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Luang Prabang Night Market and Day Markets

Gorgeous little Luang Prabang in Laos is quite the tourist hot spot these days yet still retains its sleepy Laos charm. The Luang Prabang Night Market is one of the best of it’s kind in the world and delughts tourists with it’s crafts, trinkets and sreet food, but every day you’ll see market activity on the streets of Luang Prabanh. There are two distinct types of market here and both are absolutely fascinating. There’s the night market, which is for tourists, and the food market, which most certainly isn’t. Luang Prabang markets are fascinating and diverse at any time of day or night and packed with interesting street food to try while lined with chic little restaurants. Let’s explore.

 The night markets in Luang prabang just setting up.

Starting to set up the night market in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang Night Market

The main road through town closes in the late afternoon as the stall holders start arriving and setting up. Everything goes a lot quieter as the traffic stops but getting up and down that street, if you’re not interested in shopping, becomes an obstacle course. Our guest house is just off the night market, right opposite the monastery, a great spot to watch all the action. Which we do, every day. We based ourselves in Laos for 6 weeks and at least 2 weeks we spent in Luang Prabang observing daily life for locals and tourists and checking out local attractions, hotels and restaurants. We have a lot more Laos content on our site and it’s one of our favourite coutries.

Night Market Luang Prabang Laos. Fabrics, clothes, embroidery and souvenirs.

The Luang Prabang night market is one of the biggest tourist markets I’ve ever seen, it seems to go on forever and compares well with other big night markets such as Chiang Mai. My favourite market is still Anjuna, Goa, but this one is really good. Every night we’ve browsed the stalls, every night we find something new and interesting. Comparing this night market to that in Hoi An, Vetnam, another market tourists will know well, Luang Prabang is far less tacky and the crafts are much more authentic and better quality.

Laos produces some beautiful hand-woven fabrics and decorative hand sewn items, I’d go for those if I was in the market for souvenirs, unfortunately our packs can’t get any fuller.

There are hundreds of stalls selling hippy trousers, bags, soft toys, beautiful jewellery, art work and decorative nick knacks along a few more unusual items. The sort of items you could never get past customs even if you wanted to buy them.

Luang Prabang Night Market, endangered species souvenirs

 

This lady was selling everything you shouldn’t buy. She told me these teeth and claws were tiger, I really hope they’re not, but they’re from some unfortunate big cat.

 

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Decorated tortoise shells, tops and bottoms. Another thing not to touch.

 

Luang Prabang Night Market, cobra wine

 

Snake, scorpion and gecko wine. You’ll find this all over South East Asia these days. Not very nice for the animals involved.

There is a separate alleyway stuffed with food stalls ad buffets ever evening during the night market. I’ve already talked about it in Struggling with Food in Luang Prabang, it’s spectacular to photograph but poor Chef got hit hard by some sort of tummy bug. There are other, much nicer, spots to eat if you have a dig around, the baguette and smooth stalls on the main night market street seemed pretty safe and we had no problem with hot street food in the night market area, such as noodle soups and Laos donuts.

The Food and Produce Market in Luang Prabang by Day

Markets of Luang Prabang Laos. Food and produce for sale.

All the colours and flavours of Asia in one market stall.

This is where the markets in Luang Prabang get really interesting for us, we love our food!

The produce market has just about everything edible that you could imagine. Plus some stuff that you wouldn’t imagine, ever.

Luang Prabang Laos, freshly gathered mushrooms for sale on the street

Wild mushrooms freshly gathered. Chef tells me these girolles would be $50/Kg back in Australia. We had delicious oyster mushroom dishes in Vang Vieng.

There are a lot of farmers and gardeners in the Luang Prabang area, small holders producing pineapples, blue corn, bananas and pumpkins. Surplus fruit and veg and any wild foods they can collect goes to market. A handful of chilies  a few banana flowers, whatever fish they can catch, a bucket of live frogs, it’s all there. Stall after stall laid out on the ground, fruit, veg, fish, the odd live chicken or pig. It’s a fascinating place to wander around.

Luang Prabang market, fish for sale

Sometimes you’ll see fishermen carrying huge fish up from the Mekong, they go straight to the market.

Luang Prabang Market crabs for sale

Little river crabs, packaged and ready to take away.

Luang Prabang food market wasp grubs for sale

Giant wasp grubs. I have no idea what they do with these!

Wandering around the markets is a fascinating peek into a way of life. I love it. I haven’t seen ant eggs yet, I’ve heard that Laos is famous for ant egg soup, if we can find it the chef has to try it. So far no sign.

What do you think about the animal parts on sale as souvenirs at Luang Prabang night market? It can’t be illegal here although it’s very much against the rules to take them back to Australia and to most countries. I wonder who buys them?

So where’s your favourite market? I’m really looking forward to the European Christmas markets when we go home in December and I used to work at Port Douglas market, Far North Queensland, it’s a brilliant one, but Asia always wins for me. We loved our time in Laos and Luang Prabang night market was a daily part of our life. Do you have any recommendations for other great night markets?

 

 

 

 

The bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang Laos
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Thuy Do

Wednesday 28th of May 2014

They will eat those wasp grubs, steam it or make some sauce from it :)

Laurel- Capturing la Vita

Sunday 18th of August 2013

I just love visiting markets. This one looks like so much fun with lots of unique treasures.

Amy

Tuesday 13th of August 2013

Really looking forward to getting here in a few months' time (although I'm already a bit nervous about the food). The animal shells and teeth are horrible, I really have no idea who'd buy them in this day and age - it's just hideous. We were at the Chiang Mai Sunday night market a couple of days ago, which was our first real taste of Asian food markets so far on this trip; we loved it.

[email protected]

Wednesday 14th of August 2013

Amy, if you spend a bit more on food you'll be OK, but this town is not set up for backpacker budgets these days. Please avoid the putrid buffet! Our noodle lady is great, just opposite the monastery, she's the only one we've found without heavily fatty stock, it's really light. The kids love the Laos donuts, there is a lady on the corner near the road block selling them from the late afternoon and there is a great Indian restaurant ( Nisha's). We've found ourselves spending $20 on breakfast for 4 because the cheaper options are just so yuk! The more expensive cafes are touch and go, too, we recommend the new Indigo cafe/hotel right opposite the baguette ladies for good coffee and eggs ( and internet and cake!), but it costs. We've been in Luang Prabang for over 2 weeks now, it's a lovely place to be, but we're looking forward to going back to Vang Vieng for some better, cheaper food!

Carra

Tuesday 13th of August 2013

I grew up wandering the marvelous souqs throughout the Middle East, the bright open-air markets all over the Indian sub-continent, the not-to-be-missed markets in Japan, Korea and China and to this day, I just love the sights, smells, colours and tastes and grab every opportunity to wander through no matter where I am. And while all different, globally, big or small, there is a common energy, excitement and vibrancy you don't find anywhere else...............

Kate Thomas

Monday 12th of August 2013

I love markets, too. It all looks fabulous. How about our Food Festival in Cowbridge, I think, in October, November. I'm told it's gained quite a reputation with the 'Foodies'!

[email protected]

Wednesday 14th of August 2013

We'll just miss it Kate, we're arriving in December! If you have any contacts in tourism, pass them to me please, we're looking for partnerships and places to promote.

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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