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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats

TOP PLACES TO EAT VEGAN IN LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

Updated: Mar 31, 2023


I could write a thousand love letters to Luang Prabang. Mike has been twice, I have been once, and we both have such happy and wholesome memories of the city. It is a place of incredible beauty, with UNESCO World Heritage status for its old French Colonial architecture, which meets its Southeast Asian roots. The streets are honestly magical, and there are very few places with people as genuine, friendly and honest as those we met in Luang Prabang.


The city feels so safe and friendly: whether you're someone who wants to hike up the the top of Mount Phousi like we did, or simply sit in a coffee shop and watch the world go by, you're in the right place. Life is lived at a tranquil pace here (a pace which is fondly known as Laos time, meaning it might be 11:40 and your 11:25 bus still hasn't come but it will arrive eventually, don't worry). You will find so many friendly faces willing to help you with anything you need, with bookshops, bakeries, and so many art shops to stroll in and out of while you're looking for something to while away the day or remind you of this outstanding place when you're back home.


And there's no beating a trip to Kuang Si falls when it comes to magical, picturesque, natural beauty. These waterfalls are crystal clear and turquoise in the dry season; we visited in the wet season and they were green and rapid, offering a different kind of beauty but one that we found no less magical. We were warned that it wouldn't be 'instagrammable' in the wet season but honestly, that didn't matter to me: it still absolutely blew my mind.


Eating Vegan in Luang Prabang

"When I arrived in Laos and found young Americans living there, out of free choice, I was surprised. After only a week, I began to have a sense of the appeal of the country and its people" – Noam Chomsky

Because Luang Prabang is so beautiful, it has become popular with tourists of all ages, and consequently lots of restaurants and market stalls now cater to tourists. While this can mean that the cuisine becomes less authentic (adapted to suit often Western tastes) it can also sometimes mean more options for vegans and vegetarians. As a former French colony, Laos already had a lot of Western influence in its cooking (you can see the french influence in some of the many bakeries in Luang Prabang and Vientiane!) Though the vegan scene isn't as developed as in many parts of Southeast Asia, we were pleasantly surprised by the options that were available to us as plant-based tourists. Watch our video and read our recommendations below to check out our favourite places to get vegan food in Luang Prabang.



1st: Two Little Birds Cafe

Kingkitsalat Rd, Luang Prabang, Laos

Two Little Birds is a really friendly and tranquil cafe in the heart of Luang Prabang. We headed there for some healthy and hearty nutrition straight after the 17-hour bus journey over the Thai border. We were not disappointed by what we found at Two Little Birds.


We were served quickly by kind and efficient staff, after spending some time narrowing down what we wanted from their extensive menu of delicious plant-based options. In the end, Mike chose the red curry, whilst I went for the tofu satay lunch bowl. We were really happy with the quality, quantity and price of both dishes (each cost us ₭35,000, which is approximately £1.69, €1.91or $2.08).


Mike was really pleased with the vegetable-packed curry, and the sticky rice it was served with: nowhere does sticky rice quite like Laos! He was asked what level of spice he would prefer: he asked for just a little spice and it was perfect. The best part of the curry was the potato: man does Mike like potato in a Southeast Asian curry! There was so much to like about it - the sauce is thinner than a Western sauce which is exactly how it should be: light, tasty and satisfying.


The tofu satay lunch bowl was sweet and salty, and very fresh: it felt super healthy but was also filling with a really hearty portion. The big tasty chunks of tofu were the highlight of this dish, with the classic satay sauce making this a lively and memorable dish - the fresh rice, and pickled onions added so much extra depth and texture to my lunch bowl. I could eat it again now, it was so good!




2nd: Tamarind

V4VR+VMF, Kingkitsarath Rd, Luang Prabang, Laos

Tamarind Restaurant and Cooking School is a really great place to eat for a number of reasons. Firstly, they have a really comprehensive menu of traditional Laotian cuisine that includes plenty of vegetarian options that can easily be made vegan on request. Secondly, the restaurant is situated in a really tranquil and scenic spot, on the banks of the Nam Khan River. Thirdly, this friendly restaurant also has a cooking school that caters to all dietary requirements - so if you're inspired to try cooking some plant-based Laotian dishes, you can do so right here in this beautiful spot in the heart of Luang Prabang.


