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Pick your own juice - in Laos.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Laos

Laos Restaurants & Eating

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Lao cuisine is very similar to the food eaten in the north-eastern Isaan region of Thailand: being very spicy, more often bitter than sweet, and using lots of fresh herbs and vegetables served raw. Some of the raw vegetables can be used to cool your mouth when the chilis are overwhelming.


Rice is the staple carbohydrate. The standard kind is sticky rice (khao niaow), eaten by hand from small baskets called tip khao. Using your right hand, pinch off a bit, roll into a ball, dip and munch away.


The national dish is laap (also larb), a "salad" of minced meat mixed with herbs, spices, lime juice and, more often than not, blistering amounts of chili. Unlike Thai larb, the Lao version can use raw meat (dip) instead of cooked meat (suk), and if prepared with seafood makes a tasty if spicy carpaccio.

Tam Maak Hung

Another favourite is tam maak hung, the spicy green papaya salad known as som tam in Thailand, but which the Lao like to dress with fermented crab (pudem) and a chunky, intense fish sauce called pa daek, resulting in a stronger flavor than the milder, sweeter Thai style. Other popular dishes include ping kai, spicy grilled chicken, and mok pa, fish steamed in a banana leaf.

Khao Jil Pat-Te and Pho

In addition to purely Lao food, culinary imports from other countries are common. Khao jii pat-te, French baguettes stuffed with pate;, and foe (pho) noodles from China are both ubiquitous snacks particularly popular at breakfast. Note that foe can refer both to thin rice noodles (Vietnamese pho) as well as the wide flat noodles that would be called kuay tiow in Thailand.


Lao coffee (kaafeh) is widely reckoned to be amongst the best in the world. It's grown on the Bolaven Plateau in the south; the best brand is Lao Mountain Coffee. Unlike Thai coffees, Lao coffee is not adulterated with ground tamarind seed. To make sure you aren't fed overpriced Nescafé instead, be sure to ask for kaafeh thung. By default in lower end establishments, kaafeh lao comes with sugar and condensed milk; black coffee is kaafeh dam, coffee with milk (often, however, you'll get non-dairy creamer) is kaafeh nom.

Tap water

Tap water is not drinkable, but bottled water is cheap and widely available.
There is not much nightlife outside of Vientiane and Vang Vieng. To have a beer in some places, simply visit a restaurant.

Restaurants in Laos

Cafe, Light Food, Soups, Tea Coffee House
Open eatery with a comprehensive Thai Menu, lattes and cappuccinos, great fruit shakes, plus friendly atmosphere.
in Luang Nam Tha
International Minority Restaurant
One of the few options that stands out in any way, this little joint is run by a husband and wife from the Black Tai (Tai Dam) tribe and specializes in tribal cuisine, with Tai Dam, Akha and Lisu dishes on offer. It's fairly simple stuff, but still a nice c... more
in Luang Nam Tha
Indian Aysha Indian Restaurant
(Formerly Yamuna Restaurant)Offers good northern and southern India food as well delicious Indian breakfasts. A good alternative if you want to get a respite from Lao food. Owner is an Indian from Tamil Nadu who married a local Lao. 20 000-40 000 kips per person.
in Luang Nam Tha
International Panda Restaurant
Just a 2 minute walk away from the main area of town, with a nice second floor patio with views over rice paddies. It has a friendly owner and good food that's not overpriced. Make sure to try their fruit shakes as they are the biggest in town.
in Luang Nam Tha
Fast Food Hungry Burger
Hungry Burger's claim is true — The burger you're about to unwrap is the best in town — Hungry Burgers is definitely a solid competitor for its price range. Whether you want pork, beef or chicken, all the burgers from this sidewalk stand ar... more
Low Budget, in Vientiane
Vietnamese Noodle shops
can be found all over the town. They typically serve Vietnamese-type noodle soups (pho), often also fried rice and other rice or noodle-based dishes. Prices are very moderate: around 1 USD for a large bowl or plate. There really is no need to go hungry in this t... more
Low Budget, in Vientiane
Local Ban Anou Night Market
is only about 1 block long and starts setting up at sundown, but it has some of the best cheap eats in town. There's a wide range of street snacks available, including pho made with handpulled noodles, little lettuce wrapped snacks with peanut filling (miang... more
Low Budget, in Vientiane
International Along the river
dozens of unpretentious restaurants and beer gardens, from opposite the BCEL bank strung along the Mekong for approximately 2km upriver (those upstream from the main beach promenade are generally cheaper). All are pleasant places for a beer and a snack or a comp... more
Low Budget, in Vientiane
Indian Nazim Indian Restaurant
on the Mekong river road: decent Indian food. Their washroom is not the cleanest in the country, perhaps because the patrons of some of the eateries on the river bank are directed here for certain needs (when they are not simply sent down to the reeds at the wat... more
Low Budget, in Vientiane
Indian Taj Mahal Restaurant
just south of the National Culture Hall, has good Indian food at good prices, if you don't mind listening to American pop music.
Low Budget, in Vientiane
These are just 10 of 97 Restaurants in Laos. Show more.

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