The central area of Luang Prabang is full of places to buy souvenirs, silk, handicrafts, and jewelry. With its royal heritage and the accompanying emphasis on pageantry and tradition it is no surprise that Luang Prabang has a rich tradition of artisanship.
This is compounded by its situation at the heart of a mountain region where ethnic minorities forged their own traditions of craftsmanship. Bargains are hard to find these days but there is a lot of competition so you can certainly get a reasonable deal.
Dara Market -- This is the central market next to Wat Phousi and until recently it was a rough-and-ready functioning provincial commercial hub selling motorcycle parts, electrical goods, flip-flops, light bulbs, some foodstuffs, and pretty much everything else you might need. That has now changed and it has been rebuilt and gentrified. This was inevitable given its position and Luang Prabang's progress as a major tourist destination. Now it is a pleasant, clean, orderly, and mildly antiseptic tiled market with a series of stalls selling clothes, fabrics, and jewelry as well as more practical things such as shampoo, shoes, bags, and coffee. The sell is notably gentle here, and with a smile you can get people down by about 30% from their asking price. Daily 8am to 5pm.
The Night Market -- Every evening from approximately 6 to 9pm, the end of Sisavangvong Road between the central junction with Setthathirath Road past the Royal Palace to the start of the main shopping area is blocked off and becomes a Thai-style night market. Here you can get fabrics, wall hangings, T-shirts, ceramics, woodcarvings, and a great deal more from legions of grinning old ladies from the hills. Grinning they may be, but you will still need to bargain hard to get a good price. The place has a nice vibe and it's quiet and largely candlelit. In high season there are crowds but they are rarely stifling.
Most of the Luang Prabang shops have fixed prices but bargaining is still accepted at stores selling art objects and antique pieces.
Weaving is one of the main sources of livelihood in the region and the weaving village is about 3 km outside Luang Prabang. Besides the Luang Prabang shops in the city, every one of which showcases the various local styles, you could visit the community market in the village to pick up some lovely pieces of fabric. You could even get a piece woven according to your choice of colours and pattern.
If you take a liking to the sihns worn by the local women, you could buy some fabric at the Phousi Market. Prices vary from $7 to $25 and can go up to $200 for the very intricately designed ones. Each fabric set includes the fabric and a border, and you could get your sihn tailored to your size at one of the tailoring shops in Luang Prabang. Tailors take a couple of days to complete the piece but if possible, you should try and get a fitting done in between.
Lampshades and interleaved photograph albums are other popular buys here while on a Luang Prabang holiday. The lampshades can be packed flat for ease of transportation though it is wise to check the wattage of the lamps, as they can be quite low. Bedspreads and duvet covers are made to size by the women in the Hmong market, which is located near the post office. They can complete the work overnight.
Mixay and Satri Lao are two shops in Luang Prabang that sell ready-made garments brought in from the surrounding areas. Both shops accept credit cards. A night market opens daily at the far end of the main street./2412010031.html#ixzz15QZwy5lM