9 Best Foods To Try In Vientiane, Laos

food in vientiane
| 5 min read

Laos is an exciting country to visit if you’re a foodie and Vientiane is a gateway to Laotian food. You will find all the popular and delicious Laotian foods in the nation’s capital. The Mekong River is the source of much of the food in Southeast Asia, so freshwater seafood is popular. Farming is also extremely common, so meat dishes consisting of pork, beef and chicken are common. In Southeast Asia, you must eat rice with every meal, and Laos is no exception. So, you will be able to try many rice dishes in Laos as well. Noodle soup is a popular breakfast and if you are more adventurous, you can even try eating a number of different insects like crickets or grasshopper. Here’s a look at nine foods you must try when you’re in Vientiane.

1. Lao Sausage

And sausage! Pretty long ones at that.
Source: Photo by Flickr user shankar s. used under CC BY 2.0

There are two main types of pork sausage you can try in Vientiane and they both go well with beer. These sausages are similar to the kind you would find in central Thailand. Sui oua is fatty pork mixed with spices such as galangal and kaffir lime leaf. Sai Krok is the better of the two and it’s worth trying if you like bizarre foods. Sai Krok differs in that this sausage is fermented for a few days, which gives it a sweet and tangy taste. Both sausages go well with Beer Lao. Simply head to a street food vendor and eat it right on the street, or, you can take your food to a beer garden and enjoy it with some alcohol.

Vientiane Night Market

Address: Chao Anouvong Park, Vientiane

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2. Sticky rice

The sticky rice is really sticky here!
Source: Photo by Flickr user shankar s. used under CC BY 2.0

Sticky rice is a side dish that must accompany almost every dish in Laos, but it’s so good that you could eat it all on its own. This fluffy, moist, glutinous rice is meant to be eaten with your hands. You can even try sticky rice that’s been flavoured with coconut. Khao niao, as it’s known in Laos, can also be toasted and used in dishes like Larb. It’s so good that you will want to eat it with every meal.

Vangtong Evening Market

Address: Boulevard Khounboulom, Vientiane

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3. Crickets, grasshoppers and other insects

炸蚂蚱 Deep Fried Grasshoppers and  炸竹虫 Bamboo Worms - Tastes of Dai stall, Huguoqiaotou Snack Centre
Source: Photo by Flickr user Alpha used under CC BY-SA 2.0

In poorer areas of Southeast Asia, insects are a common food staple. In Vientiane, you can try a number of insects that are caught fresh and quickly fried with kaffir lime leaf. They taste much better than what you get in touristy spots in Bangkok, like the Khao San Road. These are a nice, crunchy snack to eat while drinking beer and watching the sunset on the Mekong River. Don’t be squeamish, give them a try.

Ban Anou Night Market

Address: Phai Nam Road, Vientiane

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4. Mekong catfish

Mmmm, grilled fish from the Mekong!
Source: Photo by Flickr user shankar s. used under CC BY 2.0

There are plenty of delicious fish to be caught in the Mekong River and one of the most popular is catfish. These fish taste very good grilled and they have a strong, earthy flavour. You can get one of these fish grilled on a skewer on just about every corner. Empty lots in town are filled with makeshift markets, where locals grill these fish on an open flame. It’s a filling meal that will cost you practically nothing.

Vientiane Night Market

Address: Chao Anouvong Park, Vientiane

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5. Khai Look

Source: Photo by Flickr user Caryl Joan Estrosas used under CC BY 2.0

You might know this dish by its Filipino name of balut, but fetal duck or chicken egg is actually eaten in pretty much all of Southeast Asia. In Laos, it’s called Khai Look, and it’s served with some salt and mint. This fetal egg contains a nearly-developed embryo inside. You simply have to crack open the shell, slurp up the juices and dip it in some salt or sauce. The taste has a very strong poultry flavour.

Vangtong Evening Market

Address: Boulevard Khounboulom, Vientiane

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6. Khao piak

Khao piak sen
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Spencer used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If Vietnam has pho and Japan has ramen, then Laos has khao piak. This rice noodle soup is typically made with a chicken broth and you can have many added ingredients as toppings, such as crispy pork, cubed pork blood and, of course, chopped green onion. It’s a refreshing way to start your day when you are travelling through Laos. Khao piak or rice porridge, are typical breakfasts in Laos.

Talat Sao shopping market

Address: Ave Lane Xang, Vientiane

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7. Larb

LaoFood LarbNeua
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jpatokal used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Larb is a salad that is popular in both Laos and Thailand. But, if you are a vegetarian, then this is definitely not the salad for you. This is a meat salad that is made with toasted sticky rice, mint, fish sauce, shallots, lime and Thai chillies. Sometimes, it also contains blood or a very strong fermented fish sauce called padaek. In Vientiane, you can try larb made with a number of different meats, such as pork or duck.

Nam Phou Fountain Square

Address: Rue Pangkham, Vientiane

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8. Grilled frog

Grilled frog
Source: Pixabay

The Mekong River is filled with many delicious creatures and they aren’t all fish. Frogs are also a very popular food that is caught in this life-giving river. Mekong frogs are grilled on a skewer whole and when you take a bite, you really get a strong, earthy flavour. This grilled snack requires at least a few beers to wash down its strong taste, but if you are a more adventurous eater, you should definitely give this one a try. You can get it from just about any street food vendor in Vientiane.

Vientiane Night Market

Address: Chao Anouvong Park, Vientiane

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9. Seen savanh

Venison jerky
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user _ Kripptic used under CC BY 2.0

If you are a fan of beef jerky, then you really need to try the Laotian version. Seen savanh are marinated strips of beef that have been left to dry in the sun. This jerky is covered in sesame seeds and has a very sweet flavour. This is another great snack for meat lovers to enjoy while sipping on a Beer Lao.

Khua Din Market

Address: Ave Lane Xang, Vientiane

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Looking to try it all? Why not book one of the following food tours:

Hungry Tuk Tuk (75 USD)

food in vientiane | hungry tuk tuk

For food enthusiasts, here is a treat that will delight your taste buds! Go on a Vientiane food tour aboard a tuk tuk (a motorised rickshaw) and enjoy food which is well-chosen at each location. Sample the traditional kao larm (sticky rice) dessert roasted in a bamboo pole, enjoy Lao’s coffee with sweetened milk, feast on a bowl of kao piak (rice noodle soup), learn how to make papaya salad, and visit the Xaoban Homemade yoghurt factory. What’s more, you get to see how locals meticulously prepare these delights in an old-fashioned way. Dine with them and be introduced to dishes that you could easily miss if you’re just touring on your own. Cap the day with a Lao beer and some deep-fried delicacies at a bar in Mekong.

Hungry Tuk Tuk

Price: 75 USD

Duration: 6 hours

Dinner With The Locals (35 USD)

food in vientiane | dinner with the locals

Join our Tuk Tuk Safari for the perfect night out. The tour will start with a tuk tuk ride to the market. It’s a wonderful insight into how the markets work and what the Laotian’s shop, their traditional food and how to eat them. In this vibrant market, feast on a delicious Laotian dinner in a company of friendly locals and other tourists. The tour then takes you for a short walk to downtown where you can enjoy more Laotian sweets and delicacies. The price includes all transport by tuk tuk, all activities, a bottle of water, dinner, pick up and drop off with an English-speaking guide. Any additional drink or food are available for purchase.

Dinner With The Locals

Price: 35 USD

Duration: 3 hours

Exotic and delicious foods

Laos food
Source: Pixabay

Vientiane has plenty of delicious food, but the best of the best are usually meat, rice or noodle dishes. These street foods will make your stay in Vientiane very enjoyable. If you like exotic foods, you can try fermented pork sausage, insects, grilled frog or fetal duck egg. There are delicious fish like perch and catfish, too. These street foods go well with Beer Lao, or if you want something harder, you can try some Laotian moonshine called Lao Lao.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Rob Cramer is a Canadian writer and travel enthusiast who loves to sample exotic food from all over the world. He spends most of his time traveling throughout Asia sampling bizarre delicacies like...Read more

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