Photo: What is for breakfast?

Eat and meet

If you’re at the old bus station and have time in between connections, the town’s good eateries are only a few blocks away and it would be worth it to stretch your legs and pop in for a bite.

Walk five minutes to the roundabout for Siso Bakery, a tiny spot selling an assortment of baguettes including Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwiches, pizzas and pizza baguettes akin to old-school pizza subs. Sometimes they run out of cheese, meaning some of the menu items aren’t available, but don’t let this put you off. The other food on the small menu fills the belly and is yummy too.

Located between the river and Litthavixay Guesthouse just off the main road is Kanya Restaurant, which serves a large menu of Lao food in bright, clean surrounds. You can count on fast service and enormous portions with good quality meat. The dishes are so big that one can easily be shared between two people making it a cheap option. The fried pork in coconut milk at 40,000 kip is an absolute winner and even the fried rice is cheap and tasty. There are also plenty of vegetarian stir-fry options too, starting at 30,000 kip. Beer is cheap and the fresh orange juice is refreshing after a day of travel. This is one of our favourite places to eat in town and you’ll discover that others feel the same way. If you’re just passing through Udomxai, it’s worth the 10-minute hike with your backpack from the bus station.

Mrs Amphone Restaurant, a few doors down from neon green Litthavixay Guesthouse, does brisk business in the morning and for a good reason. Try the fresh khao piak noodle soup with crispy pork. It’s tasty and the bowl is so enormous that even we struggled to finish it. Only 15,000 kip for a bowl.

Hidden behind a wall of potted plants and vines is small, charming Supailin Restaurant, a place serving northern Lao-style food in a town full restaurants catering to Chinese tastes. The menu includes soups, noodle, rice and stir-fry dishes, papaya salad and laap, all at good prices. It has several books full of recommendations by travellers from all over the world. Praise is mostly for the very friendly and entertaining woman who runs the place, but also for the delicious food. The cheap pad Thai (20,000 kip) is well reviewed and is indeed pretty good. Sometimes the shop has shirts for sale from ethnic minorities such as Tai Dam, Khmu, Lue and Yuan for 50,000 to 100,000 kip, along with some pretty modern Lao-style shirts too. Be prepared to wait for your meals here. It’s a one-woman show and sometimes a wait in excess of an hour and a half is required so if you’re starving, you may well go mad. Some say great food is worth waiting for, but... well, there’s a limit! It’s located just off the main road in the Western end of town, near the post office, a short walk that’s worth it.

Muang Nuea is located halfway between the river and the bus station and serves up a range of Lao dishes and a few Western favourites. It’s more popular with locals than tourists ensuring quality is good and prices are low. The Lao coffee here is tops and is served in nice cups -- a welcome change to the norm in Laos.

The Sinouk Cafe in Charming Lao Hotel just off the main road on the road to Phongsali serves a good range of tasty Western and Lao food at reasonable prices. The coffee is espresso, the bread is real and the ice cream delicious. It’s a good choice for something a bit more modern. Free WiFi.

There’s a market in the heart of town and here you can pick up perfect looking but bland tasting fruit from China, some local seasonal fruit and fresh young coconut water ready to drink from the shell.

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