Talat Sao Market in Vientiane, Laos

Talat Sao Market in Vientiane
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.
Laos Talat Sao Market
Morning Market in Vientian 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 shops, restaurants and vegetables vendors outside. Inside, there are shops for purchasing 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 in 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 there are two floors.

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. 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

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

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, more locals seem to be buying these Sinh dresses. 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

Morning Market - Selection of jewelery, 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.

Morning Market - Goldsmith shops

So, if you have no clue about gold, silver of gems, I would advice 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).

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 there. 

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 look for in Talat Sao Morning Market
  • T-Shirts
  • Jewelery
  • Antiques
  • Traditional Lao Bags
  • Silk Scarves
  • Cushion Covers
  • Snake Wines or Whiskeys (if your country permits it)
Tips for the Morning 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
  • Fake gems at the jewelery 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.
Getting to Talat Sao Morning Market Vientiane
  • 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.

The best part about roaming around Vientiane 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. 

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