There are many shops in the central district of Vientiane along Setthathirath and Samsenthai, selling a mixture of silks, handicrafts, jewelry, and clothing. They tend to get more upmarket the farther east you get closer to Wat Phu. It is a compact area so it is easy to browse your way along both streets without expending too much energy or shoe leather. We have listed some businesses, but the best thing to do is just wander by and see what takes your fancy. Virtually all sell a similar mixture of Buddha images, silk, clothing, woodcarving, and jewelry.
The other place to shop is the main morning market of Talat Sao. The days when Vientiane yielded bargains of any kind are long, long gone and if you find yourself bargaining be aware that your interlocutor will have a lifetime of daily experience at the sharp end. Keep smiling and don't be worried about walking away if you suspect you're getting ripped off.
Talat Khua Ding, near Talat Sao Bus Station, is the main market for fresh food. If you get the urge to put together your own meal or feast on bread, cheese, and wine on the balcony of your hotel, head to the Phimpone Market (Setthathirath Rd.; open daily 7:30am-9pm) and Phimpone Market 2 (on the corner of Samsenthai and Chanta Khoummane; open daily 8am-8:30pm). They have entirely different owners and Phimpone 2 has less variety and is more expensive. Both sell a range of wines, cheeses, and other fancy delicacies from far away. They also sell practical items such as stationary and shampoo.
There are a number of covered markets in Vientiane selling everything from handicrafts to car parts. They tend to open early at about 8am and close early at 4pm. By 5pm they are all but deserted.
Handicraft Products of Ethnic Groups -- You'll find this shop beside Talat Sao, the main morning market. They sell handicrafts from all over the country. If you aren't traveling farther afield, this is a good place to discover what is on offer in different regions.
Talat Thong Khan Kham -- This market is north of the center of the city and like Talat Sao covers all the bases in terms of shopping whether it is silks, pottery, or footwear.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.