5 must-try local restaurants in Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos is such a peaceful and laid-back city that lures travelers from ever part of the world to admire its history, beauty, and culture. While the city may be calm, the Laotian food that you’ll find there is anything but! The food in Luang Prabang is exciting, unique, spicy and flavorful!
I always believe that embracing local food is a genuine way to get to know a bit of the local life. I found that it is so true, especially when I choose to eat at an authentic local restaurant that is also popular among the local people. While traveling in Luang Prabang, these were some of the most delicious local meals that I enjoyed.
Papaya Salad Restaurant (TIM&HUM)
This is a secret gem with some very traditional food! Here, you’ll find an authentic Laotian restaurant that will give you the taste of real Lao food made by locals for locals.
They have no more than 10 items on the menu. I highly recommend that you order papaya salad, fried chicken, and Lao sausage. When I visited, the lady who took my order asked me for the level of spiciness, and I said “medium” :D….we will see!
Tam Mak Houng (Lao Papaya salad) is something you just have to try for the real taste of Laos. It’s a bit different from the papaya salad (or Som Tam) that you’ll find in neighboring Thailand. The papaya comes in a flat thin slice, which makes it really crispy. The dish is sweet, sour, and savory, and medium spice is a great level of spicy for me.
Their fried chicken, however, is the menu that made me keep coming back again and again. It’s my love at first bite! The chicken is so crispy when I bite, but so soft and tender inside. I love how they marinated the chicken. Their sausage is also very yummy. Her BIG SECRET FOR DELICIOUS FOOD is that she uses a hot air fryer instead of a pan filled with oil. That’s what make chicken and sausage soooooooo GOOD and not oily at all.
The shop located in the old town area, and is very easy to find and walk to. The staff are really nice and can speak English. They have a few tables inside the restaurant, but you can also sit outside. It’s not the cheapest dish in Luang Prabang, but this is one of my favorite things that I ate while I was there.
Price : Papaya salad 15,000 kip/ Fried chicken and sausage are 40.000 kip each/sticky rice 5.000 kip ($)
Location : Papaya Salad Restaurant (open 10AM - 4PM)
2. Tam Mak Houng, Nang Tang
This is an amazingly delicious local restaurant with the greatest prices that I can find in Luang Prabang. There are few different dishes to choose from, and I took a picture of the menu for you (below).
As soon as I entered her restaurant, I was greeted by the warm smile of the chef. She makes an amazing Tam Mak Houng (green papaya salad). She asked me for my level of spiciness, and began mashing all of the ingredients with her mortar and pestle right before my eyes. It’s DELICIOUS! Savory, crispy, with a little spicy and sour, this Tam Mak Houng is just perfect.
Tam Mak Houng is Lao papaya salad, and it is similar to somtam from Thailand. The special ingredient in Lao papaya salad seems to be pickled fish (or pla-rah) that adds a little unique taste and scent for the dish. The shop is very easy to find in old town area, and is very clean and friendly. The portion that I was served was big enough to share.
The restaurant seems to be very popular with local people who live in the neighborhood, and though it’s always busy, the service is fast. Highly recommend!
Price : 10.000 kip for papaya salad/ 5.000 kip for sticky rice ($)
3. Porridge (or joke) Prachaniyom Coffee Shop
The best way to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee is with an amazing view. At this tiny coffee shop and noodle restaurant, you’ll be able to enjoy views of Luang Prabang’s famous river and mountain scenery. If you love something LOCAL, DELICIOUS, and CHEAP, this is the place for you.
Start you day by ordering a bowl of their delicious pork joke (rice porridge) with egg and Lao coffee. The porridge is smooth and tasty with a perfect savory kick of dried onion. If you are lucky, you may find tiny shrimp or pieces of squid in the bowl.
If you want to add a little sour flavor, adding a slice of lime can make a big different in kicking up the porridge to the perfect notch, but I recommend you try it as served first… just one tiny thing to watch out for though: you may find tiny pork bones in the pork. This lets you know that the pork has been stewed on the bone, but be careful not to chomp down too hard just in case.
As for the coffee, I think it’s the best and richest coffee in all of LP. This place is more popular among locals than tourists, and it’s a perfect way to start your long day of temple-hopping in Luang Prabang.
Price: Porridge + egg 8.000 kip , Coffee 8.000 kip
Location: Prachaniyom Coffee Shop open from 4 am -11 am
4. Xieng Thong Noodle Shop
Do you like garlic? If so, please visit my favorite noodle shop in Laos.
I recommend ordering the pork noodles with egg. You will get an AMAZING noodle bowl which comes with soft and chewy noodles, soft and tender sliced pork, and a poached egg in clear, thick soup. The bowl is topped with crispy garlic slices and shallots.
The soup itself is very peppery and savory with a great kick of garlic that I love so much. Try it plain first, but I really recommend adding mashed ginger, a tiny bit of Lao fried chili (be careful, fried chili is much spicier than fresh chili and can turn your breath into dragon fire!), and a slice of lime which is on the table. All the flavors and good scents together make it the best noodles that I’ve had in all of Laos!
The restaurant is in a very great spot in town, just next to Wat Xieng Thong, one of the coolest old temples in the city. It’s nice and clean. I keep coming back here many times.
Price: $ (15.000 kip)
Location: Xieng Thong Noodle open from 7am to 1 or 2pm
5. Banpa Restaurant
Another fine place to enjoy Laotian meals is Banpa Restaurant, located right in the center of town near most of the guesthouses.
I went there at lunch time, and while it was a little crowded, I was able to get a place to sit. I ordered papaya salad and Lao sausage (called Sai-Ua in Lao). While the papaya salad was very tasty, it wasn’t so traditional. Instead, it was adjusted a bit to match the taste of foreign visitors. If super spicy flavors, or the taste of fermented fish that is sometimes used in traditional Lao papaya salad isn’t your thing, this can be a great way to get introduced to papaya salad.
The Lao sausage is also really good. They have a very wide variety of food with a good price. The staff are friendly and can speak English well, and the restaurant is very comfy.
Price: Papaya salad 15.000 kip/ Lao sausage 45.000 kip ($)
Location: Banpa Restaurant