Nearly every city and town in Laos has a market and nearly every market has a handicraft and souvenir area. Besides popular souvenirs such as textiles. coffee, antiques,… here are some of weird items only Laos offers.
The traditional skirt of Laos is worn by women attending ceremonies, school girls and government officials alike. The skirts are large, cylindrical tubes attached at the waste and folded over. The body of the sinh typically has a simple geometric pattern and the foot has ornately embroidered animals or patterns. Buy a pre-made sinh beautifully embroidered or find fabric to your liking and have one tailored specifically for you. Matching sashes and silk blouses finish off the temple-ready look with class.
Beer Lao Tee shirt
No single product is more ubiquitous in Laos than Beer Lao. The bright yellow advertisements adorn everything from umbrellas to restaurant signs, billboards and napkin holders throughout the country. Distribution of this award-winning pilsener by the Lao Brewing Company is more reliable and widespread than the mail. Follow them on Instagram and pick up a t-shirt to remind yourself of the refreshing brew served in tiny glasses over ice.
Plumeria alba, colloquially called “champa” is the national flower of Laos. You’ll see t-shirts and embroidery featuring the five-pedaled flower with a yellow center. Jewelry, magnets and other trinkets show the simple beauty of Laos through the champa. Even a popular brand of Lao-Lao rice whiskey is named after the flower. The sweet-smelling champa is also used in incense and essential oils.
Lao Bumper Sticker
As part of registering a vehicle in Laos, a white oval sticker with the country code LAO must be visible on the outside. Reminiscent of European requirement before EU license plates began integrating country codes into the plate, the LAO sticker is everywhere. Drivers in Laos drive on the right side of the road, until they cross one of the Friendship Bridges to Thailand, where people drive on the left. These stickers can be found in souvenir shops throughout the country.
Bamboo weaving remains an important craft, because the Lao people use woven baskets to make and store glutinous sticky rice, a key staple of their diet. The bamboo is grown in the wild and the variety of styles and pattern along with the low price tag make basketry an ideal and lightweight souvenir. While women dominate the textile weaving of Laos, it’s just as often older men who are responsible for making the beautiful bamboo and rattan vessels. Want to try your hand at basket weaving? Backstreet Academy and Ock Pop Tok in Luang Prabang offer workshops and classes.
Sculptural art depicting the Buddha can be found in markets in Luang Prabang, Pakse or Vientiane. Antique wood carvings may be illegally stolen from temples then sold, so buy newly carved Buddhas to protect Lao cultural heritage. Ban Nong Bueng in southern Laos is a woodcarving village where visitors can meet the artisans and watch them work. The Ta Oy people formed the village in the 1800s and sell statues, masks, candleholders as well as custom-made commissions.
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