Exploring the Luang Prabang Night Markets
When a night market is held every night you know it has to be an amazing one and the Luang Prabang Night Market is exactly this. With stalls carrying everything you could ever want it is easy to spend hours exploring the lanes.
Luang Prabang is a beautiful picturesque town, the former capital of Laos and in more recent times it been declared a UNESCO world heritage city. It oozes charm, with a mixture of French and Laotian architecture it has become one of my favorite cities in South East Asia. Though, I did find that exploring the amazing UNESCO city of Luang Prabang did come with a higher price tag than its other South East Asian counterparts.
Where to Stay in Luang Prabang
We stayed at the Phanhthasone Guesthouse while visiting Luang Prabang. The price tag was a lot higher than excepted, costing $18 per night for a deluxe twin room. Though, this was for a room with air conditioning, a private bathroom and even a television; not that we used it anyway. This guesthouse is also in an excellent location just a couple minutes walk to the Luang Prabang night market, though tucked down a quiet alleyway. The receptionist was wonderfully helpful, the room was beautiful and we loved it so much we actually extended our stay here.
The Luang Prabang Night Market
The Luang Prabang Night Markets occur every night in the city center. During that time the roads are closed to vehicles and hundreds of red and blue stalls are set up. There are usually up to three hundred vendors selling a range of goods from food and drink to clothing and little souvenirs.
The vendors here are extremely friendly and keen to have a good laugh. If you are a beginner at haggling this is honestly the perfect place to practice your skills! You will receive so many smiles and may even walk out with a couple good purchases!
When and Where
Time: 5.00pm-11.00pm everyday
Location: Starting at Wai Mai and right along the Sisavangvong Road until it reaches the town center
What to Buy
The stalls set up along the road seem to be endless, just a maze of red and blue tents. Though, what is lurking in these tents are amazing and what I reckon is the best souvenir shopping in Laos.
Clothing is a major seller here and personally I thought it had the widest variety of my favorite backpacker elephant pants in my travels of South East Asia. We purchased two shirts from here which we wore the next day to Kuang Si Falls. James also purchased a pair of elephant print shorts for $3.00.
If you are wanting one of those ‘Beer Laos’ singlets this is the perfect place to find one in your desired color, shape and size. The variety of silk scarves are endless. The jewelry is also amazing with some sign stating the bracelets are made from bombs (I am not too sure how true this is though, as it could be one of those touristy gmickey things).
You will find typical souvenirs like key chains and bags, as well as little elephant toys and postcards. If you are after one of those gorgeous hand painted decorative umbrellas this is the perfect opportunity. There are even bed covers and pillows in a wide assortment of beautiful designs!
My favorite stalls at the Luang Prabang night market were definitely those vendors selling art. Seriously, I fell in love with some pieces here and regret not buying them. I would have loved to have taken some photos of it, but you are not allowed to protect the artists creative integrity, which is understandable.
Many of the stalls do unfortunately sells very similar items, though this is a regular occurrence in South East Asian countries. Just keep an eye out for those special little trinkets among the chaos.
Unfortunately, you will see many vendors selling souvenirs which are made from endangered animals. This includes ivory, dried sea creatures, fur, claws, teeth and leather. There are even dead snakes and scorpions packaged into bottles of alcohol. Please avoid buying these types products to ensure you don’t support the endangered animal trade.
What to Eat
If you are craving a little bit more western food in your diet I must say Laos is the country you need to visit. It may not be as popular as the neighboring Thailand or Vietnam. Though, I found that food stalls and restaurants had the widest range of western food I saw in South East Asia. I am going to say this is because of the French influence, and even better, because of that influence the food is damn good!
Lets start with baguettes, because if I have learned one thing from traveling Laos, its they they have the most amazing baguettes! At one end of the markets you will find so many baguette vendors all lined up next to each other. Its the perfect place to mix and mingle with other travelers with large picnic like tables set out front. They are actually open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t tell anyone but we ate here at least twice a day. My usual was tofu, avocado, cheese, tomato and lettuce which cost $3.00.
Of course, there are the typical crepe stands in the market place. They have all the main toppings of condensed milk, banana, chocolate, egg; basically everything that is good in life.
The smoothie stalls are also ever present here. Though, unlike Thailand where they use ice, in Laos they have milk based smoothies. This goes down very well especially if you are ordering a sneaky oreo, banana and condensed milk smoothie!
Along the little lane ways which extend from the Luang Prabang Night Market you will find more local style buffet meals for as cheap as $1.00. Who can say no to that!
Also, at the main center end of the market is favorite dinner stall. They have numerous vegetarian dishes of noodles, rice, spring rolls, as well as BBQ’D meats which you can add on top. This was mine, and I am sure many others, number one dinner spot. There are even mats set up on a grassy spot close by so you can chill out and enjoy your meal. A massive portion of noodles cost only $1.20!
If you are interested in a meal which is a little more upscale there are numerous of restaurants open along the market side. Chill out with a good meal, cold beer and people watch from the comfort of your table.
Now for everyone favorite meal, dessert. Keep an eye out for the bakery stall near the town center end of the market. Their baked goods are the ones that feature in most my photos. Here they sell the most amazing danishes, trust me and just buy one, or four. They only cost $1.20 and if you are too full from dinner save it for breakfast.
The Luang Prabang Night Market Is A Must Visit!
Seriously if you are in Luang Prabang you must visit the Luang Prabang Night Markets. It is the perfect place to stuff your face after a busy day! Whether you have just been exploring Kuang Si Falls or even if you have just arrived off the slow boat and needing something other than cup of noodles.
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