Laos is a beautiful country, and I love the food. As a country it almost didn’t make it into the trip, but now I’m so glad I went there because I would love to go back and experience it all again! It’s probably the most vegan-friendly place in SE Asia that I’ve been to so far; but whether that’s the norm or just my personal experience I don’t know for sure. I’m afraid I don’t know any other vegans who have been there! 😉
While in the country I visited 3 places: Vientiane (the capital), Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang.
Vientiane is the capital of Laos and as such is more expensive than other areas. Plus there’s not much to do so I don’t recommend staying long.
There are several vegetarian all-you-can-eat buffets for 25,000 Kip (around £2), and noodle soup can be found everywhere for 15-20,000 Kip. I can’t guarantee these are vegan though due to the language barrier; I did ask for no meat but I have a feeling the broth is made from bones, so stay away if you want to be 100%, but go for it if you want to try a local speciality (it’s so good!).
House of Fruit Shakes has amazing fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies and juices. My favourite was the apple, carrot, and ginger juice, which cost me 15,000 (just over £1). This place also has a vegan breakfast option: muesli with soy milk, which I didn’t try myself.
There was also one restaurant I went to just on the side of the road which had the most delicious fresh vegan rice paper rolls, only 20,000 Kip for 10 rolls! I can’t remember the name sadly but it was near House of Fruit Shakes, near Sihome Backpacker Hostel, and was only open for lunch.
The home of tubing! Not really my kind of place I thought, but I actually loved it! It’s so laid back and the scenery is so stunning. Plus now that they’ve made it safe (no more slides and ropes etc.) you don’t have to worry about anyone dying. You just relax and drink (if you like).
In terms of vegan options it’s a bit more tricky as it’s aimed soley at backpackers. So lots of banana pancakes, lots of burgers, lots of beer and whiskey! But you can get vegetable sandwiches in some places, stir fried vegetables with rice, and some restaurants also serve falafel. I had a delicious falafel plate with hummus and salad. Gary’s Irish Bar also has a veggie burger that was super yummy. Smoothies are available on every corner so you don’t have to worry about going without fruit.
Up in the North of Laos, this place is vegan heaven! There are so many options, and the food here is just so delicious, I didn’t want to leave!
On the main night market street there is a pure vegetarian buffet, with one plate costing only 10,000 Kip (less than £1). You have to ask for the food to be warmed up, but it’s amazing with so many vegetables, tofu dishes, noodles, rice, and spring rolls. There are also other buffets down the side road next to Indigo Cafe which are 90% vegetarian and have more choice of dishes, but cost slightly more at 15,000 Kip per plate. I tried both this and the pure veg one, and they are both really really good. Just pile your plate up as high as you can!
Next to the night market there is a food market, with many stalls selling avocado salad sandwiches for 10,000 Kip. Just make sure you ask for no mayo and no chilli, and it’s so delicious! I ended up going to Vancy’s stall (the one with the sign saying “Vancy’s makes the best sandwiches”) which is one of the furthest from the river. She is so lovely and made my sandwich just how I wanted it each day, even remembering me when I came back.
Indigo Cafe has plenty of vegan options and even a special vegan Sunday brunch that they advertise outside. Unfortunately I missed out on this but I’ve heard it’s really good.
If you head out to the Kuang Si waterfall (it’s the top activity in Lang Prabang for a reason!) restaurants there serve bit plates of stir fried vegetables for only 20,000, and have huge coconuts too.
I also went on a day tour with Phone Travels which included a big lunch with lots of vegetables and rice as well as meat. I forgot to specify my dietary requirements when we booked but there were more than enough vegetables and rice for me to be nicely full. Plus they give you bananas for dessert.
Laos Top Tips:
- Noodle soup, whilst a speciality, is likely not vegan due to the broth. So unless you’re willing to turn a blind eye and just have it without meat, don’t go for it.
- Stir fried vegetables will exist on practically every menu in every restaurant
- Fresh fruit can be found everywhere and is ridiculously cheap
- Eat the buffets in Luang Prabang, and you will come back the next day for seconds
- If you buy a smoothie make sure you specify no milk and no sugar, just in case