There are quite a few markets taking place around Vientiane where fresh produce, as well as crafts and ornaments, can be picked up. The cityâ€™s main shopping streets are Samsenthai and Setthathirat, around the Nam Phu Fountain area and the Morning Market, where you can find the best deals on local silks.
The majority of jewelry shops are situated along Samsenthai Street and trade primarily in silver and gold, which can be bought cheaper than in neighbouring Thailand. Laos gold is 99.99% pure and is sold at a set price per gram. Upstairs in the Morning Market is great place to pick up some chunky, hill-tribe statement pieces that you won't see on anyone else back home. Bari Gems and Jewelry are the foremost jewelers in Vientiane, established in 1968. You can get various gemstones, gold and silver ornaments and jewels at the shops based on Samsenthai. Saigon Bijoux is another good choice, based in the same area, and the business also deals in repairs. Please note that some silver and copper items exported from Laos are subject to tax according to weight.
Art, crafts and antiques
Samsenthai, Panggkam and Setthathirat streets are the places to shop for the most varied choice and prices for crafts, antiques and art. Here, hill-tribe and Thai Tribal crafts are plentiful. Be sure to check out Kanchana Boutique on Chanta Khumman Street where there's an extensive range of Laos silk and crafts. The owner of Tâ€™Shop Lai Galerie is dedicated to providing fair trade products for those interested in both modern and traditional art in a range of media, furniture and interesting handicrafts
The hub of textile dealers in downtown Vientiane is Nokeo Khumman Street. Sandra Yuck offers a unique shopping experience in Vientiane; her private studio, Caruso, on Fa Ngum Road, carries a line of ebony wooden boxes, trays, and accessories, as well as unique Laos bedspreads and other home furnishings. The famous American weaver and founder of Laos Textiles, Carol Cassidy, also has her office in the area. Cassidy and her team are renowned for producing intricate wall hangings, scarves and sinhs â€“ traditional Laos sarongs. Both Cassidy and Yuck are considered pivotal in the revival of this ancient art form and remain true to the pain-staking craftsmanship demanded during production, making each purchase all the more unique (and costly).
The Morning Market is considered the hub of local commerce, where every corner turned promises a new surprise. The main bus station, post office, government offices and banks are located near by, making it in actual fact the true center of Vientiane. A shopperâ€™s paradise, the market is Laos interpretation of Western mall culture, everything from freshly slaughtered pigs to handicrafts from provinces around the country. Talat Khua Din is just east of the Morning Market and offers everything from tobacco to flowers. North of the town centre in Ban Thong Khan Kham is Talat Thong Khan Kham, an all day market and one of the biggest in Vientiane selling a vast amount of crafts and fresh produce.
The majority of books that are found in Vientiane are second-hand French and English novels, maps, travel guides and the occasional Japanese comic book. Here are the names of a few bookstores around Vientiane: Lao Plaza Hotel Book Shop, Kosila Bookshop 1 & 2, Bookshop Sapasin Tha.