Not surprisingly, you’ll find mainly Laotian food in Vientiane. Here the selection is the largest and there is something for every budget. The Lao food is similar to the Thai. Many dishes are alike those from Isan. Some are just slightly modified. If you like the food from the Isan, you’ll all certainly like the cuisine from Laos. That the Lao cuisine is so heavily influenced by the Thai is not surprising. After all, Laos was once part of the Kingdom of Siam. In addition, the Thai food is really delicious. However, the dishes are not identical. The Lao cuisine is definitely something stand-alone. Some even find them better than the Thai cuisine. But that’s a matter of taste, of course.
Differences between Lao and Thai food
Although there are many similarities, the Lao food is not identical to the Thai. Laotian food is usually saltier but less spicy than Thai food. The Lao usually use less chili when cooking. Still there is a lot of spicy food in Laos. So be careful anyway, if you’re not used to spicy dishes. A special feature is that the Laotians use less sugar when cooking. If you have been to Thailand before, you know how much Thai people like sugar. Especially in their desserts and drinks. In Laos, significantly less sugar is used. One of the Laotian specialties is the river weed. You won’t find a more traditional dish anywhere. The river weed is harvested in the north of Laos from the Mekong. From there it is exported to all parts of the country.
Laotian food on the street
You’ll find Laotian street food on every corner. Either in the form of small street stalls or as small restaurants with plastic chairs. Especially in the markets you have a huge choice. From traditional Laotian dishes to various types of fast food, everything is there. Are you worried about your health? Actually you shouldn’t have any problems. Just judge for yourself if the food seems hygienic enough. We at least had no issues normally. But it also depends on your stomach. The fact is that you can get large portions for small prices. And much of it is really delicious.
Laotian food in (bigger) restaurants
In addition to the street restaurants, there are also those that correspond more to western standards. Such restaurants are logically more expensive but for Laotian food you usually don’t have to pay much. However, prices are often more expensive than in Thailand. That’s because Laos doesn’t have a real industry for many things. Many foods must therefore be imported from Thailand. This leads to higher prices. In the end, you will still get away much cheaper than if you eat in a foreign restaurant. The only exception to this are Thai restaurants. Many of them are in the same price range. Also in Vientiane. By the way, there are even really high-class Laotian restaurants. But these are not really expensive. At least not if it’s all about Lao food. If the restaurants offer western food as well, they usually cost more.