Lao food differs from the cuisine in neighboring Thailand. The influence of French colonial rule on Laos shows in staples such as baguettes as well as in the great-value French fare to be found in major cities. However, every region of Laos boasts its own unique specialties. Here are a few foods and activities not to miss when you’re in Luang Prabang.
Laos runs on sticky rice and fish, served every which way, but there are plenty of other dishes to discover. Be sure to try laap, a spicy salad of minced, marinated meat or fish that can be served raw or cooked; the breakfast noodle soup feu, Laos’ answer to Vietnam’s pho; and tam mak hoong, a tangy salad made with green papaya. Kaipen—dried river weed, Luang Prabang’s answer to Japanese nori—and the herbaceous, spicy pork sausage known as sai oua are city signatures. No Luang Prabang night out would be complete without a bottle of the national brew, Beer Lao, and a shot of the rice “whiskey” known as lao-lao, but you may want to avoid consuming versions that contain animals.
- Rise early to see a morning market in full swing, soon after the monks parade through the streets in search of alms.
- Take a cooking class with a local family in a traditional home.
- Discover local specialties at Khaiphaen, a restaurant that trains street children and vulnerable youth for hospitality careers.
- Sip a cold Beer Lao as the sun sinks into the Mekong.
- Savor a street food feast at the night market.