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Laotian cuisine: would you dare eat one of these 9 dishes to discover on your trip to Laos?

Dernière mise à jour : 7 juil. 2023

The Laotian diet is based on rice, topped with pork, beef, poultry and fish. Vegetables are an integral part of Laotian dishes, and are varied and plentiful. Rice can be served either fried, glutinous or white. Noodles are served either fried, fried or in a soup known locally as "Pho" (pronounced "Fire"). Omelettes, fruits and broths are also part of daily meals (even breakfast).

If you need to order your own food during your trip to Laos, take a tip from our experts: tell us when you order that you don't want to eat spicy food! In Laotian, this is called "Bo Phèt" Bo = negation, Phèt = spicy. Believe us, even if you specify it, there will always be a little chilli pepper in the sauce, not that the cook means to offend you, but for the locals a single chilli pepper is not a sign of a spicy dish :)

Mealtimes are not the same as in the West! Laotians eat early, so be warned. Breakfast starts around 5 to 6 am, lunch between 11:30 and 12 and dinner from 5:30 or even 6:00 pm. In the big cities, especially in restaurants, you can eat a little later, but it's often around 9pm that you have to leave, as Laotians get up very early, at 4am.

But, as everywhere else in the world, there's always a discreet bar where you can have a nightcap before going to bed.

Here are some of the most curious dishes we'd like you to discover

Sautéed rattan worms "douaing wai"

It's a seasonal dish that's well worth enjoying, as the locals have to go into the forest to find the worms in the rattan stems.

The appearance is curious, but the taste is pleasant in the mouth, despite the viscous consistency.

Grilled chicken feet "Tinkay"

Very popular, chicken feet are usually grilled over an open fire and sold in street stalls. This dish is generally eaten as an aperitif and goes well with Lao beer "Beerlao".

Raw duck blood soup "lap luate pète"

Served mainly at family dinners, as the blood must be very fresh, collected when the duck is slaughtered before dinner, the Laotians add mint, peanuts, lemon juice, coriander and pieces of cooked duck. The dish is eaten cold to retain its "flavor", with bits of coagulated blood floating on the surface.

Fried crickets "ki naiye"

This dish is usually found at markets or festivals. Even if it's not very appetizing, it's very rich in proteins, lipids, minerals and vitamins. And you won't believe how good it tastes!

Forget peanuts, the trend in Laos is towards insects for aperitifs.

Sautéed bamboo worms "ToMèr may phay"

A popular dish to nibble on while drinking beers or with sticky rice. In fact, the worms taste just like the potato chips we're used to eating in France. Once you've eaten one, you won't be able to stop. They're delicious!

Rice alcohol with macerated gecko "Lao bông ya"

The famous lao-lao, the local rice alcohol, is flavored with roots at its best. But sometimes Laotians add snakes, scorpions, bear paws or geckos to macerate. Apparently, this gives strength or other virtues, depending on the mixture. It's also known to be a powerful aphrodisiac, as evidenced by the number of children in the villages :)

Stuffed or grilled frogs "kop/khiet"

In Laos, frogs can weigh up to 500g. They are served with a stuffed belly or simply grilled on the BBQ. You can eat the frog directly with a spoon, or accompanied by sticky rice and a typical Laotian sauce. A very popular market dish.

Butterfly worms "Douaing phao"

In Laos, worms are highly prized in all their forms. A seasonal delicacy that is also appreciated for the difficulty of hunting it. You have to climb some trees to find them!

Cooked, first steamed then sautéed, in their cocoon and with a rather creamy flesh, our team had the opportunity to taste some again recently, but to be honest, only our Lao community threw themselves onto the plates :)

Some dishes are "raw", but remember that in Laos, only towns and large villages have local markets. As for the most remote villages - the vast majority of the country - there are no markets where you can buy meat by the kilo, for example. As a result, any type of meat becomes food that can feed an entire family.

During your trip to Laos, you may be offered these dishes for tasting, or because your guide is going to make them his dinner. Don't worry, the Laotian gastronomy that will brighten up your days will be made up of more appetizing traditional dishes :)

We hope you've enjoyed our article and that it has inspired you to visit Laos. If you're looking for more information about our beautiful country, we invite you to read our dedicated blog.

Our Luang Prabang-based travel design team is at your disposal for your next adventure in Laos.

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