Luang Prabang’s Morning Market

LUANG PRABANG, Laos — Southeast Asia’s morning markets are much more interesting than the night markets. Luang Prabang’s morning market is no exception.

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Southeast Asia’s morning markets are much more interesting than the night markets. The night markets are mainly for tourists. Sure, you can find cheap t-shirts, knock-off backpacks, colorful paintings, and pretty lights. But you haven’t really come all this way for those, have you?

It’s at the morning markets that locals do their shopping. And it’s there that you get a real flavor of the local culture. Unless you’re in a major city, supermarkets are few and far between throughout much of the region. Which is a good thing. Markets are much, much better.

The morning market in Luang Prabang, lining a couple of quiet streets near the Royal Palace, starts early and is over by mid-morning. It sets up along a couple of side streets next to one of the city’s many Wats. A butcher and some of the more touristy stalls have actual tables for their wares. But most of the vendors, selling anything from rice, to fresh vegetables, to steamed fish, frogs, and anything else that might be the day’s catch, just set up on the ground. It’s an elegant solution–cheap, simple, and effective.

If you’re heading up to the Plain of Jars, the morning market in Phonsavan is well worth a visit.

Vendors stream in before dawn by foot. Others come from across the Mekong by riverboat, hauling their wares up the steep, muddy riverbank. By mid- to late-morning, they’re gone again until tomorrow.

If you’re after fresh fruit and vegetables, Mekong river fish, seaweed sheets, rice and grains, or fish wrapped in banana leaf ready to throw on the steamer, this is the place. And if you happen to have a craving for barbecued bamboo rat, you’re in luck!

Photos of Luang Prabang’s Morning Market

Luang Prabang Morning Market
A small shrine overlooking the market. License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Luang Prabang Morning Market Fish
Fish in bamboo steamers. License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Dried and salted fish and squid. License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Chilis at the Luang Prabang Morning Market
Small chili peppers known as Prik Ki Nu (Thailand) or Mak Pet Ki Nuu (Laos). License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Luang Prabang--02-COPYRIGHT-havecamerawilltravel.com.jpg
Fish wrapped in banana leaves for steaming to make Mok Pa. License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Luang Prabang Morning market
Sacks of rice. License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Luang Prabang Morning Market
Vendors up against the gate of the monastery. License this image Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

More About Luang Prabang’s Morning Market

  • The Luang Prabang Morning Market is a daily market in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, Laos.
  • The market operates from around 5:00 am until 10:00 am daily.
  • Local vendors sell a wide range of fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.
  • Traditional Laotian food and snacks are also available, providing an opportunity for visitors to sample local cuisine.
  • Handicrafts and souvenirs, such as textiles, wood carvings, and silverware, can be purchased at the market.
  • The morning market offers an authentic glimpse into daily life in Luang Prabang.

The Luang Prabang Morning Market is a bustling daily market held in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, Laos. Operating from around 5:00 am until 10:00 am, the market is an excellent place to observe the daily life of locals and experience the vibrant colors and flavors of Laotian culture.

Visitors to the market can find a wide array of fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Traditional Laotian food and snacks are also available, allowing travelers to sample local cuisine and indulge in authentic flavors. In addition to food items, the market features handicrafts and souvenirs, such as textiles, wood carvings, and silverware, providing an opportunity to purchase unique and locally made items.

What’s Nearby to the Morning Market in Luang Prabang

  • Royal Palace Museum: A well-preserved former royal residence, now housing a museum showcasing Laotian history and culture.
  • Mount Phousi: A hill in the city center offering panoramic views and a peaceful climb, topped by a Buddhist stupa.
  • Wat Xieng Thong: A historic Buddhist temple, considered one of the most beautiful and significant temples in Laos.
  • Mekong River: The famous river running alongside the city, offering boat tours and picturesque sunset views.

