Laos food is strongly influenced by Chinese, Thai and French culture. However, it has its own differences in multiple respects. Laos meals usually include a large quantity of fresh herbs and vegetables. Flavor-wise, Laos food is not often sweet and sour but some dishes are even bitter. Another distinctive characteristic of Laos food is to be eaten at room temperature. It could be explained that many Laos food are served with sticky rice and traditionally eaten by hand. Here are the top 15 Laos dishes you must try.

Khao Niao (Sticky Rice)

laos food Khao Niao
Khao Niao


Every country has their daily food of grain. In Laos cuisine, Khao Niao (or sticky rice, glutinous rice, sticky rice, sweet rice, waxy rice) is included in every Laotian meals. Like all types of rice, this type does not contain glutenin and gliadin so it will be safe for travelers with gluten-free diets. It is often served at room temperature in a woven basket called Thip Khao. Lao people eat this by taking a small chunk and balling it up with their right hand, then using this to pick up some meat or vegetable before eating it. Khao Niao is also often used as offerings to Laos monks during Morning Alms Giving Ceremony (Tak Bat).

Laap/Larp (Chopped meat mixed with fish sauce and herbs)


This Laos food could be call either Laap or Larp and it is the national dish of Laos. It is very similar to a salad. Laap includes chopped meat and innards (of pork, buffalo, beef, duck or chicken) then mixed with fish sauce, coriander, mint, chili, spring onion and lime juice, sprinkled with some ground toasted rice grains. It is often serve with Khao Niao (sticky rice) and fresh vegetables such as dried chillies, banana flowers and raw vegetables. Even though the locals prefer this dish raw (Tiger laap), travelers could ask for their dish freshly cooked and not included any intestines as well. This dish is available in any restaurant in Laos.

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Ping Kai (grilled chicken)

Ping Kai chicken

Ping Kai literally means roast chicken or barbecued chicken. This is a popular dish served anywhere in Laos. The dish is made by marinating the whole chicken with combination of fish sauce, cilantro, turmeric, garlic and white pepper before roasting it over a low charcoal-fueled flame. It makes a great combination with papaya salad Tam Mak Houng and sticky rice Khao Niao.

Tam Mak Houng (Laos green papaya salad)

Tam Mak Houng

This dish is both similar and different from the Thai‘s Som Tam (Spicy green papaya salad). This Laos food is spicier and sourer. The ingredients of this dish include shredded green papaya, tomatoes, chili garlic, lime juice, Laos special fish sauce. The factor that makes up this dish is the balance combination of all flavors: sour lime, hot chili, salty fish sauce and sweetness of palm sugar. This dish could be eaten with sticky rice and many meat dishes.

Ping Pa (Roasted river fish)

Ping Pa

Ping Pa is the name of river fish stuck on bamboo skewers, seasoned with chopped kaffir lime leaf, galangal, lemongrass, cilantro and lime juice before roasting with skin on. This is usually considered as a “fast food” in Laos, eaten on the go with a serving of sticky rice.

Nam Khao (Crisp rice salad)

Nam Khao

This Lao dish is made by deep frying rice balls, then breaking these rice balls up and mixing them with seasoning and Som Moo (Pickled/Cured pork). There are many different ways to cook this dish. Some use ground pork in the rice ball, some mix it with sliced kaffir lime leaves and chopped lemongrass… If you want eat this dish like the locals do, have some fresh vegetable and herbs on the side (like lettuce), wrap up little morsels of Nam Khao with green and eat them.

Kaipen (Fried Seaweed)


This dish is a Laotian snack made of fresh water green algae, vegetables and sesame seeds. It is produced mostly in Luang Prabang. These weeds called Kai are harvested from the river, dried, pounded and pressed into thin sheets along with vegetables (garlic, galangal, green onions and tomato) then sprinkled with sesame seeds. This dish is very rich in vitamin and minerals. It could be used to eat by itself or to flavor other foods. Usually when eaten by itself, Kaipen is dipped into a special chili sauce made with lime, garlic and chilies, called Jaew Bong.

