Food in Laos
The staple in Laos 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.
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.
In addition to purely Lao food,
culinary imports from other countries
are common. Khao jii pat-te, French
baguettes stuffed with pâté, and foe (pho)
noodles from Vietnam 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.
Drink in Laos
national drink of Laos is the ubiquitous
and tasty Beerlao, made with Laotian
jasmine rice and one of the few Lao
exports. It maintains an almost mythical
status amongst travelers and world beer
The yellow logo with its tiger-head
silhouette can be seen everywhere, and a
large 640 ml bottle shouldn't cost more
than 12,000 to 15,000 kip in
restaurants. It's available in three
versions: original (5%), Dark (6.5%) and
Light (2.9%). The brewery claims they
have 99% market share, yet you can get
Carlsberg (from the same brewery) and
Heineken (imported from Thailand) - but
why would you?
Rice liquor, known as lao-lao, is widely
available and at less than US$0.30 per
750 ml bottle is the cheapest way to get
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
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 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.
sourced and adapted from WikiTravel.org