Luang Prabang, Laos
Photo courtesy of Ock Pop Tok
Downtown ShoppingOften run by the owners themselves, the many small, independent boutiques in Luang Prabang offer a relaxed shopping experience, without any pushy staff or hard sells. Among the places to spend your hard-earned dollars are quaint jewelry shops, handicraft outposts, a few souvenir stalls, and a couple of fabulous textile stores. Founded in 2000 by an Englishwoman and her Laotian partner, Ock Pop Tok is committed to fair trade and sustainable practices, selling beautiful fabrics made by Laotian women. Today, the store has three separate retail outlets as well as a craft center near the Mekong, a gallery, and a villa where it hosts various weaving projects. Also worth checking out is Passa Paa, which opened in 2017 as a contemporary design studio and boutique marrying traditional Hmong skills with modern printing methods. For a more visceral experience, visit the large, covered Phosi Market, where you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling everything from crafts, T-shirts, and shoes to health products, toiletries, and prepared food. Outside, the vendors hawk fresh fruits and vegetables, providing some beautiful photo ops.