

To the people Beer Lao is not just a brand of beverage but a symbol of culture and the country. A pretty funny item related to this that is widely sold across the country is the Beerlao T-shirt. Consider this a means of expressing the spirit of beer lovers. Come visit night markets or local shops to purchase these as a souvenir for just a few dollars. 


9. Coffee

Thanks to its tropical atmosphere and highland territories, Laos produces one of the best types of coffee beans in the world. Laos Arabica and Robusta are well - known for its incredibly high quality and natural taste. Coffee beans can be easily purchased in grocery or liquor stores across the country with a fair price of around 35,000 kip per kilo (about US$3.5). The coffee may come in fancy little souvenir - type bags or in completely unadorned cellophane bags tied with a rubber band; however, the flavour is either way wonderful.


The best place to buy coffee products in Laos is in Bolaven Plateau - the coffee heaven of Laos.

10. Saa Paper Products

“Saa” paper is a specialty of Xieng Khouang and Luang Prabang provinces of Laos, made from the bark of the mulberry tree (“saa” in Laos). The paper was at first used to wrap opium products during the French colonial era in Laos. But today it is made into beautiful vintage gift wrap, notebooks, bags congratulation cards or even lovely paper lanterns. 

Despite being made from trees, it is actually an eco-friendly product because no trees are harmed during the production process. The mulberry tree sheds its barks naturally as it grows. The bark is then mixed into a wet pulp and spread on a wooden frame to let dry under the sunlight. 

Recommended places to buy saa paper products in Laos is Vientiane Night Market and Luang Prabang Night Market. 


11. Organic Beauty Products

As a tropical country in the South East Asian region, Laos has great conditions to grow herbs, spices, tropical fruits and fragrant flowers, making it the perfect place to look for some wonderful natural, organic bath and beauty products. Organic products range from handmade soaps, lip balms, shampoos and natural essential oils and healthy herbal teas. As mulberry is popular in Laos, many products from mulberries follow such as natural bath products or red mulberry tea. 


► Check out some recommended places to buy organic products:

  • T’Shop Lai Gallery, Chao Anou Road (behind Wat Inpeng), Vientiane
  • Mulberries, Rue Nokeokoummane, Vientiane

12. Pottery & Porcelain Wares 

Like Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, destinations in Laos also have handicraft villages that are solely devoted to traditional pottery products and porcelain wares. Small lovely items such as urns, tiles, lamps and other decorative items would make amazing gifts to remind you of the time in Laos. They have services for you to first hand observe the making process of these pottery items in workshops and villages. Even the most common items come in perfect quality thanks to the complex skills of mixing, moulding and drying clay. Unlike other countries, in Laos, women are the principal generations to produce traditional pottery. 

Check out the pottery making village of Ban Chan in Luang Prabang. Otherwise, these items can be found in any souvenir shops and markets in Laos. 


13. Vintage Posters and Art Paintings 

What could be a better way to visualize the culture and lifestyle of Lao people than pictures and paintings. Vintage posters and postcards representing the culture and history (especially colonial aesthetic style) of Laos can be found anywhere in the country. Paintings of local artists are worth buying as well. They are sold widely at night markets and souvenirs shops with variable sizes and price ranges. 


You can find this items at:

  • Le Comptoir, 073/19 rue Hengboun Noi, Ban Haisok, Vientiane
  • Vientiane/ Luang Prabang Night Market 

14. Souvenir Made from Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)

Travellers can find rows of souvenir stalls on the streets or night markets in Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos whose items are shiny metal keychains or jewelleries. But they are even more than that because the locals make those items out of literal bombs. During the Vietnam War, almost 260 million American bombs wrecked Laos between 1964 and 1973, a third of which went off and remain underground in Laos today.

Souvenirs from unexploded ordnance are seen as a means to escape from the poverty caused by the war, and a way to remember the past as well. 

Although the material source of these metals can not be verified, some say that they are not bothered very much and it is amazing to turn a war crime into such lovely items. Hence the price of these keychains, bracelets or table cutleries should not be too expensive. 

These UXO souvenirs can be bought on streets or night markets in Luang Prabang, of course they can be blended with fake ones. However, the one place that you can purchase authentic UXO items is the UXO LAOS Visitor Centre in Luang Prabang where they collect handmade products of Ban Ha Hine which is well - known for its blacksmiths.


► Some Useful Laos Travel Guides for Shopping in Laos

Besides our recommended places, souvenirs and gifts can be purchased easily throughout the country, including the capital of Vientiane and other provinces of Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Champasak, Savannakhet and Pakse. However, avoid buying Buddha images since removing any Buddha images (both antique and new) from the territory is illegal in Laos. Also, avoid purchasing souvenirs such as the potent Lao snake and scorpion whiskey or other items which come from animals, as this encourages the entrapment and destruction of Lao wildlife and natural habitats. 

Local shops and markets are never bad options when looking for lovely things to bring home. Like any other countries, whilst some stalls are fixed in price, you can expect to bargain for an acceptable price for both sides. Buying directly from local handi craftsmen and artisans is suggested as well, to make your experience even more memorable and personal. Be mindful of these notes above should ensure you the best shopping experience when in Laos. 

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