How to Get to the Morning Market in Luang Prabang

  • The Luang Prabang Morning Market is located in the city of Luang Prabang, Laos.
  • The nearest major airport is Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ), located approximately 4 kilometers from the city center.
  • From the airport, travelers can take a taxi or tuk-tuk to reach the city center, where the market is located.
  • Within the city, the market is easily accessible on foot, by bicycle, or by tuk-tuk.
  • And don’t forget to go early!

What to Know Before You Go

  • Go early.
  • It’s not primarily catering to tourists. There are a handful of stalls with souvenirs like woven bags, but it’s mostly a food market.
  • There’s no refrigeration for meat and fish. If you’re planning to buy anything perishable, know what you’re buying.
  • No, the vendors do not take credit cards–just cash.

Dive Deeper into Laos In These Books

If you’re looking to explore Laos more deeply on the written page, here are some books worth a look.

Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos, by Brett Dakin

This memoir recounts the experiences of the author as he works for the Lao government in the early 2000s, providing an insightful look at the country’s culture, people, and the challenges faced by a developing nation.

Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos
  • Dakin, Brett (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures of a Food Tourist in Laos, by Natacha Du Pont De Bie

A culinary travelogue that explores the rich and diverse cuisine of Laos, following the author as she samples various dishes and learns about the culture and traditions surrounding Laotian food.

Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures Of A Food Tourist In Laos
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bie, Natacha Du Pont De (Author)

Bamboo Palace: Discovering the Lost Dynasty of Laos, by Christopher Kremmer

This historical travelogue follows the author’s journey through Laos as he uncovers the history of the lost royal dynasty and the impact of the Vietnam War on the country.

Laos: A Journey Beyond the Mekong, by Ben Davies

This beautifully illustrated travelogue explores the diverse landscapes, culture, and history of Laos, providing a comprehensive and engaging look at the country.

Laos: A Journey Beyond the Mekong
  • The Best Picture Book on Laos in its second edition
  • All color photographs, portrait 25.5 x 27 cm, 132 pages

A Short Ride in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle, by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent

In this adventurous travelogue, the author embarks on a daring motorcycle journey along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which passes through Laos, providing insights into the country’s history and the challenges faced by modern-day Laos.

A Short Ride in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle
  • Bolingbroke-Kent, Antonia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Ravens: The True Story of a Secret War in Laos, Vietnam, by Christopher Robbins

This memoir recounts the experiences of American pilots who secretly participated in the covert war in Laos during the Vietnam War, offering a unique perspective on the conflict and its effects on the people of Laos.

Mekong: A Journey on the Mother of Waters, by Milton Osborne

In this travelogue, the author journeys along the Mekong River, which runs through Laos, exploring the history, culture, and natural beauty of the region.

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Travel Advice for Laos

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Laos (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Laos here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Laoshere.

General Information on Laos

The CIA's World Factbook contains a lot of good factual information Laos and is updated frequently.

  • Official Name: Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Population: Approximately 7.9 million (2023 est.)
  • Area: 236,800 sq km
  • Capital: Vientiane
  • Official Language: Lao
  • Government: Single-party socialist republic
  • Chief of State: President Thongloun Sisoulith (since 2021)
  • Head of Government: Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh (since 2021)
  • Legislature: Unicameral National Assembly
  • GDP (nominal): $19.57 billion (2021 est.)
  • GDP per capita (nominal): $2,643 (2021 est.)
  • Currency: Lao kip (LAK)
  • Major Ethnic Groups: Lao (53.2%), Khmou (11%), Hmong (9.2%), other (26.6%)
  • Religions: Buddhist (64.7%), Christian (1.7%), other (2.1%), none (31.4%)
  • Time Zone: Indochina Time (ICT), UTC+7

Laos originated from the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, which was founded in the 14th century under King FA NGUM. Lan Xang was influential for 300 years, extending its reach into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, and over all of modern-day Laos. After declining over centuries, Laos was ruled by Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century to the late 19th century. Later, Laos became part of French Indochina after that. The present-day Laotian border with Thailand was defined by the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907. In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government, ending a monarchy that lasted six centuries and installing a strict socialist regime that was closely aligned with Vietnam. Laos began a gradual and limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws in 1988. Laos joined ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »