Down by the river is pretty much as lively as it gets in Vientiane. Various chilled-out riverside joints serve traditional Thai and Southeast Asian dishes to be enjoyed while overlooking the Mekong. Some restaurants reside on stilts others are sidewalk based, each offering a different experience of the surrounding area.
There is a distinct European charm when dining out in Vientiane, where you can watch the locals and tourists go about their business; an experience sometimes lost in the more hectic and polluted cities of Hanoi and Bangkok.
Alternatively, the restaurants with river views that overlook the banks of bordering Thailand offer a decidedly unique and relaxed choice for an evening meal – mosquito repellant is a must! The area is also renowned for mouth-watering Indian curry, complete with all the trimmings. Away from the river, dining options are as varied as the eclectic group of travelers that frequent the area.
This is perhaps the best restaurant in Vientiane to dine on Japanese food at great prices. Sushi, sashimi, miso soups, tempura…you just name it! Fujiwara Restaurant offers Japanese delicacies in an agreeable atmosphere.
Location: Rue Setthathinath
Tel: (021) 222210
This is one of the finest eateries in Vientiane to sample delicious Laotian fare buffet style. A wide range of beef, turkey, chicken and seafood dishes, along with a tempting assortment of refreshing dessert specialties form part of its extensive menu. In addition to local cuisine, Chinese and Thai delicacies are also served here. The restaurant is equally noteworthy for its luxurious, spotless setting complemented by the friendly staff.
Location: 077 10 Hongkha St Hongkha Tai Vientiane Cap
Despite its distinctive English pub ambience, Inter City Hotel Restaurant offers a diverse menu of salads, spaghetti, steaks, snacks and seafood items. Another specialty of the restaurant is its beer selection that covers everything from locally prepared Beerlao to imported Carlsberg and Heineken.
Opening Hours: 08:00 to 22:00
Location: Quai Fa Ngum
Tel: +8562121 5137
A favorite with expats, backpackers and tourists, this colonial-style building has a great menu of Laos and international dishes, each page reflecting the different types of customers. For example, the 'Backpacker Page' is where you will find spring rolls and other reliable dishes; likewise the 'Laos Discovery Set' takes you through various short courses of typical Lao dishes. The 'Expatriate Relief Page' is packed with home-cooked favorites such as pizza, pasta and hearty stews.
Location: Southwest of Nam Phu Fountain, Around Town.
Remarks: Credit Cards: Master Card and Visa
Set in a classic old colonial mansion, Kualao serves traditional Laos cuisine in a traditional atmosphere and décor. The genuine period furniture and arrangements make for a charming atmosphere in which to appreciate Laos dishes such as som tam Laos, deep-fried fish, spring rolls, Laos sausage, and vegetables in fish sauce – all complemented by a decent wine list. Try a set menu if you are unfamiliar with Laos food, and if you are on nodding terms with the local cuisine venture into the a la carte choices served by staff in traditional costume.
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 22:30
Location: 141 Samsenthai Road (Centrally Located)
Tel: 856-21 215 777
Price Range: Moderate
If French cuisine is your favourite, then be sure not to miss out this bistro that is owned by a French couple, Tinay and Delphine. In its upscale setting, L’Adresse dishes up a slew of cuisines that range from starters and salads including goat cheese rolls, tuna tartare, tomato mozzarella and marrow cream soup to main courses such as cassoulet served with home-made confit duck and French cheeses. Further, its dessert specialties cover homemade ice creams made available in a variety of flavours like coconut, orange and vanilla.
Location: Wat Ongteu (behind the temple) Parallel to Setthathirath Road
This is a restaurant to try authentic and scrumptious traditional Lao dishes. Among many of its specialties is chicken served with mouth-watering chili sauce, grilled Mekong fish, Pakse-style pork sausage, Luang Prabang-style stew, stir-fried ginger and bamboo shoot stew. A long list of beverages as well as desserts is also included in its menu and refreshing lemon mint freeze, water melon shake and sticky rice with mango/banana and coconut milk are just name to few. Best of all, Lao Kitchen is a clean eatery with an elegant setting.
