Top 10 Things To Buy in Laos
02/02/2018 2211 Views 0 Comments Brian Vu
Rarely do Lao markets have no handicraft and souvenir area to satisfy their customers. Noticeably, you will be hard to find the similar mass-produced trinkets in hundreds of stalls throughout this “Land of A Million Elephants”. Instead, regional handmade crafts and products are mostly presented by the dozens of Lao ethnic groups, which makes souvenir shopping a worthy experience. Here are 10 best things to buy in Laos.
1. Sinh - Lao Traditional Dress
For those who are into fashion, how nice it is when taking some Laos tour packages and coming back the homeland with a Sinh which is the traditional costume for Lao women. For more details, 3 main parts composing of “hua sinh” (the waist band part), “phuen sinh” (the skirts’ body which is usually empty and without many decorative vignettes), and “tin sinh” (the lower border which contains golden ornament) all make this skirt a harmonic combination. Normally, when dressing “Sinh”, Lao women have a tendency for using scarves with the same decoration crossing over the top of their body. Along with the tube skirt made of silk or cotton coming in all colors, they also make coiled hairstyles to fulfill Lao traditional style in costume.
Sinh is one of the best things to buy in Laos
2. Beer Lao T-Shirt
It is no exaggeration to say that rarely single product is more ubiquitous than Beer Lao which many travelers regard as the best beer in Asia. In fact, the trademark Tiger logo adorns posters and T-shirts designed by independent artists and designers, which are bought mostly by young Westerners as souvenirs of their stay. Moreover, the bright yellow advertisements make everything from umbrellas to restaurant signs, billboards and napkin holders throughout the country become more special. Hence, why don’t you follow them on Instagram and pick up a T-shirt to remind yourself of the refreshing brew served in small glasses over ice.
3. Silk and Textile Weaving
Laos witnessed the evolution of weaving emerged from the cultural contact between varying ethnic groups, which has created some of the most intricate and stunning textiles from the early time. In the making process, skillful Lao women always dye the traditional textiles using silk originating from the nature by hand. Specifically, do you know that each product of weaving is like a masterpiece? Indeed, working behind the cloth, “the weaver’s fingers dance over the threads, moving shuttles, looping threads, and lifting warp; a slip of the finger or the mind, or a single dropped thread can create glaring errors. Precision, consistency and accuracy are required with every move, from designing the pattern to raising, spinning and dyeing the silk, to completing months of weaving.” as stated in House of Wandering Silk.
If you are in Luang Prabang, do not forget checking out Ok Pop Tok which is a well-known traditional textile village and purchasing a product made of silk to learn about how silk is made and how regional patterns are designed and preserved.
4. Champa Flower
Lao national flower - Plumeria, colloquially called “champa”, comes with a sweet scent and multiple colors like red, yellow, pink and a lot of pastels as well. Obviously, Laotians whole heartedly believe that charming Champa flower is the embodiment of sincerity and joy in their life, which makes it become the scared decoration in ceremonies or a garland to welcome dear guests. Interestingly, the Champa flowers bloom every day and last for a long time, which is a good news for those who are keen on bringing them to their countries as a spiritually valued souvenir.
To sum up, 4 kinds of souvenirs listed above with their own uniqueness will make your trip to Lao more meaningful than ever before.
5. Replica of Antiques
Lao's antiques show their characteristics in special shapes and decorations due to the diversity of ethnic minority. There are many antique stores placed in the big cities such as Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Savannakhet that offer many clothes, musical instruments, wood carvings and ancient coins and so on.
We suggest you should buy the replicas of antiques like potteries, clothes and coins instead of buying Lao genuine products and Buddhist artifacts. Because they are banned from bringing out of the country by Lao government.
Many villages of Laos focus on preserve and develop pottery-making tradition. Unlike other cultures, Lao women are the main labor force to create traditional pottery. The techniques are passed down from mother to daughter for generations. Beside decoration purpose, pottery products are used in daily life such as pots, urns, roofing and floor tiles as well as for decoration purpose. Because the pottery products need a long-term process to mix, molding jand drying so that even the most common items also have incredibly high quality.
7. Woven Baskets
One of the most important crafts in Lao is Bamboo weaving, especially in woven basket products. Locals use them to store glutinous sticky rice at home. While women dominate the textile weaving of Laos, men are responsible for making the beautiful bamboo and rattan vessels.
Woven basket becomes an ideal souvenir for all types of tourists because of its beauty and cheap price. So, why don't you buy it for your relatives and friends back home?
Jewelries made from silver and gold are very popular in Lao. You might notice the silver belt, silver earrings, bracelets worn by a great number of Lao women including school students and government officers. If you want to buy these sparkling/ glistering products, you can visit Samsenthai Street where a majority of jewelry shops are located. You can find many silver belts, silver earrings, and bracelets with various shapes and high qualities. Silversmiths use traditional tools that they’ve been using for generations to create beautiful designs depicting Buddha, Lao legends and nature.
9. Champasak Coffee
Laos has one of the best coffee beans in the world, which proves the outstanding quality of its coffee products. According to many researches, this nation is the best place to grow coffee among Southeast Asian countries. About 95% of the coffee grown in Laos come from the Bolevan Plateau - the highland region in Champasak Province. Cool temperature, abundant rainfall and the elevation reaching 4,200 feet (1,300 meters) make this region become an ideal location for growing coffee. Here, coffee is sold widely in the streets and shops with suitable price. There are some famous coffee shops with its tasty flavor and professional services: 124 Thaluang Coffee, Vida Bakery Cafe, Nakorn Cafe, etc.
10. Wood Carving
Carvings are impressive pieces made of wood in various styles and shades. Carving products are inspired by daily life and religious belief. Woodworks can be easily found at local shops in Luang Prabang, Vientiane or Pakse. The complex design of these valuable wood pieces is definitely the most meticulous carvings in Southeast Asia.
Above is our suggestions of best things to buy in Laos. This beautiful landlocked country does has a lot of beautiful souvenirs to buy back home. It's time for you to set foot and explore. Feel free to check out Laos Travel Guide for more useful travel tips and share it with your friends!