Published/Last edited or updated: 2nd June, 2018
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.
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 demonstration.
Productivity and Marketing Center of Oudomxay T: (081) 212 803 https://www.facebook.com/pmc.oudomxay Mo–Fr 08:00–12:00 & 13:30–16:30.
Provincial Tourism Information Centre http://www.oudomxay.infowww.oudomxay.info
Tailue Handicraft main road just east of the bridge Open daily 08:30-20:30.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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