Whether you’ve grown tired of shopping at traditional local markets or have a yearning for groceries from your home country, or are in urgent need of some dairy products, there is now a growing list of supermarkets and minimarts in Vientiane.
Retail options have significantly improved over the last decade in the Lao capital, and it’s a good thing given the Thai visa restrictions in recent years. This list tries to cover some of the popular options to fill up your expat shopping trolley.
When paying for anything in Laos cash is still king so you’ll never have a problem with anyone accepting kip, and while not officially encouraged, many outlets also accept foreign currency. Just ask and check the exchange rate.
There have been significant strides forward in electronic transactions recently with many outlets having card swipe machines and even numerous smaller retailers offering QR code-based payment via local bank smartphone apps – BCEL One Pay being the most obvious example. Most outlets have window or counter signage telling you what they accept.
As previously reported by J&C Services, Rimping Supermarket has become a magnet for hungry expats since it opened its doors around four years ago with the best range of imported groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, and dairy products in town plus a dedicated delicatessen, bakery and more. They also use biodegradable corn-based plastic bags. Located in Viewmall, 7 km along 13 South Road, Phakhao Village, Xaythany District.
Phone: 030 9988 333
Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.
Located on Rue Hengboun in the heart of downtown, Home Ideal has a considerable range of imported grocery lines stocked in its spacious aisles and a side door leads you into the adjacent department store.
Accepts credit cards.
Open every day 9:30 am to 9 pm.
Among the plethora of smartphone shops along Dongpalane Road sits D-Mart which features a decent range of imported groceries as well as a department store. There’s also a bakery out the front and plenty of convenient parking out the back.
Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.
Starting with just one jam-packed convenience store in Phonkeng Village, J Mart has now grown to three outlets with the addition of the larger Xang Khoo Super Store (on the left just before the 450 Road lights) and the recently opened store at That Luang Plaza. Offers a mix of Asean-sourced imported groceries and others from further afield. Boasts a wide variety of baby products and toiletries/cosmetics. Quite possibly the best value for money option.
Open 9 am to 8:30 pm (to 6:30 pm on Sunday).
This vast store which opened in 2018 in Donkoy Village (on the new concrete road, about 500 m off Kamphengmeuang Road) features a reasonable range of (predominantly Thai-sourced) products with dedicated fruit and vegetable, meat, and pharmacy sections and more. Not a lot in the way of breakfast cereals though and prices similar to other outlets. Covered parking bays and air conditioning add to customer comfort.
Open daily 6 am to 12 midnight.
ATMs at front door. Accepts BCEL One Pay.
Situated in the basement of Lao-ITECC Mall, Sky Supermarket is a spacious store but doesn’t offer that much in the way of western-style imported groceries. Plenty of kitchenware. Accepts credit cards.
Open every day 9:30 am to 10 pm.
Mini Big C (recently rebranded from M-Point Mart)
This chain of minimarts has become as familiar to Vientiane residents as the sound of squeaky tuk-tuk brakes pulling up at traffic lights. Their outlets are pretty much in every suburb. They offer a reasonable range of essentials including fresh milk, bread and eggs and live up to the convenience store name by being open daily 6 am to 12 midnight.
K-Mart and K-Mart HHI
K-Mart (just off Dongpayna Road near Sengdara Fitness) and K mart HHI (on Sokpaluang Road near the German Embassy) cater to your Korean grocery needs.
Open daily 8 am to 9 pm and 7:30 am to 9 pm respectively.
Minimarts – Special Mentions
Long-established Si Muang Minimart is conveniently located on Rue Samsenthai, not far from the historic temple of the same name. It caters to just about every culinary and grocery desire of expats and is noted for its own freshly baked bread.
Open daily 7:30 am to 8 pm.
Phone 020 5454 0066.
Situated in the heart of ‘Falang Town’ (Sisattanak District) on Rue Lao-Thai, Phonesili Minimart offers a good range of overseas food and wine to delight your taste buds.
Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.
Siavone minimart, on the corner of Sokpaluang Rd and Soy 10 in Thongkang Village is another outlet that has just about everything you would want, including a variety of meats, dairy products and bread.
Open weekdays 7:15 am to 9 pm, weekends from 8 am to 9 pm.
Still looking for something?
While more developed logistics have helped shoppers in recent years, you might find yourself searching in various locations for what you want. If you still can’t find the item that you’re after, why not join the Expat Laos Facebook page and post an enquiry there? Someone else is bound to have been searching for what you’re seeking.
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by Shane Marshall, copyright J&C Services 08/2019