Monday, 12 September 2016


Today, let's explore the music shopping scene in Vientiane.
Transportation: You can rent a cheap bicycle at your hotel or guest house, the city is not very big and the streets are safe.
Curency: As I come from Thailand I use Thai baht there (you can use it everywhere in the country or use the local kip curency if you stay there for a while).
The entrance of the talad sao mall
If you arrive by bus in Vientiane, the central bus station area is actually the place to look around if you want to buy some music (avoid buying anything inside the bus station, it's only pirated copies). On your back is the morning market "talad sao" and in front is the old shopping mall "talad sao mall". Enter the shopping mall by the door right in front of the bus station (on your right, you will find the bikes parking area). You will see the electronic and stereo equipments and a few meters away, right in front of you are the music shops. Most of the shops are on the ground level, the one on your left still carry some brand new tapes while the others on the right focus on CDs and VCDs. There is also a few shops on the 3rd floor of the same building carrying more tapes (for a cheaper price) and the same CDs and VCDs (take the stairs on your left and you will find those without troubles).
That's it, all you can expect to find in Vientiane will be at this place but well, you will find a lot more than you can carry anyway.
The tapes: Most are brand new, from old stocks from the late 90's and early 2000's, molam and other genres (you won't be abble to spot any differences on the covers exept off course if you can read Thai or Lao). Tapes goes from 30 to 65 Thai baht. I have already all the molam tapes still available there so you can expect to ear the most interesting ones here sooner or later.
CDs / VCDs: It's of course the largest part of the music available here. Don't forget to look at the logos on the covers so you can see what you buy: VCDs can be traditional dances, concerts, or karaoke. CDs can be regular CDs or MP3 CDs (containing up to 6 albums). If I remember well, all is at the same price (around 60/65b) for original material. 
The quality of both tapes and CDs is great and you will only regret that you did not buy more.
Nobody in the records shops can speak english and you will usually get the total price of your purchases on a pocket calculator. The tapes will usually be over priced (still very cheap) but if you can't comunicate it won't be easy to bargain, the CDs should be your first choice then. Hard to bargain at such a low price but if you buy many, you can ask for 1 or 2 extras for free (the locals would bargain too). You should keep in mind some Laotian lam genres as quite a few CDs focus on 1 particular style (lam phutai, lam tangwai, lam saravane, lam doen...). Those CDs usually feature many singers on the cover. The other CDs usually have 1 singer (or a couple) performing different genres.
Next week I'll post an option to find some lam Lao in Bangkok.

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