Culinary Adventures
Comments 4

Fresh Food Markets in Luang Prabang, Laos

Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth a visit to the fresh food markets in Luang Prabang. There are no supermarkets here and locals buy fresh food daily from the markets. Markets in Auckland are a weekend activity and even then, only a small percentage of the population actually do their shopping at markets.

I love seeing all the ingredients in their uncooked state. Ingredients look so fresh and lovely in daylight. When was the last time you bough vegetables that hadn’t seen fluorescent lights?

The tourists here are just touristing, people don’t tend to cook while on holiday. We eat out a lot instead. There were plenty of familiar things at the market and also lots of unfamiliar  stuff to concern yourself with. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but where do you think the local restaurants get their fresh meat and produce from?

Street Food

There are plenty of snacks to be found at every corner.

Fresh Meat

This uncovered, tepid meat might horrify the NZ Food Safety Authority, but think about it for a minute. The meat you see in these markets are barely dead. They are super fresh and nothing sits out long enough to go bad. If it’s left out too long, it spoils. That is not good business. The locals know what fresh meat looks like. The meat you see in our supermarkets back home could be weeks old. The wonders of refrigeration hides the vintage of most meats and most of us don’t know what fresh meat looks like anymore. We look for the brightest hues but that’s not always a sign the meat is good.

Chickens tend to have heads and feet intact. They look large and lean. They are probably adults and might have lived for half a year or more. Nothing like the pumped up, fully grown at 6 weeks old, farmed birds we know.

Any cut you could want.

Apparently when cooked, this stuff is smooth like tofu. I didn’t give a whirl while in Laos, but many cultures eat blood foods. I tried blood pudding a few years back and it was delicious.


Flowers for gifting and for religious use.

Flowers for eating.

The familiar

Big tubs of different kinds of rice. I love rice! They eat both steamed rice and sticky rice in Laos.

The locals found it amusing when we all stopped to take photos of papaya and bananas.

Garlic and chili are a well known duo in many of the world’s cuisines.

Fish from the river.

Many kinds of vegetables. I knew most of them, the ones that I didn’t, I bet I could guess what they would be like.

The slightly exotic

Spicy and aromatic bark, roots, vine branches and stalks are for local recipes.

I’ve only really seen these mushrooms in dried form. Get them here fresh!

Balled up portions of seaweed. Not sure how these are used.

The unfamiliar

These birds were in tiny colourful cages. These are not for eating, but for good karma. You buy a bird, set it free and feel good about yourself for the rest of the day. Or you could buy one as a nice gift for someone (not to take back to your country of course).

These moles might have the same purpose, or they might be pets or the might be food. All I know is that they didn’t enjoy the morning light at all and were frantically trying to burrow under each other.

I have no idea if these toads are for karma, companionship or for nourishment.

I have no idea what these little crabs were for, but bound together like this, it looked like a tambourine for The Little Mermaid.

Luang Prabang Market Tips:

  1. Take your camera.
  2. Don’t hold up other people, it can be busy, especially if there are bunch of tourists blocking the path because they’re trying to get the perfect banana photo.

Luang Prabang Market Highlights:

  1. All the weird and wonderful things.


  1. Majority of homes in Laos still doesn’t have the refrigerator. Most of folks prefer to shop daily for their fresh produces. I love the morning market in Luangprabang. I miss that place.

    • Bunny Eats Design says

      That’s a good point Seeharhed. I have a refrigerator but I also prefer to shop as often as possible. The Western tradition of shopping once a week is not enough for me. I shopped 2 times today!

  2. John E Strom says

    Thanks for your great site and nice photos of the food market. Rest assured that all of those strange critters will end up in a cooking pot. They ARE food. Asians don’t waste much time or energy on pets. They eat them! 🙂

    • Bunny Eats Design says

      But I spend lots of time and energy on my pet. As much as I spend on food! Many non-asians would eat my rabbit in a heartbeat.

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