If you've been following our blogs and YouTube videos, you'll know that we visited Tamarind to get our first taste of a vegan version of the traditional dish Laap (also known as Larb), which originated in this very city. We were really impressed by the dish, which combined warm tofu with a tasty, slightly citrusy salad of beansprouts and tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber. It was perfect for a hot day in Laos! We found the restaurant a really welcoming place, and enjoyed some really tasty and traditional plant-based coffee and smoothies here too. We also could not believe how much we liked the bamboo chips that they gave us to snack on while we waited for our mains: we had no idea that bamboo was edible, let alone that it was so tasty!


The restaurant was reasonably priced, and the staff were really helpful: the menu does note that if you want your vegetarian and vegan dishes served without fish sauce, this must be specified when ordering. I checked this with the waiting staff who were very understanding: it was no problem at all to get my meal served fully vegan.



3rd: Bouang Asian Eatery

Ban Xieng Mene, Luang Prabang 06000, Laos

Bouang Asian Eatery is another great restaurant in Luang Prabang that serves vegetarian and vegan options alongside meat dishes. It is also another excellent place to get your hands on a vegan version of one of Laos' national dishes.

After a lot of searching, Bouang was the place where we managed to locate a plant-based version of the famous Laotian dish Or Lam.


We were really delighted to be able to find this dish in a restaurant that had caught our eyes from our first evening in Laos. It's hard to miss this really beautiful and inviting looking place as it lights up into the night on the breathtaking French Colonial Streets of Luang Prabang. They offer a fairly upmarket menu of Asian and Western classics as well as some of these more specific local dishes. There is a good selection of vegetarian dishes on the menu, which can be made vegan on request since everything is homemade. The staff speak English and French, and we found them to be very friendly and willing to help. Their dishes are more expensive than many of the things we tried in Laos (the Or Lam cost us $5.50 per portion; approximately £4.44, €5.06 or ₭92,660.10). However the quality of the food, the freshness of the ingredients, and the experience inside this really pretty restaurant speaks for itself.



4th: Luang Prabang Night Market

Chaofa Ngum Rd, Luang Prabang, Laos

I mean, even if you're not going there to eat, you absolutely have to visit Luang Prabang Night Market. In the evening the streets transform into a huge market where locals and tourists intermingle. Be ready to get your haggle on! The market really is incredible, and much friendlier than many of the more frantic night bazaars across Southeast Asia. Not only can you buy art and souvenirs, many of the artists will actually be working on their products in between sales, so you can see the crafts actually being made.


There are food stalls throughout the streets, but we set our sights on the main food market, where lots of tables and chairs are set up with the stalls around the outside. Though the choices for vegetarians and vegans are limited, there are several obvious choices - and stall holders, many of whom speak good English, will be more than happy to discuss your dietary preferences with you. I got very adept at saying 'no meat, no dairy, no fish sauce please', but wherever you are in the world, you can always rely on Google Translate and an app like V-Cards to help!


During our visits to Luang Prabang's night market, we tried a variety of plant based dishes, including tofu banh mi, vegetable stir fry, puffed sticky rice cakes, and our surprise favourite - crispy river weed! The atmosphere at the market is always buzzing, and there's even a stage for live entertainment. We caught the end of a Luang Prabang basketball match here and the atmosphere was electric - we were heartbroken when they lost by a really slim margin! Though it is ranked fourth due to the limited variety of plant-based options, what we would say is that prices here are as cheap as they get, and for the experience alone we hugely recommend paying the food stalls at Luang Prabang Night Market a visit or two!


Which is your favourite place to get plant-based food in Luang Prabang? Are there any new places or old favourites that we've missed? Leave us a comment to let us know (and others who might be visiting too!)


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Kuang Si Falls is one of my favourite places in Laos

Where should I stay?

For a social vibe, rooftop infinity pool, parties and the camaraderie of dorm rooms, check out Mad Monkey Hostel Luang Prabang, which receives consistently high reviews from its guests.


For more of a serene vibe, Soutikone Place House 2 is family run and traditionally decorated, with private bathrooms and free toiletries.


Tours & Experiences

We really recommend a trip to Kuang Si Falls while you're in Luang Prabang. These waterfalls are absolutely stunning all year round, but especially in the dry season when they're turquoise blue. You can hike around the falls, capture some amazing photos - and some pools you can even swim in (but be sure to only swim in the ones clearly marked for swimming, as some of the pools are considered holy here. This day trip includes a trip to Kuang Si, as well as a Mekong slowboat cruise, and a chance to see the famous Pak Ou Caves.


If that's not quite for you, or if you want to explore Laos a bit more widely, why not try one of the top-rated Viator tours below?


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