Khao Soi (Flat rice noodle)

Khao Soi

This Laos dish could be found mostly in Luang Prabang. It is a flat rice noodle soup dish mixing with minced pork, tomatoes, peanuts, chilies with broth and topped with fermented bean sauce. Even though sharing the same name with Chiang Mai’ Khao Soi. These two dishes have nothing in common with one another. The Thai’s version is an egg noodle-packed and served with coconut milk.

Sai Oua (Lao Sausage)

Sai Oua

There are various types of Laos sausage: include those made in Luang Prabang, made with fatty pork and a healthy combination of herbs, chilies, lemongrass, garlic, salt and fish sauce.  Laos sausages could often be seen drying at sideboards or strung up at local markets. Marriages, religious ceremonies, and other festivities normally have a meal and include this sort of sausage.

Khao Nom Krok (Laos coconut cakes)

Khao Nom Krok

Khao Nom Kok is bite-sized Lao coconut cakes. It is made with rice flour and coconut cream. Both are mixed and poured into an iron pan specially made for Kanom Krok. The toppings of this dish is vary such as pumpkin shaving, sugar and salt.

Khao Jee Sandwich (Baguette Sandwich)

Khao Jee Sandwich

Khao Jee is a combination of pate, Vietnamese sausage, shredded radish and carrot, cucumbers and squeezes of mayonnaise and chili sauce stuffed in the crusty French baguettes. This Laos dish is so popular that almost every street corner has a vendor selling this French-Laos fusion. This is considered a “fast food” that could be eaten on the go. Khao Jee is good with a cup of strong filtered coffee.

Khao Poon (Rice Vermicelli Soup)

Khao Poon

Khao Poon or Kapoon is a spicy rice vermicelli soup that is known as Laos signature. It is a popular Laos soup throughout Southeast Asia area. This cuisine is rich in vegetables, herbs, spices and rice noodle. It is made of pounded or shredded chicken, fish, or pork that is seasoned with ingredients such as lime leaves, galangal, garlic, shallots and chili peppers. Khao Poon is traditionally cooked with rice vermicelli (a thin rice noodle with sour flavor). Traditionally this Laos soup is served at weddings.

Sien Savanh (Laos Beef Jerky)

Sien Savanh

This is the Laos version of beef jerky. Sien Savanh are small bites of beef, marinated in dark soy, oyster sauce, garlic, pepper and palm sugar. Sometimes it could be sprinkled with sesame seeds. Then this marinated beef is left to dry in the sun. Then the vendors will add to it a smoke flavor by quickly grill the meat. This dish usually is eaten with sticky rice.

Beer Lao

Beer Lao-Light and Dark
Beer Lao-Light and Dark

This is the well-known beverage that is often sought for when tourists travelling to Laos. It is produced by the Lao Brewery Company in Vientiane. There are four popular beer products of LBC, which are Beerlao Light (with a low content of alcohol 2.9%), Beerlao Dark (an alcohol content of 6.5%), Lanexang (also means “Million elephants) and Beerlao Gold (reviewed to have a good flavor and non-sticky texture).


Lao Lao

Lao-Lao is a popular moonshine liquor as well as potent rice whisky. It is very potent and strong as about 40% proof alcohol. There are various kinds and flavors of Lao-Lao. For example the liquor is often blended with honey, lizards, snakes or scorpions.

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Celeste Pham

My name is Chi but you can call me Celeste. I was born in Haiphong, the dynamic port city lying 100 km to the east of Hanoi, and also the gateway to Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island. I graduated from Hanoi University, majoring in Hispanic Language and Culture. I have passion for traveling and I love planning my own trip myself following my own interest. I’m willing to help others visitors to make their own dream trip to my charming country and make them feel at home.

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