Everybody knows that Luang Prabang is the most touristy spot in Laos. It has nice weather, many French architectures are maintained until today blending in with old Buddhist temples. A royal capital, now is a historical place that has been existing for thousands of years. Of course, it’s definitely the place to experience real Laos cuisine.
The question is: Street Food or Restaurant?
To experience Laos cuisine, both Street Food and Restaurants in Luang Prabang will give you different perspective with similar expense.
While Street Food gives us the feeling of freedom, flexibility and cost saving, restaurants actually won’t cost us more than Street Food and even better quality. Yes, some restaurants are expensive, but we just know a place that can offer you quality food with a reasonable price – Tamnaklao Luang Prabang.
Tamnaklao Luang Prabang – a taste of Laos cuisine
From the outside, it looks expensive and quite fancy, a big house with wooden furniture, 2 floors with big doors and windows. However, the price is really not that expensive, we paid the same amount compare to the street food we had the previous night, with better quality. The most important thing: we were full and satisfied!
We had lunch there with rice and 3 dishes for 2 people:
– Steamed fish in Banana leaves
– Eggplants stir fried with minced pork
– Stir fried morning glory
We are not food critic but what we had were tasty, rich, flavorful and fresh.
The first meal at Tamnaklao cost us 135,000 Kip. We came back the next day to have dinner with 3 new dishes which we regretted later because we were too full…
3 Elephant Dip is a must try, we didn’t know what it was and we just wanted to try something new. Turned out, it was an amazing combination. I took a piece of butter toast and dipped into the sauce made of eggplants, mint and herbs, and I felt it melted in my mouth.
*Caution: try with your own risk, everything works differently for different people.
Cao Piak – rice noodles served with fried rice cake – some people might say that this is just a normal rice noodle dish and I won’t argue with you. However, we get what we pay for, it’s bigger, cleaner, and more fancy than in a local food vendor.
Again, 3 dishes and 1 drink cost us 120,000 Kip this time. There might be other restaurants with reasonable price around the corner and we will let you know if we come back to Luang Prabang next time. At this moment, Tamnaklao is number 1 recommendation in our list for you.
Street Food – Luang Prabang Night Market
Every day at 5PM, a part of Sisavangvong Street is blocked until midnight for the Night Market. Souvenirs, H’mong handmade bags, pillow cases, mattress… and many other things are put on sale. If you come early, you will get a discount from any seller as they believe the first customer is the lucky customer.
If you enter the night market in this direction, you will see an open venue with food stalls on your right. Some street food vendors on your left will sell some noodles, rolls and grilled stuff, worth a try, however, don’t eat too much because you will see the Street Food alley very soon, it is located at the first alley opposite to the open venue.
You will also find noodles, beef/pork jerky, papaya salad… and especially, vegetarian buffet inside the valley. The rule is: you pay 20,000 Kip for 1 empty plate and you are allowed to get everything you want. Every time you come back and get another round of food, you pay another 20,000 Kip. Sounds good? Hell yeah!
We sat in the middle of a grill stall and the veggie buffet, ordering a grilled fish, pigeon, sausage and a plate of veggie. Total cost was 115,000 Kip without a drink. Told you, it was not cheaper than a restaurant!
Better ask for the price before you choose any dish.
*Notice: even though we got sick after having street food in this alley, it doesn’t mean you will get sick. Just be careful and prepare yourself.
For the vegetarian buffet, you can also go a bit deeper into the night market, there will be another alley selling buffet for 15,000 Kip only. Make sure to exchange money before you come to eat, otherwise, their exchange rate will make you cry.
Grab yourself a coffee – get in a bakery shop
After walking through the market and bargaining with the sellers, you must be tired. Let’s take a break in a vintage coffee shop or get in a bakery to enjoy Luang Prabang with French style.
It’s almost sunset! Gotta go!
If you plan to watch the sunset on Phousi mount, you should start walking up there since 4PM, it gets more and more crowded every minute. Give yourself some time to look around before secure your seat on the mount.
Another option which is less crowded and also free is find a pier along the river and wait for the sunset, bring your snack and beers.
We had good food and really good time in Luang Prabang and Laos in general. We hope you enjoy your trip as well. Feel free to leave your comment or any question, we will try our best to answer.
Thank you for reading!