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Last updated : Nov 2009
Vientiane Shopping
Vientiane Shopping Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Generally, silver-work and textiles are cheaper in Luang Phabang (where they are made) than in Vientiane as Vientiane is not a bargain hunters' place. However, the Morning Market (Talat Sao) offers great deals on homespun cotton clothing ($2-5), lengths of silk and handicrafts. Good purchases include shoulder bags or nyam (inexpensive and functional), hand-woven pha biang (a long, scarf-like textile) and chequered pha khao ma (the knee-length men's sarong). The Lao Women's Union has a store called The Art of Silk, situated on Manthatoulat Road close to Wat Xieng Nyeun, offering great deals on cotton cloth and plain silk from all over Laos.

For old or rare baskets made by the tribal people of Laos are easily found in the antique shops of the Morning Market and the downtown region. These can cost as much as $50. Mats and sticky rice baskets which cost $1-3 can be seen on Chao Anou Road beyond the Thong Khan Kham Market. The T'Shop Lai Gallery on Inpeng Road close to Le Vendôme Restaurant is great for unique mosaics and other handicrafts made from coconut shell; prices are fixed and a bit steep.

Besides the Morning Market, most souvenir, textile and antique stores are available on Samsenthai and Setthathilat roads and alongside the lanes running between them. Antique brass weights, sometimes called " opium weights " are normally available in antique shops but may also be seen in upscale textile stores. They cost 2 - 5 times more than in Louang Phabang and other provinces.

Opium pipes are sold in the antique shops on Samsenthai Road; real antique pipes can cost up to $100 or more, but new-made Vietnamese pipes may cost as little as $10. Remember that the customs officers in your home country may find a reason or two to take such a purchase away. Most antique and curio shops sell a small stash of banknotes, coins and stamps from present and previous regimes. A no-name philatelic shop near the corner of Samsenthai and Pangkham roads offers a great collection.

Raintrees on Nokeo Koummane Road, near La Terrasse Restaurant, has the best choice of English-language books in the city. Smaller branches are situated on Pangkham Road, adjacent to the Thai Airways office, and in the lobby of the Novotel and Lao Hotel Plaza. The government-run State Bookstore, located on the corner of Manthatoulat and Setthathilat roads, provides a good collection of English-language books and even a few dusty titles from the Soviet era.