Photo: Support local communities.

Handicrafts

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In a town that has cheaply made goods flowing through from China, Vietnam and Thailand, it’s important to remember that Udomxai province is home to several ethnic minorities trying to maintain their handicraft traditions. Here’s a few ways to see and support them.





The unremarkably named PMC shop (an acronym for the Productivity and Marketing Center of Oudomxay) sells and promotes handicrafts made in villages around the province. Buy some one-of-a-kind handmade items unique to Udomxai like natural-dyed cotton scarves and blankets, as well as exquisite kheuapiad. Fibre from kheuapiad vines are split and laboriously twisted by hand to form a string, then twisted together with others to form a thicker and stronger string that is then hand woven into cool-looking bags. Prices are a steal for the amount of work. The PMC shop is located on the road to Phongsali, beside the Department of Industry and Commerce, a block from Charming Lao Hotel. It looks like a government building but follow the driveway up the hill.

Ideal gifts for friends and family back home—or for yourself! Photo taken in or around Handicrafts, Udomxai, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Ideal gifts for friends and family back home—or for yourself! Photo: Cindy Fan

A group of Tai Lue weavers specialising in natural-dye, handwoven cotton have opened a retail shop Tailue Handicraft on the main road just east of the bridge. Here you’ll find soft scarves starting at just 50,000 kip, blankets, table runners and pouches. We’re glad we found it—the scarf we bought helped us survive a freezing boat trip down the Nam Ou.

For those interested in seeing handicrafts in the village, the Provincial Tourism Information Centre can organise tours to the Ban Nyor, an ethnic Tai Lue village 57 kilometres from Udomxai famous for its cotton weaving, pottery and bamboo basketry. The two-day program includes Ban Thameun, another Tai Lue weaving village, homestay in Ban Nyor and a chance to try all three crafts. Price of the program is 990,000 kip per person, based on two.

Finally, Ban Nalae is a village 3 km from town that makes khao poon, fermented rice vermicelli, one of the main noodles eaten in Laos. Check with the tourism office on when’s the best time to visit to see a ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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