At Ma Té Sai you will discover the richness of Lao cultural heritage; the skills, talents and creativity of hill tribes, and buy fine household items that will carry a piece of Laos back to your home.
What to experience ?
Ma Té Sai (which means “Where is it from?” in the Lao language) is a shop that showcases useful items from all over the country. At Ma Té Sai, you can buy gifts and objects for each room of the house: office, home, bathrooms, children’s rooms, library, pantry or wardrobe.
The diversity of Lao heritage will open your eyes to its richness: Akha and Tai Dam textiles from Luang Namtha, Tai Leu and Khamu weaving from Oudomxay, Traditional medicine from Bokeo, Ta Lieng bamboo weaving from Atta Peu, Katou textiles from Saravane, or Hmong modern crafts from Vientiane Province, local foods, and organic cosmetics are all sold, made by Lao villagers following their traditions, working in a respectful and empowering environment.
You don’t have to leave the shop as ignorant as when you entered, as you will be able to learn about each product with detailed explanations about where they are from, who made them, and how.
Ma Té Sai strives to protect ethnic traditions and identities through the marketing of handicraft from remote areas of Laos. They believe foreigners coming to Laos should be given an opportunity to discover the extraordinary diversity of crafts available.
Shopping at Ma Té Sai means bringing back home a little piece of Lao culture and history, sharing a bond with a talented Lao artisan and helping make their life a little bit easier with an additional income.
How does it help ?
The purpose of Ma Té Sai is double: to bring an income to populations who need it the most, and who are currently left out from the benefits of tourism and development. Secondly, to promote Lao culture and its incredibly rich diversity by offering an access to the market. For the food, an organic approach is encouraged in order to preserve the natural environment and limit negative impacts.
Products are directly bought from the villagers, from village cooperatives or vulnerable-group associations thus avoiding middlemen. The work ethic is respectful of traditions and culture, and of practical imperatives in remote villages such as the agricultural calendar. All products are the original designs of local producers. Ma Té Sai may make suggestions to modify certain products slightly in order to make them more attractive to foreign tourists, but they always encourage artisans to respect their traditions or personal styles. Opened in October 2010 they spent over 25,000 USD in 6 months on product development alone.
You will contribute to the preservation of the local cultural heritage with authentic handmade Lao products, made by villagers from the most remote and poor areas of the country, or by marginalised groups such as disabled women, ethnic groups, former drug users, etc.
Ma Té Sai: in Luang Prabang