Talat Sao Morning Market
Talat Sao Morning Market in Vientiane
Talat Sao is split into two distinct sections: The air-conditioned shopping mall (the only one in Laos) is the best place to find electronics, sports equipment and jewellery, while the cavernous original Morning Market is fairly overflowing with mass-produced silks, cheap T-shirts, trinkets and other souvenir type items. Talat Sao is the market to visit if you are looking for something in particular – although bear in mind that the catwalks of Paris and Milan are a long way from Vientiane.
Talat Sao Shopping Mall
Despite looking like a shopping mall in a provincial town rather than the flagship shopping destination of a capital city, Talat Sao mall is still a breath of fresh, air-conditioned air to many tourists battling with the tropical heat outside. There are a range of shops and services for tourists to enjoy over five floors, including a Big C supermarket, a three-screen cinema, a children’s play area with plenty of arcade games and flashing lights, and a food court on the fourth floor.
The clothes stores offer a practical range of items for work, school or leisure but don’t expect to find any cutting-edge fashion. When it comes to electronics, there have been many instances of replica products being sold as genuine so be careful and remember, if a price seems too good to be true, it usually is. There are also several banks and currency exchange services on the ground floor.
Talat Sao Morning Market
From early morning to mid-afternoon, Talat Sao is as bustling as it’s possible to get in Vientiane. The labyrinth of alley ways stock a mish-mash of products using the ‘stack them high, sell them cheap’ philosophy. Although the market can be quite disorientating, it is clean and walkways are tiled. A visit to the Morning Market is a genuine experience, with traders coming from all over Laos to sell and source products. The city bus station adjoins the market creating a scene of constant coming-and-going that contrasts sharply with the rest of this rather sleepy city. Inside the open-air but under-cover market, sellers may pester you to look or try – just as in every market in Southeast Asia.
There are some excellent bargains to be had here, but there are also sections selling everything from buckets to second-hand washing machines which are of little interest to tourists. Still, the open air market is a thoroughly interesting place to explore and the best place to shop for those on a budget. All of the products on display at the touristy Riverside Night Market will have come directly from here, so it’s the place to come if you are hunting for the absolute best price and know how to haggle.
Talat Sao combines two very different shopping experiences in a central location where old and new Vientiane come together in an interesting mix, and, if you are travelling deeper into Laos, it is your absolute best chance to pick up any specific items and indulge in a bit of retail therapy.
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