Luang Prabang is a city that prides itself on its food. Some dishes are unique to the royal city, and others are simply done better here than elsewhere – all of which conspires to make this the town in which to dig into Lao food with a sense of mission, despite the wide availability of international cuisine. At the top of your list should be or lam, a bittersweet meat soup made with chilli wood, lemongrass, aubergine and dill. Another local speciality, jaew bong, a condiment of red chillies, shallots, garlic and dried buffalo skin, is an excellent accompaniment for khai paen, a highly nutritious river moss that’s first sundried with sesame seeds, garlic and chilli, then fried in oil.

Phak nam, a type of watercress particular to the area, is a common sight in Luang Prabang’s markets, and is widely used in salads. The most common style appears on menus either as “watercress salad” or “Luang Prabang salad” and is in fact quite similar to a Western salad – a light alternative to the meat salads more commonly served in Lao restaurants. Locals even add a twist to the Lao staple, tam màk hung (papaya salad): the distinctive Luang Prabang flavour of this dish comes from the addition of crab juice.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Laos features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A postcard from Laos: exploring the curious Plain of Jars

A postcard from Laos: exploring the curious Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars, in northern Laos, remains one of Southeast Asia's great mysteries. Shafik Meghji journeys here to uncover the secrets of this little-tourist…

31 Oct 2017 • Shafik Meghji insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos

16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos

Professional travel photographer Tim Draper has shot images for 24 Rough Guides guidebooks, visiting far-flung corners of the world. Here he shares some of his …

07 Sep 2017 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook