We’ve been to markets all over the world–they’re a great way to kill time, people watch, and maybe get something to eat. However, they’re usually full of mass-produced crap from China, and often if you even look at the merchandise the sellers will start in with their overly-loud pitch–“Buy nice shirt! Only $5!” When you say no thank you and start to walk away, they usually keep yelling prices. “Okay, for you $3! Okay, $2!” It is exhausting, and I hate it. I hate bartering, and I hate being hassled. Matt does a whole lot better than me–but I often worry he gets too into it, and then I accuse him of being a cheapskate. Overall, that hustle and hassle environment is not good for us!
Thankfully, in Laos people don’t like to talk about money (they think it’s rude), and so therefore bartering is not common. You still see it a bit, but it’s nothing like other places in Asia. In the Luang Prabang Night Market, you can freely roam amongst the tents, look as long as you like, and no one will bother you. The sellers will say hello and smile, and then they let you shop in peace. After coming from Vietnam, this was pure bliss for me. We never worried about getting ripped off, because the prices were often set. We never had to feel guilty as we walked away from a stall, trying to ignore a seller calling out to us or trying to shove merchandise into our hands. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the night market in Luang Prabang is fantastic! There are (of course) still many mass-produced items, but compared to other markets in Asia, we felt that there were also a lot more handmade items in this market. We did a lot of Christmas shopping in Laos!
The Luang Prabang Night Market is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night, and it’s located on Sisavangvong Road near the Luang Prabang National Museum.
Have you had any experience with bartering? Do you love it or hate it?