Opening Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Wednesday to Monday)
Location: Rue Hengboun, Opposite KP Hotel
For over ten years L’Opera, has been serving up (arguably) the best Italian food in Vientiane. Featuring homemade egg noodle pasta, 'Pizza Laos' (tomatoes, cheese, chilies and Laos sausage) and daily specials all topped off by delicious wines and a tidy shot of espresso.
Location: On the Fountain Circle, in the centre of town.
Remarks: Credit Cards: American Express, Visa, Master Card
The chosen eatery of the Australian Prime Minister when he came to town, Le Silapa serves up delectable French cuisine enhanced by the native French chef who adds to the restaurant's warm ambience with his hands-on approach. When confronted with the modest shop-front you will be hard pushed conjure up ideas of mouth watering steak tartar or whitefish laced with lemon and parsley but they're all here.
Address: Ban Haysok, Around Town.
Cuisine: French, Continental
Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Asia by Miele Guide, Makphet not only allows you to taste a sumptuous array of Lao/Cambodian dishes, cocktails and shakes in a chic, elegant setting but also enables you to become a part of noble cause. After all, it’s a training restaurant run by the Friends-International – a NGO that is devoted to fund and support indigent street children. Tucked away in an old French villa, this venue is further unique in terms of its flavorsome foods prepared using fresh, naturally-grown ingredients. Noi-Noi – a shopping selling handicraft items, is also attached to the restaurant.
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 21:00
Location: Behind Wat Ong Teu
For Chinese food lovers, this is one of the must-visit restaurants in Vientiane. Along with its tastefully decorated comfy atmosphere, May Yuan is highly famed for its Cantonese, Szechuan, Teochew and dim sum dishes. Located in the mezzanine floor of Lao Plaza Hotel, it is also a great place to sip a wide variety of drinks including beer, red wine, white wine and whisky.
Opening Hours: 11:30 - 14:00 and 18:30 - 22:00
Location: Lao Plaza Hotel, 63 Samsenethai Road
With everything from tandori to biyrani and all that comes in between, Nazim offers a vast menu of Indian cuisine (and beer to wash it down) situated along the Mekong. The staff can sometimes act as if they would rather be sitting where you are, but the food is tasty and the prices are reasonable, making this a popular backpacker spot and an expat joint.
Location: Located on Fa Ngoum Road.
Price Range: US$1 - US$2.50
Nok Noy features a short and simple menu that offers a choice between fried noodles, fried rice and noodles, or plain soup. Each is made with your choice of chicken, pork, beef or vegetables. This is nonetheless a popular spot with foreigners and locals alike because of its cheap prices, efficient service, generous portions and great location.
Address: Fa Ngum Road
Tel: +85620777 8999
This is one of the few eating places in Vientiane where both locals and tourists can be found enjoying basic but tasty food and a cold Beer Lao. The central location and affordable food make this a popular spot. The menu is a combination of light western and traditional Laotian food, so you can enjoy the American Breakfast or be a little more adventurous and experiment with a traditional Lao salad. Diners enjoy eating outdoors among an array of potted plants.
Address: 36 Setthathirath Road
Started by Australians who came to Laos with the U.N. involved in NGO work, the menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, and snacks. It's got the corner on the casual business lunch and the after-work crowd. Try a burger, sandwich, or steak and be sure to choose from the impressive list of homemade dips and sauces that can be taken out, too.
Location: Situated across from the Tai-Pan Hotel
Price Range: US$2.80 - US$7.50
Xang Khoo is a classic French bistro that offers a wide range of appetizing, fresh French and Asian dishes in a friendly, romantic and stylish ambience. From pasta seafood items, chicken delicacies and crepe rustique to espresso coffee, chocolate mousse, lassi mango and fresh fruit salad, a whole lot of options are available to gratify your taste buds.
Location: 68 Pangkham Road