Talat Sao Market in Vientiane, Laos

Vientiane Talat Sao Market
The Talat Sao Market in Vientiane, Laos is one of the must visit places when visiting this amazing city. This market is located at the eastern corner of Lan Xang Road and Khu Vieng Road in the heart of Vientiane.

Talat Sao market opens 7:00 am in the morning and stays open till around 4:00 pm daily and is full of locals and tourist alike.

Another landmark to this busy morning market is the Vientiane main post office which is just in front of the Morning Market.

Talat Sao Market in Vientiane

Laos Talat Sao Market
Morning Market in Vientiane Laos
Getting to this morning market is pretty simple as you can just walk there if you are staying in town. It would take about 10 to 15 minutes to walk here from the main fountain in town.

The morning market has recently added a 4 story shopping center connecting to the main Talat Sao market and should be completed by this year, 2009.

One of the modern structures in Vientiane, this will cater to the many locals and tourist to the area and add on to Vientiane's modernization.

Main motor bike parking

The morning market consists of many small local shops, restaurants and you will find the vegetables vendors outside. 

Inside Talat Sao, there are shops selling gold, jewelry, silk and clothing (modern and traditional), wooden crafts, musical instruments, electronics, appliances, housewares, CDs and DVDs/VCDs and general grocery items.

Talat Sao Bazaar

The entire Talat Sao bazaar is split into various sections, and is connected to the new mall section. So most of the interesting items are in the old wing of the building where you will find two floors of shopping.

The lower floor caters to handicraft, fabrics, antiques and general items where the upper floor is filled with goldsmith shops, jewelers, silver sellers and also bags, clothes and shoes, which is a great place for souvenirs.

Outdoor goldsmith stalls

While exploring Talat Sao, there was an outdoor area where mostly locals go to. Looking like a local and yet tourist, I decided to explore this area. I noticed that there were a lot of goldsmiths here.

These local goldsmiths are lined up all in a row in small make shift stalls and counters. Sadly, all of the signage were in Lao so I am assuming they were about melting, repairing or designing gold rings, chains and bracelets.

Video of goldsmith at Talat Sao Market

Talat Sao Market Inside
Local hawkers at one of the lanes in the market
As you walk the outdoor area of Talat Sao, you will also see a lot of small shops selling VCD or DVD movies and music CDs.

Mind you that these are all in Lao catering to the locals. So do not bother with trying to look for that Beatles greatest hits there.

There are a number of eateries which are pretty much run down so if you are up to trying the local food, then go ahead if you have an iron stomach.

DVD & VCD haven outside Talat Sao Morning Market

Lao silverware being sold at the morning market in Laos
The outdoor area of Talat Sao will end at one point and you need to go indoors. Here you will start to see rows and rows of stalls and shops selling a variety of items.

One row which I passed just sold general electrical household items like television sets, mixers, toasters, fans and the works.

Just opposite I saw vendors selling silverware. There was a variety of silver bracelets, necklaces, belts, earrings and even silver containers. If you are a silver lover, then this would be a fantastic place to buy some of them.

Mind you that the Lao silver sold at small stalls are mostly 30% to 70% silver hence the extremely cheap prices you see.

Snake Whisky Laos
Lao Snake whisky and wines
Another stall outdoor was selling all kinds of snake whiskeys and snake wines in various sized bottles. Some as small as a perfume bottle.

Some of the combinations include snakes, scorpions, geckos and centipedes. I still wonder how they get the critters into the small little bottles.

Prices of these snake wines and whiskey are really cheap. The small ones go for as low as US$2.00 per bottle while the medium ones about US$5.00.

For the larger ones, expect to pay around US$8 to $15 depending on the size and type of snake or critter inside the wine.

Traditional Lao Sinh dress
Traditional Lao Sinh dress, costumes and attire
Walking around the old section of the morning market, you will see a lot of traditional Lao Sinh ladies costumes for sale. Some of them are well made and may cost a bit due to the fabrics and materials used to make them.

However, I hardly saw any tourist buying them when I was exploring this place and more locals seem to be buying these Sinh dresses instead.

Other items of interest would be the Lao Silk Scarves, Lao cushion covers, traditional Lao bags and even Lao designed bed comforters being sold here.

Seriously if you are in Vientiane, Talat Sao would be a great place to do your souvenir shopping, and do some bargaining too.

Various Bags and Fabrics at the Talat Sao Morning Market

Gem Market in VientianeSelection of jewelry, gold and gems

On the first floor of the old wing at Talat Sao, this is where the gold, silver and gems are found. Rows and rows of jewelers will be found here with a variety of gems. Mostly locals are seen here but when

I was there, a number of tourist were seen buying them too, not the gold but more of the silver. I did get a bracelet for my mum, it was a 18 karat gold bracelet with synthetic rubies all around.

The price? A staggering US$15.00 after 30 minutes of haggling with the lady.

Goldsmith Shops Talat SaoGoldsmith shops

So, if you have no clue about gold, silver of gems, I would advise you get some professional advice if you plan to do some shopping here.

Generally most of the items here are pretty much synthetic and non-pure. Silvers are about 30% to 80% pure.

 For the Gold, it generally looks lighter than the normal gold and of course, the purity is less at most shops. Sellers will convince you they are pure and so on, but then again, do not be fooled. Again, seek professional advice if you are out to buy gold and gems.

Now if you venture into the new building or the shopping mall, you will be amazed to see how fast Laos is developing. Mobile phone shops, play stations, electrical and many other general modern items are here.

One good shop I found was a Music Shop in the mall. The prices are crazy cheap and they were also selling DVDs. I went straight for some of the box set music CDs. I must have bought at least 10 double CD sets.

Mind you they are all counterfeit CDs from China which was imported into Laos. Then again, you never know what you might find at this music shop like I did.

