Photo: Market snacks.

Eat and meet

Phongsali is a quiet place and predictably, so is the food scene. Finding a meal does involve walking around trying to find something that’s open and appealing.

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Longstanding Sone Lao Coffee is one of the best bets. Friendly Ma Sone whips up hot or iced drinks like Lao coffee, Ovaltine or green tea, as well as breakfast and tasty, reasonably priced local dishes like noodle soups and stir-fries. The place has a homey feel with the professionally taken family photos hanging on the wall and the dishes prepared within sightline. It’s a welcoming little place for those needing to know exactly what they’re going to get. Find it just east of Viphaphone Hotel.

Sindad can be hard to beat.

Sindad can be hard to beat. Photo: Cindy Fan

Not far from Sone Lao Coffee, across from Phongsaly Hotel is a sindad restaurant where hungry travellers can warm up and fill up with Lao-style hot pot. A brazier of hot coals is placed in the centre of the table and a pan doubles as both meat grill and steam boat for cooking vegetables, noodles and egg in a broth. As frozen hikers thaw, the meat sizzles, the beer flows and locals at other tables begin offering travellers lao lao rice whiskey—this place can be a lively spot in an otherwise dull town. Best of all, when shared with a group, sindad usually works out to be 30,000 to 50,000 kip per person.

Feeling snacky? Both the permanent market in the town centre and the morning market, on the road in front of Viphaphone Hotel from around 06:00-10:00, has nibbles from fritter-type deep-fried sweets and fresh soy milk to noodle soup and grilled meat eaten with sticky rice. Follow your senses, poke around and give something a try.

One thing Phongsali has plenty of.

One thing Phongsali has plenty of. Photo: Cindy Fan

Chinese restaurants don’t usually have a menu. It’s a matter of looking at what they have and telling them how you want it prepared, not easy if you don’t speak Chinese or Lao. We suggest pointing at the ingredients and use charades or take a chance and see what they come up with.

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Popular attractions in Phongsali

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Phongsali.

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Where to next?

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

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