Food & Drinks
Street restaurant in Luang Prabang

Food & Drinks

Lao Food
Laos is a country of multi-ethnic group and each group has its own version of traditional cuisine. On the general level, Lao cuisine is fresh and spicy. The country's cuisine can be best described as blend of more Thai cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine and Chinese cuisine.

The common ingredients for Lao food includes: rice (both glutinous and ordinary rice), fresh water fish, chicken, pork, beef, mung bean sprouts, mint, lettuce, basil, coriander, hot chilli, ginger, garlic, tamarind juice, lime juice..and various kinds of other herbs. Seasonings used in Lao cuisine includes fermented fish sauce concocted with chilli and herbal leaves, soya sauce...

For the Lao people, a meal includes rice and other dishes. The rice is normally sticky rice and usually for a Lao meal, not another dish but many other dishes accompany rice including soup, vegetables and meat. And the Lao people would eat in party both at home and when going to restaurants, eating alone is not common for the Lao.

It's very normal to eat most dishes (with the exception of sauce, soup and broth) with their hand; so it's very common that in some Lao traditional restaurants, dining tools such as spoons, forks or chopsticks are not provided unless asked for specifically. Instead the diners are offered with a basin of water to wash their hands.

The staple food in Laos is steamed glutinous rice which is contained in a bamboo basket covered with a lid. The Lao carry the basket to work in the field, on the Mekong River or to their rice terraces in the mountains.

Laap is another traditional and popular dish of Lao cooking. It is made from chopped meat, chicken or duck mixed with uncooked and smashed rice, garlic, unions, mints and hot chillies. Laap is served with a plate of herbal vegetables or mung bean sprout, and sticky rice. The common practice is to put laap into the herbal leaves, wrap it and eat it with a ball of sticky rice. Laap can be cooked or can be uncooked, can be very spicy or not that spicy.

Another fresh and healthy dish is the salad made from shredded or sliced green papaya fruits, fermented fish, mint leaves, garlic, chillies, crushed peanuts, and lime juice or vinegar.

White rice noodle is also a popular dish for the Lao as snack rather than for the main meal. The noodles can come into thin threads or big round ones. Noodles are often served in spicy broth and accompanied by fresh herbal leaves and chillies.

Also there are many street vendors, restaurants, food shops and cafes in towns on your travel routes which offer Western food and fast food, Chinese food, Vietnamese food. When travelling in rural areas and remote areas, you may encounter exotic dishes or food from endangered animals, or simply just not well cooked food that may be not suitable for a fragile stomach of the travellers, so check carefully to make sure you know what to order from the menu.

Lao Drink
Purified drinking water is available in almost all towns of the country. You don't have to bother bringing it from home. For trekking and adventure tours which involve remote areas, this is normally arranged by the tour company or the local operator.

Coffee and tea are popular drinks in Laos and can be found at all tourist destinations. Lao coffee is strong and can be served with sweet condensed-milk. Green tea is also available at many restaurants and cafes. Some travellers find it difficult to sleep at night after consuming this strong coffee or local tea.

Soft drinks can be found all over the country.  They are all imported, and relatively expensive compared to standards.

Beer Lao seems to be the best local beer in Laos. Beer Lao can come in can or in big bottles for very reasonable prices.

Lao Lao is the most popular rice spirit. If you take a boat tour to the Pak Ou Cave, you are likely to have a stop and have a try of Lao Lao at Ban Xang Hai, a very famous place for Lao Lao.