Update 2017 - There is a shopping mall in the area, and CD's have been replaced with DVD's nowadays. 

Talat Sao Morning Market Map in Vientiane, Laos


Just a reminder to Malaysians traveling here, if you buy the Snake Wines or Snake Whiskeys as gifts or souvenirs, be prepared to be stopped at the Malaysian airport. 

Especially if you are planning on going through the 'Green Lane' at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) KLIA2 airport, you will be stopped. 

The airport customs are pretty smart if you ask me, they will let you pass through the green lane but all flights from Indochina will have their bags scanned at the green lane. 

This is where you will get caught. I had 3 of my snake wines confiscated on my return back to Kuala Lumpur from Vientiane. 

So it would be wise to use the red lane and try your luck as they would just search your bags verses getting it scanned.

Things to Buy in Talat Sao Morning Market

Basically, there are many interestings to buy at the Talat Sao morning market, and it all depends what you want to look for.

For most tourist visiting here, they will go for the commercial items, and they include;
  • T-Shirts
  • Jewelry
  • Antiques
  • Traditional Lao Bags
  • Silk Scarves
  • Cushion Covers
  • Snake Wines or Whiskeys (if your country permits it)
Tips for the Morning Market

Just like any other local markets, there are always things that can make your experience a much better one. All you need are some local tips that can possibly assist you when you visit the market.
  • Bargain when possible, Lao people are very nice.
  • The old market area can get hot and humid, so dress comfortably.
  • You can easily spend around 3-4 hours here if you like markets.
  • Restaurants in the mall area are clean and good food is available.
  • Cafe available in mall area serving good coffee.
Things to watch out for

Again, just like any market around the world, there are also things that you should look out for, or be cautious when buying local items from them. Below is some of the things to watch out for when you visit the Talat Sao market. 
  • Fake gems at the jewelry section
  • Low quality gold and silver
  • Fake antique French era coins
  • Pirated DVD and CDs of popular English movies and singers/bands. (They look 100% real)
  • If you buy the DVD movies, they come with Lao sub-titles or even dubbed in Lao language.
How To Go To Talat Sao Morning Market

For those traveling solo, you may want to know how to get to the Talat Sao morning market, and the best way is by walking or taking a tuk tuk. 
  • Walking is possible from town center, about 10 to 15 mins walk
  • Alternatively you can take a taxi or tuk tuk. Cheap, about US$1 to $3
  • Address: Lane Xang Ave. at Khu Vieng St., Vientiane
General Lao information
  • Visitors must pay US$35 cash and supply a passport-size photo to receive a visa upon arrival in Laos. The departure tax is US$10.00. 
Conclusion

The best part about roaming around Vientiane city is that you get to see how natural and beautiful a small city without modernization works. 

Even though technology is creeping in, many people still take like easy over there. And the best way to enjoy this is by visiting the Talat Sao Market in Vientiane, Laos. 
Talat Sao Market in Vientiane, Laos Talat Sao Market in Vientiane, Laos Reviewed by David Jr on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 Rating: 5

13 comments:

kenwooi said...

snake wine.. eww.. =P

kenwooi.com

Borneo Falcon said...

I been planning to go to Laos for sometime now. This information will be useful, especially the visa entry that country

Nicholas Leong said...

Oo their morning market sells stuff that are quite different. Where are the fresh meats, fruits and vegetables?

David Jr said...

Ken, actually I did not try it either....

Ben, You should go either before the Laos SEA Games or after the games. Best month to go is Jan/Feb/March. Go now while it is still cheap.

Nicholas, haha good one there. Looking through the camera lens, I did not find anything interesting so no general market pics. I was more interested in the local crafts and stuff.

David

Mizzsharon said...

Travel blogs are awesome =)
Why did u not try the snake thingy!
Once in life time!
Just do it!
I wouldn't mind gulping it down with you if I was there. Maybe next time =)
Is there some medicinal benefits of some sort anyway?

David Jr said...

Xiaopei, I guess the snake wines are absolutely not for you. But the other stuff there is awesome!

MizzSharon, Actually I did try some many years ago but not here in Laos. Don't know why but I just made up my mind when I saw that. I think there are medicinal benefits but I cannot be too sure.

Regards,
David

foongpc said...

Hi, dropping by here from IMCurtain. Nice blog! I haven't been to Laos. Hope to go there one day! : )

Mike Yip said...

eh want to ask you hor, renting bikes there, need license to ride around the place?

Me dun have license leh but I think it's cheaper to get around in a rented bike if I were to visit the place right?

David Jr said...

Foong, thank for the visit.

Mike, actually you don not ned a license to rent a bike there in Vientiane. All you need to to deposit your passport for the duration of your rental. But they are very safe.

If you do not trust that option, they would ask you to put a deposit of US$300.00 and photocopy of your passport.

Rentals for a 125cc bike is US$7 a day (2008 rate). I rented it from a Vietamese guy in town at one of the shops near the Mekong River.

And always carry the rental paper with you at all times. Photocopy it.The police do check randomly. And helmets are a must.

Regards,
David

Anonymous said...

Hi, Thks a lot!! Your info really informative and straight to the point. Helps me a lot before I'm flying off to Loas. =)

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, I just came back from Loas recently and You are right! most of the gold are fake even in the mall!! There are many foreigner from States got cheated and flew back to make complains. Generally, Please beware. They are many things no worth it to buy. They will charge you with unreasonable price. Many of the seller will give you a black charcoal face. Honestly, I'm really disappointed.

Anonymous said...

if i want to buy the stuff i see here, how do i do so? or how can i find laos tradition clothes?

David Jr said...

Thanks and glad you all got the info ahead of going there.

Last Anon - You best bring someone who can speak Lao to the market.

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