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Home | Laos | Laos Activities | Recreation & Shopping in Laos
Recreation & Shopping in Laos

Sports
One of the few sports available to visitors to Laos is mountain biking, which is made more attractive by the relatively small number of motor vehicles on the road. Though serious bikers should bring their own, some bikes are available for hire in the larger towns.

Wildlife
Though threatened by deforestation, the flora and fauna of Laos is still abundant. Many rare and endangered species - including primates, mammals and birds inhabit the densely forested regions of the north and north east, while the Mekong River is home to freshwater dolphins and giant catfish. Unexploded bombs and mines left over from the Second Indochina War make the services of a professional guide essential.

Eating
Lao cuisine is very similar to its Thai neighbour's, and meals of spicy soup, sticky rice and chicken or laab are favourites with locals. Vientiane is serviced by several good French restaurants, a remnant of the country's colonial era, as are the baguettes and croissants are also widely available.

Drinking
Though tap water should be avoided, boiled water in thermos bottles is widely available, as are safe bottled mineral water and soft drinks. Beer Lao - the tasty and strong (5% alcohol) local brew - comes in either 300ml or 600ml bottles or in 2 litre jugs. The local rice whisky, Lao, Lao is a great favourite among the Lao people.

The central markets in Vientiane and Luang Prabang both offer a wide range of souvenirs, as do many of the cities' shops. However, while the majority of private shops have fixed prices, in the markets the art of bargaining still rules

Weaving
The art of weaving is still very much a home industry in Laos, where some of the finest silk and cotton weavers in the world can be found in the smallest of communities. Traditional designs and patterns vary from province to province, and the intricate work can be purchased much cheaper at the source than from many handicraft stores, markets and hotel shops. Antique woven pieces are still available but are becoming increasingly rare, often fetching very high prices.

Carving
From the simple and mundane, to the aesthetic and highly spiritual, Lao craftsmen can carve a wide variety of attractive pieces from wood, bone and stone.

Jewellery
The crafting of gold and silver jewelry is another skill at which the Lao people excel. Many of the best examples of silver jewelry to be found in the country are the work of several of the hilltribes. However, it should be noted that some silver and copper items exported from Laos are subject to tax according to weight. Gemstones, such as sapphires, can also be found at reasonable prices.

Artifacts
The export of antiques, such as Buddha images and other artifacts, is prohibited. Any antique items that have been purchased in another country must be declared to customs on arrival in Laos.

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