Details of Life on the Road: Street eats, cheap sleeps, budget travel experiences

13 Vegetarian Eats In Laos

P1030630       Delicious chili paste

Laotian food is great. Don’t underestimate it. Perhaps not as diverse and well known as its neighbors, but the Lao kitchen still has a lot to offer. I’ve eaten all of the dishes mentioned in this list.

13 Vegetarian Eats In Laos:

Noodle soup (Khao Piak Sen): Found on every menu. Lao noodle soup is ubiquitous and almost always satisfying. Similar to Vietnamese Pho, this rice noodle soup often comes with many accompaniments, such as bean sprouts, herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, etc.), lime, and various chili pastes. If you order vegetarian noodle soup outside of a vegetarian restaurant there’s a good chance the broth will have been made from meat.


Hot and spicy: Sounds more like a description than a dish, but it’s both. I can’t really seem to find any information on this dish – it’s not traditional, but just a mixed dish of vegetables and tofu (or meat with something similar to a red curry sauce, made to please foreigners.

Laap: Also spelled Larp, or Larb, this dish is traditionally made with meat. Laap is actually a type of Lao salad, typically made with minced meat or fish which has been marinated in an assortment of flavors, mixed with herbs such as mint, and served with sticky rice and fresh vegetables. The vegetarian versions I’ve eaten have been made with either tofu or mushrooms. Make sure to have the fish sauce omitted! I’ve read that Laap is, arguably, the national dish of Laos. Photo Source.


Rice soup: Holy wow, I love rice soup! Anytime of the day, but specifically for breakfast. This soup is a great way to start your day – let the sweating commence. Often called rice porridge, but I typically think of the porridge with meat and the soup without meat. It’s a bit creamy, hot, and delicious. Add a dash of soy, a squirt of lime, some cilantro and other herbs, a squeeze of chili sauce, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a dab of the infamous Lao chili paste and you’re ready to go! The soup is most often cooked with pork, but you can find fresh vegetarian versions in some restaurants. It’s often cooked with an egg, too.


Fried rice: I kind of hate to even put this on the list. Really. However, the truth is that fried rice can be found on almost every menu, especially those catering to tourists. I once met up with a guy, who I had previously met a couple of different times, and noticed he was eating burgers and pasta and typical Western food and so I inquired about it, asking why he didn’t eat more local food. His depressing and uninformed answer was that he “had already tried fried rice, and fried noodles”. There’s more than that, people! Make sure to do your research and dig in!

Fried Noodles: Similar to above. Can be found basically everywhere. Good if you need a quick fix, but try not to over-do it.

Green Papaya Salad: Lao style, but this dish is found throughout the South East Asian region. I love it! Make sure you ask for no fish sauce! Otherwise you may get yourself into a fishy surprise! Made with unripe green papaya, and mixed with lime, salt, diced chili, tomatoes, and sugar and served with sticky rice. It’s the bomb.


Sticky rice: Not exactly a meal, but made to accompany most meals. Steamed in a bamboo basket, and served in a bamboo basket, sticky rice is great. The rice isn’t sticky to touch, but it’s stuck together making it easy to pick up with chopsticks, although it’s traditionally eaten with hands. I often ate sticky rice with chili sauce.


Vegetarian Buffets: Not exactly a particular meal, but vegetarian and vegan buffets deserve a mention here. Vientiane is full of all-you-can-eat lunch buffets, often served with tea and soup. Full of delicious steamed greens, well-spiced vegetables, tofu done in an assortment of ways, spring roles, rice, soup, and much more for $2.00 or $3.00 (USD), you can’t go wrong. Similarly, there are large, primarily vegetarian buffets at the night market in Luang Prabang. However, the ones in LP aren’t all you can eat, but rather one heaping serving, which is plenty.

P1030105 P1020972

Long Green Bean Salad (Tam Mak Tuah): This dish is very similar to papaya salad, the main difference being that raw green beans are used in replace of papaya. Salt, fresh chili, garlic, sugar, lime, tomatoes and bam! Make sure you ask for no fish sauce for this one, too. Easily one of my favourites!


Tom Yam Soup: Also called Tom Yum, this Lao/Thai soup is of the spicy and sour variety. It’s often served with seafood, but I had a vegetarian version, and like most soups, I loved it. Lemon grass, which is a very common Lao ingredient, is used in this dish.


Stir-fried Vegetables: Found almost anywhere, you should have no problem having a restaurant whip this up for you. MSG, unfortunately, is often used to flavour dishes. If possible, try to have it omitted.

Baguette Sandwiches (Khao Jee): French influenced, you’ll see an assortment of sandwich vendors in most of the popular tourist destinations in Laos selling these. Not quite like the mouthwatering Vietnamese version, Banh Mi, but still great. Do yourself a favour and get avocado on it. Photo Source.



One Response to “13 Vegetarian Eats In Laos”

  1. Diana Southammavong says:

    This is awesome! I’m going to try and create these recipes, especially the laap, cos I’ve been craving that dish for the longest. It was one of my favorite dishes growing up, but to actually see pictures of vegetarian options makes me happy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes