Vegan Guide To Laos

Here’s our quick Vegan Guide To Laos; it’s quick for 2 reasons – firstly we only did a bit of a whilstlestop tour and secondly vegan options in Laos, outside the major cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, are a bit limited. It’s not particularly a ‘vegan foodie’ destination (if we’re honest, we found it sadly underwhelming) and even the buddhist monks eat meat. But the beautiful scenery and the historic UNESCO heritage town of Luang Prabang are some highlights that you won’t want to miss.

Amazing sunsets like this await you in Laos.

Amazing sunsets like this await you in Laos.

You definitely won't want to miss the temples in Luang Prabang.

You definitely won’t want to miss the temples in Luang Prabang.

Non-vegan things to watch out for

Soya milk is widely available throughout Laos (hooray say those of us that like to make our own travel friendly chia seed porridge to start the day) but sadly the Lactosoy brand has a stronghold on the market and the variety that we spotted everywhere (in the blue carton) has dairy milk in it (nooooooo!). The dairy-free version (in the red carton) was only spotted in Vientiane where you can also find rice milk and even almond milk (for a price in the expensive expat supermarket).

Then there’s fish sauce, Laotians have their own variety of this called ‘padaek’ which can end up in your food if you aren’t careful.

The best vegan food in Laos

Yaw Juen Fried Spring Rolls

Get them on the street or in a restaurant; Laotian fried spring rolls are made with a rice flour wrapper making them deliciously light and crispy. They’re dangerously moreish and are hard to walk past without grabbing a few to eat. Check they aren’t filled with any hidden meat then get snacking.

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Not the healthiest vegan snack but very very tasty.

The Vegan Food Quest favourite place to find a fried spring roll: on the streets of Luang Prabang.

Yaw Dip Fresh Spring Rolls

The healthy alternative to it’s deep fried friend Jaw Juen, Yaw Dip, or fresh spring rolls are a great go to vegan dish found in loads of restaurants and on the street. The restaurant versions we ate were all pretty decent (if not a little boring in comparison to the herb filled Vietname version – sorry Laos! They make a great travel food too, we took a portion on the plane with us when we left and they lasted really well.

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A much healthier type of spring roll that is equally as delicious.

The Vegan Food Quest favourite fresh spring rolls: Noy’s Fruit Heaven in Vientiane.

Jeow (cooked vegetables with a dip)

This is a common dish found at a Laotian meal  and is an awesome way to get your daily dose of veg in one hit. It’s basically a plate of veg and a dip in the middle. We had this in a few different places who agreed to veganise the dip part for us and it was a bit hit and miss ranging from bland to relitively tasty.

A good way to eat a lot of plain veg.

A good way to eat a lot of plain veg.

If you fancy trying it out then the Vegan Food Quest best Jeow was eaten in Lao Kitchen in Vientiane.

Sticky rice

People from Laos eat more sticky rice than any other nation on the planet. It’s served in little baskets or sometimes steamed in bamboo with red beans. It’s just rice so not really anything to get too excited about in our book but it does make a very filling accompaniment to a meal.

The Vegan Food Quest favourite place for sticky rice? Everywhere sells it and it's just sticky rice really so there's no need for a 'go to' place!

The Vegan Food Quest favourite place for sticky rice? Everywhere sells it and it’s just sticky rice really so there’s no need for a ‘go to’ place!

Laab

Hands down the best dish we ate in Laos was a tofu Laab. It’s a popular meat or fish dish in Laos and eaten regularly so we were happy to find an excellent vegan version so we got to experience this famous Laotian food. Once we found a good version, we couldn’t stop eating it. Fried tofu chopped up with a zesty lime and soy dressing with caramelised shallots, fresh mint and crushed roasted rice gave the spicier Thai version a run for it’s money.

This tofu laab from Lao Kitchen was the best thing I ate in Laos.

This tofu laab from Lao Kitchen was the best thing I ate in Laos.

The Vegan Food Quest best place to get vegan laab in Laos? Lao Kitchen, Vientiane.

Baguettes

Wherever there were tourists in Laos, there baguette stalls – always with a vegan option we found. The bread is pretty good for Southeast Asia (where vegans can usually expect milk, butter and eggs to be included in the dough, making it off limits) and they make for a tasty, quick snack.

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Avocado salad baguettes make us have happy vegan faces!

The Vegan Food Quest go to place to get a good vegan baguette in Laos? ‘Baguette Corner’ in Luang Prabang – an area on the main street (Sisavangvong Road) where there are dozens of baguette stalls all in one place.

Buffets

Street side buffets can be a great option for eating in Laos. Meat and fish is normally ordered from one place, with veggie side dishes (some of which may well be vegan if you ask) being collected from huge displays nearby. It’s a cheap way to get dinner too with prices being particularly reasonable for as much as you can fit in your bowl (which is a lot if you are as greedy as us).

All this food to choose from - just before the crowds arrive.

All this food to choose from – just before the crowds arrive.

The Vegan Food Quest favourite buffet spot? Luang Prabang’s all Vegan Buffet which sets up on Sisavangvong at around 4pm each night (also a great place to meet friendly people at the busy communal tables).

Khanom Krok

If you go to Laos and see these being cooked on the side of the street then you should definitely stop what you are dong right away and eat them. A miniature coconut milk, sugar and rice flour pancake, these accidentally vegan desserts are sold on the street, really cheap and awesomely tasty. They are more custardy than the Thai version but we liked the way they were still served in traditional banana leaves and cooked over hot coals.

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Our love for Khanom Krok is immense.

The Vegan Food Quest go to place for Khanom Krok? Luang Prabang – just head to the night market on Sisavangvong Road and you’ll find several sellers from about 4 pm onwards (until their batter runs out!).

Thai Style Curries

We came across Thai style food on a lot of restaurant menus and there were often dishes that could be adapted for us traveling vegans. Vegetable and tofu red carries seemed to be most popular and although they aren’t as flavoursome or spicy as those in Thailand, they were OK and made for a good meal.

Not as mind-blowing as you'll find in Thailand but pretty tasty all the same.

Not as mind-blowing as you’ll find in Thailand but pretty tasty all the same.

The Vegan Food Quest recommended Thai Curry spot: ‘Same Same’ restaurant in Luang Prabang or Lao Kitchen in Vientiane.

Western Food

Because of the French colonial influences in Laos, and the international communities that live in the more populated areas (Vientiane and Luang Prabang) there was always Western food to be found, some of which was even worth eating. When you have a craving for something other than more local fare, a good hummus wrap or a falafel sandwich can really get you through.

Sometimes you just need to get a hummus fix.

Sometimes you just need to get a hummus fix.

Loved this friendly little juice bar and the falafels weren't bad either.

Loved this friendly little juice bar and the falafels weren’t bad either.

The Vegan Food Quest Western food fix favourites come from 2 places; 1) Joma (a small local chain of coffee shops) where they have detailed ingredients lists and every vegan’s favourite – hummus – and 2) Noy’s Fruit Heaven in Vientiane who makes a fairly decent falafel.

So that’s it, our brief Vegan Guide to Laos. Did we miss out your favourite place? Or like us, were you a bit underwhelmed with the vegan food in Laos? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

You can follow our vegan travel adventure as we ‘find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world’ by signing up to our monthly newsletter and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Or why don’t you come and stay with us in our very own Vegan Villa in Siem Reap, Cambodia where we can treat you to the best of vegan hospitality and share with you our favourite vegan spots in Temple Town; check out our listing on Airbnb and come and stay if you’re in the area!

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10 thoughts on “Vegan Guide To Laos

  1. GiselleandCody

    Mmmmmmm, the all vegan buffet if by far one of the best places we ate during our travels in Laos.
    Unfortunately, he was only open one of the 5 days we were there so that really sucked.

    Reply
    1. Vegan Food Quest Post author

      what a shame that he was closed, I thought he was open every night? we visited on a few occasions and loved it every time, great variety, fresh & simple vegan food…and so cheap!
      paul

      Reply
  2. Franca

    We weren’t vegan yet when we visited Laos but I remember loving a particular vegan restaurant in Vientiane where we ate almost everyday, it was so good! The tofu baguettes were also our favourite too 🙂

    Reply
    1. Vegan Food Quest Post author

      I had one vegan buffet place I wanted to visit (you know the buddhist style restaurants that serve cheap local vegan food) but got totally lost trying to found it and lost the will to live so gave up! The baguettes were a saviour though, you’re right! it’s our European roots Franca, can’t get away from the fact that we love bread!

      Reply
  3. Diana So

    Sounds so fun! I’m Laotian and although I’m not vegan, I do love me some great vegan food. I can’t give up my padaek just yet (I’m testing alternatives), because I love my thums (my favorite is the long bean or green mango one). But it’s great to know there are options out there whenever I visit one day. Happy you guys did find some gems out there.

    Reply
    1. Vegan Food Quest Post author

      Keep testing out those alternatives 🙂 It wasn’t the easiest of countries to be vegan in but we didn’t starve and we found some pretty good food in the bigger tourist spots. I expect that as tourism grows then the vegan versions of traditional Laotian food will start popping up in more places. Have you ever visited?

      Reply
    1. Vegan Food Quest Post author

      Moving to Vientiane…wow! Although I must admit it’s not my favourite SE Asian country to visit for vegan food, there are some good things to discover in Vientiane – the Laos Kitchen had the best food for me, hands down but it’s also great that there is good quality Indian food to be eaten too! Happy eating and do let us know anything new that you discover – post your pics to our FB page and keep in touch… good luck with the move 🙂

      Reply
  4. Katie and Nicola

    Oh my god thank you for this! Did you figure out the Laos translation? I am going to make a note for when we are there and we’re having problems finding a reliable sentence.

    So far we have: ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າພຽງແຕ່ກິນອາຫານພືດທີ່ (I only eat plants)

    I don’t think they have a specific word for ‘vegan’.

    Can you help us? Thanks, we love your blog, we’re travelling vegans too.

    Reply
    1. Vegan Food Quest Post author

      Hi Katie and Nicola,
      Thanks for the lovely message and I’m so glad you like our blog – we love to hep fellow travelling vegans! We never found a reliable way of communicating during our (short) time in Laos sadly but luckily we found enough places so we didn’t get too hungry on our travels! When are you planning to go?
      Caryl

      Reply

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