Photo: A misty morning.

Eat and meet

Finding a decent place to eat in town is not that easy with only one restaurant worthy of being called a tourist restaurant. Dan Nao Meuang Xam Restaurant is its name and it’s just around the corner from the main string of guesthouses along the riverfront. They serve up a range of local dishes and some iffy Western options, but we found the food to be lacking in the taste department. Still, it fills a hole and you may unfortunately find yourself eating here for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you’re uncomfortable eating noodle soup at local shops.

Just around the corner from the tourist office are a couple of eating joints of note. Firstly is a Vietnamese shop, open only in the mornings, which serves up delicious rice porridge much like Chinese congee or Indonesian bubur. They also have a selection of rice paper rolls on sale in boxes out the front. Don’t be too put off by the seemingly unsanitary conditions of the shop. The food is good and we aren’t sick yet.

Directly opposite the Vietnamese rice porridge shop is a noodle shop which does fantastic pork noodle soup. If you like pork and you like noodle soup, this is a top option. Lumps of largely boneless crispy skin pork are placed inside a broth of high quality. You can choose between flat rice noodles or thinner style noodles depending on your mood and free tea is on each table. You may get some lumps of congealed pigs’ blood in your broth, but if you’re not into that, it’s not that big a turn off -- they don’t taint the broth or leak blood.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Sam Neua? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.

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