Run into some crazy stuff on your stroll through the morning market
Visiting Luang Namtha’s morning market is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of Lao local life. People from Luang Namtha and nearby villages come here to buy their fruits and vegetables, new clothes or tools like machetes. People from villages near the jungle come here as well to sell jungle meat and edible plants that they’ve foraged from the jungle.
If you go to the market by bicycle or motorbike, you can park your vehicle in the ‘parking lot’, near the main entrance, for a mere one thousand kip. Directly behind the parking lot, you will find Lao women sitting on little stools next to a mat on which they’ve displayed their produce. Bananas, spring onion, coriander, cabbages and other local vegetables, fruits and herbs are for sale here. And don’t forget to have a look at the local delicacies, like these fried silk worms!
When you enter the covered section of the market, you will immediately pick up the fragrance of numerous different spices. Stroll along the stalls to find dried noodles and cooking oils next to the spices. Here you will find a lot of small containers filled with all sorts of seasoning, like fish or chilli paste. And what would be a better way to kill time if it’s not busy than watching soaps?
Those with strong stomachs can continue walking on the far side of the market there they will find the meat section of the market. Intestines, buffalo skin and even pigs’ faces can be found here. The sales women keep themselves busy shooing away the flies with plastic bags attached to the end of thin bamboo sticks.
A little bit further down are basins with live fresh water fish. Other live animals for sale here include chicken and duck. Local people choose the fittest, or the fattest, chickens and ducks for their dinners.
In the back, by the huge sacks of rice, are minority people, who have come from out of town to sell their edible plants and leaves that they’ve foraged from the jungle. And next them, the seamstresses are sitting at their sowing machines to repair clothes.
Getting hungry from all of this shopping? By now you will have reached the stalls with local dishes. Treat yourself to a noodle soup, some freshly prepared jungle food or fried bananas. You can also try a typical Asian dessert: fluorescent coloured jellies served in a plastic bag with sweet coconut milk.
If you happen to have have run out of toiletries, go and have a look at the tiny shops at the right. Here you can stock up on toothpaste, shampoo and soap.
Do you want to get yourself a souvenir other than the bracelets the Akha-ladies sell on Luang Namtha’s streets? At Luang Namtha’s day market you can get yourself handicrafts made from rattan, like tiny boxes to serve sticky rice in or a handmade wooden mortar and pestle.
But of course you can also treat yourself to a freshly brewed bottle of Lao Lao, the local rice whiskey that Laos is famous for.
Looking for something a little more crazy or funny? Go inside the market on the right and get lost between all the Chinese clothing and shoe shops. It won’t take long for you to find all kinds of hilarious T-shirts and flipflops. And honestly, who doesn’t want to go home with these?