crafty community shopping in laos

women in laosBringing home souvenirs is a wonderful way to keep your travel memories alive, but when shopping for precious mementos it’s important to make responsible purchases. For example, be certain that products are not made from endangered species and try to buy locally produced items. Intrepid’s Carl Needham shares his tips on responsible shopping in Laos

“When we go on holiday we all love to shop for souvenirs and handcrafted products. A really good way to support local communities and to put money back into the countries we visit is to buy handicrafts from local villages or cooperatives.

In Laos you’ll find of the most exquisite silk and cotton weavings. The artistic techniques have been passed down from generation to generation and the patterns all have a meaning to the lives of the local people. One organisation that excels in spreading the income is Ock Pop Tok, or East Meets West. Based in Luang Prabang, the business provides a livelihood for over 200 families and is committed to fair trade practices. The centre also encourages visitors to learn more about Laos textiles and you can join in a weaving class that will give you an insight in Laos culture and the significance of weaving.

On the outskirts of Luang Prabang there are several other artisan villages. Ban Chan potter village produces a variety of clay pottery or visit the village of Had Hian to watch the traditional skills of the blacksmiths as they make household and farming tools. Remember when shopping at these places not to bargain too hard, because that 50 cents you save is a meal for the artisan and their family.”

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* photo by Lea McQuillan – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll read about Sue's travel experiences, find helpful travel advice and she loves sharing great tales from Intrepid travellers.

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