Night Market in Luang Prabang, Laos Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Laos, my homeland. And one of the most memorable moments was the time that I was in the Northern Province in the city of Luang Prabang. The city of Luang Prabang is situated in the semi-mountainous region in Laos where the Mekong River flows graciously through it. During the day, you will see tourists of all sorts, old and young, from various European countries like France, Denmark, and Finland to name a few.
There were also tourists from neighboring countries as well such as Thailand, Korea, and China. I had great pleasure talking with many of these tourists asking how they were enjoying themselves in Luang Prabang. One of the most interesting and amazing moments of all during my stay in Luang Prabang was after sunset in the main four-way intersection of the city. This is when the town comes alive with a whole new picture. It is the night market where all sorts of merchants coming from various nearby villages and towns come and set up their market to sell.
The various merchants have all sorts of different items to be sold in the market such as jewelry, arts and crafts, and traditional clothing all uniquely made and handcrafted according to it’s localities of village and tribe. There are also many food stalls and some great restaurants that cater to locals and tourists along the two aisles of the closed off street of the night market. As I walked through the cool tropical November night in the busy street of the night market, I was very much in awe by the various souvenirs, cloths, bags, traditional cloths, jewelry, and paintings of various qualities and prices.
So, I stopped by one of the many vendors and took a look at some jewelry. A particular bracelet caught my attention and I was drawn to its beauty and how it was intricately made and handcrafted. Naturally, I then proceeded to ask about the price and the friendly merchant quoted 700,000 kip. We bargained a bit because that was part of the Lao culture, interaction, and socializing. I had a lot of fun practicing my bargaining skill.
After all the bargaining and small talk, I managed to walk away with the beautifully handcrafted silver bracelet for 500,000 kip which was an equivalent to 5 US dollars during that time. I was a happy camper. There were so many interesting items on display as I walked on through the night. On display were many types of textiles, exquisite ceramics, antiques, and paintings, quilts, shoes, and rare spices found only in a particular part of Northern Laos. As I continued on, another interesting item caught my attention.
It was a collection of various Buddhist texts written in Pali (a revised version of the ancient Sanskrit) on dried banana leaves or palm branches. I thought that was really unique and cool so I bought a set which cost me 400,000 kip. After all the walking and bargaining, I grew very hungry so, I stopped by one of the many food stalls. There were spring rolls, curries, barbeques, vegetables and many other dishes for sale. The stall where I stopped to eat offered an all you can fit onto a plate for 200,000 kip which was about 2 US dollars.
After all that the food I ate for 2 dollars I felt really bad so I left another 3 dollars as tip. The vendor was really appreciative by my gesture but looked puzzled at the same time as to why I did that. Shopping in the Luang Prabang night market was a really exciting and fun experience. But it wasn’t just shopping; it was also just wandering around chatting with the vendors and locals have enriched my Lao cultural experience. If you are visiting Laos, I really recommend you to experience the Luang Prabang night market.