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Luang Prabang morning market, Laos

Fancy some Mekong river weed? Super-hot chillies? Or the odd frog? Well, you’ve come to the right place if you hit Luang Prabang‘s intriguing Morning Market, strung out daily between the Royal Palace Museum and Th Chao Phanya Kang street in the central old quarter. During a recent trip to this Unesco-listed town in northern Laos, we got up early to check out the dawn produce market…


Neighbouring Thailand’s cuisine may be more famous, but Laotians are known for using anything that comes to hand, teaming rustic produce with a dash of French influence and finger-friendly sticky rice.


Mekong river weed, or kai phen, makes a tasty treat fried with sesame seeds, the Lao equivalent of nori seaweed. Go easy on that chilli sauce though!

Luang Prabang market produce


Like your food fresh? Still-breathing offerings at the market span frogs, fish and the slightly more worrying rat on a string.  We loved the pretty flowers, though, destined for temple shrines.

Morning market in Luang Prabang, Laos


You can market-hop from dawn to dusk, so come early evening head to the covered stalls of the Night Market on Sisavangvong Road, where you can bargain for silk scarves, lanterns and embroidered throws. Pay in US dollars or Thai baht if you can’t face carrying bucket loads of local currency the kip.


Chunky silver jewellery is one of the best buys, but be warned – some of the bigger necklaces make you feel more like a sculptural installation than a girl-about-town.

Hill-tribe jewellery at Luang Prabang market


Lots of vendors are minority Hmong hill tribe or country women, so anything you buy directly benefits the local community. Plus the sell is soft, so you can pick your travel finds without feeling under pressure.

Hmong handicrafts at Luang Prabang market

To book a boutique hotel in Luang Prabang, or for more ideas for laid-back shopping in Laos, see our Luang Prabang guide.

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