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.
Silver and Gold
Silversmiths use traditional tools that they’ve been using for generations to create beautiful designs depicting Buddha, Lao legends and nature. Precious metals are mined in the country and with a purity of 95-98%% for silver and 99% for gold, you’ll find higher quality wares at a lower price. Beware of imitations and know what you’re looking for. Try the Hmong Street Market in Vientiane or the Night Market in Luang Prabang.
Coffee is Laos’ largest cultural export with 95% of the coffee grown in Laos coming from the Bolevan Plateau. Cooler temperatures, plenty of rain and elevations reaching 4,200 feet (1,300 meters) above sea level make this region ideal for growing coffee. First planted by the French 100 years ago, most exports are Robusta, but internally you can also buy the sweeter Arabica bean. Some of it is certified organic but even those that don’t carry the label are often grown using organic farming principles by the 20,000 coffee farming families in the region. Visit Sinouk Coffee or Lao Mountain Coffee; both have growers in the south as well as locations in Vientiane.
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.