Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the northern part of Laos. Luang Prabang is an enchanting little city with a European quaintness (including French-influenced archetecture) mixed with Asian heritage (including several temples), and natural wonders (like caves and water falls)!
Luang Prabang was the seat of the Royal Lao government, when Laos was a kingdom called Lan Xang (million elephants in English). One can tour the former palace for a small taste of the rich history in Luang Prabang.
I have alot to say about “LBP”, but today I want to share fun shopping finds from the Luang Prabang night market.
Independent vendors and craftswomen present their wares to passers by each night on the main street. Through traffic is not allowed, and items are spread out on blankets, tarps, and small tables for inspection.
My first visit was in 2005, with a wee baby Jojo (I would like to point out that this is the only time in my 5 years of Laos that I wore shorts in public! I’m not sure what emboldened me; I was sort of “on vacation” and it was also during a big festival time. If you DO plan a visit to Laos I advise against bringing shorts (capris are fine) out of respect for the culture):
Lots of needle work is available at the night markets; most of it is said to be done by those in the Hmong minority tribe. Apparently they are well known for their needlework expertise. Many of the designs are created just to appeal to tourists; they look pretty but they don’t hold any significant “meaning”.
I got this quilt in 2005. It is embroidered with a folk tale (including words in English):
Here is a close up of one of my favorite frames:
The people featured in the embroidery are dressed in traditional Hmong clothing. This person is “Jer”, a character in the story.
These weren’t yet “invented” on my trip in 2005, but newly available in 2008 are these great embroidered children’s books:
They say the name of the item in three languages! (English, Lao, and ?? maybe Hmong?)
Although there is a mistake in our “food” book. An apple is incorrectly labeled as a “mango” in Lao. But if you can’t read Lao, don’t worry!
I think these are superbly unique souvenirs that can be enjoyed for a long time. After your kids are grown, these cute little books can be framed for display.
If you know anyone traveling through Laos, be sure to tell them to bring you back one of these fun finds!