The cafe scene in Vientiane can only be described as a phenomenon – high quality cafes have sprung up just about everywhere you turn and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it is the best coffee and croissants you’ll find in all of Southeast Asia. If you appreciate a proper brew or enjoy surfing the internet in an air-conditioned space, you're in the right place: the coffee is excellent, often using beans grown right in Laos, plus air-con and free WiFi are standard.
Vientiane has some of the best bakeries in Southeast Asia so there’s little difficulty finding fresh bread or tasty pastries. Joma Bakery Cafe rival Common Grounds serves up some of the best Mexican in town as well as some great bakery items in very child-friendly surrounds.... Read our full review of Common Grounds.
Shakes are made with fresh fruit and blended to perfection; not too watery, not too thick. Flavours range from banana (tasty but mundane) to starfruit (more exotic, but slightly sour) to lemon mint (extremely refreshing). Most cost 6,000 to 8,000 kip, and you can add natural yoghurt to your smoothie for 4,000 kip more. Though the shakes are their namesake, don't overlook the food. Wholesome... Read our full review of House of Fruit Shakes.
For pastries that will transport you to Paris, Le Banneton serves up fresh croissants, danishes and all those other buttery, flakey, oh-so-sinful morning bakery treats. The baguettes are also good, as are the cakes and breakfast and lunch sets. Though not nearly as atmospheric or memorable as Le Banneton in Luang Prabang, one tends to forget such things when sinking their teeth into a second... Read our full review of Le Banneton.
Benoni Cafe is a hugely popular place to meet and eat, no doubt because its located on the stretch of Setthathirath Road that everyone gravitates to, and also because the menu is both good and good value. The morning croissants are to die for (seriously) and at lunch you can tuck into both Western and Asian fare. Try a huge salad heaped with chicken or brie for 40,000 kip, a pad thai for 25,000... Read our full review of Benoni Cafe.
Noy’s Fruit Heaven is both fruity and heavenly. It’s also conveniently located in the town centre. House of Fruit Shakes is much cheaper but further away. Choose any of the tropical fruits heaped up in a dazzling display out front – passion fruit, coconut, mangos, pineapple, to name a few – or pick one of their recommended medleys. Take it to go or sit in their cafe and enjoy free... Read our full review of Noy’s Fruit Heaven.
This cafe knows what nomads want, especially the nomads waiting outside for their visas at the Thai Consulate 70 metres away. The cute, cheerful eatery specialises in paninis, both traditional Italian and fusion – we recommend you step out of your comfort zone and try the tasty bulgogi beef panini (35,000 kip). They of course also have coffee, chai tea and breakfast sets that start at 25,000... Read our full review of Cafe Nomad.
Every coffee imaginable? Check. Latte art? Check, check. Great work tables, plenty of electrical outlets, bright lighting, air-con, delicious salads, the smell of ground coffee beans wafting through the air and WiFi. Yes to all of the above. No wonder Naked Espresso has a cult following in Vientiane. This cafe, with two locations in town, is the place to meet up, do business, collaborate, write... Read our full review of Naked Espresso.
Great coffee and croissants are never far away in Vientiane, with more than a dozen cafes all vying for business in the few blocks that front the river near Wat Ong Theu. One of the best spots for people-watching is Cafe Sinouk, which serves its own brand of coffee grown on their plantations in the Bolaven Plateau, southern... Read our full review of Cafe Sinouk.
Croissant d'Or serves up delicious pastries, coffee and breakfast a few doors up from Le Banneton. The pastries are not as authentic as Le Banneton, but Croissant d'Or still does delicious treats in a relaxing and less busy atmosphere than some of the other cafes. The pastries, such as pain au chocolat, almond croissant and fruit pies might feel a little heavy in the tropics, but they are... Read our full review of Croissant d'Or .
Joma Bakery Cafe is something of a phenomenon with locations now in Hanoi and Phnom Penh, but Vientiane is where it all started in the late 90s. Joma remains a crowd pleaser, heaven sent for backpackers who have had one too many noodle soups or fried rice. The North American-style cafe offers a broad variety of cooked breakfasts, homemade soups, bagels, create-your-own sandwiches, pizza, lasagne... Read our full review of Joma Bakery Cafe.
Finding this long-established eatery is a challenge but worth it. Tucked at the end of a local dead end laneway and shrouded by a jungle of vines, cute, cheap and cheerful Kung’s Cafe serves up Lao soups, stir-fry and curries for only 15,000 to 20,000 kip a dish. The yellow, red and green curries are all tasty, as well as the stir-fried veg and meat (or tofu for vegetarians). While nothing... Read our full review of Kung’s Cafe Lao.
If you really love coffee, head straight to Le Trio roastery when you are looking for an excellent cup of world-class Lao coffee in Vientiane. A gleaming roasting machine from Germany occupies most of the modest space at Le Trio, along with stacks of high quality Arabica and Robusta beans all grown in Laos. It’s boutique, a little hipster and the machinery is fancypants; but at the end of... Read our full review of Le Trio.
You are in Laos after all! You can try some of the country’s best noodle soups in Vientiane, or go full on local at the street stalls. If you find roadside eating a bit too much, there are some outstanding Lao food restaurants well worth exploring. Makphet in particular should not be missed.
You are probably familiar with Vietnamese pho (feuhr) but there is also Lao pho, with a style and flavour of its own, usually made with beef or pork. It’s served with a massive serving of greens – lettuce, mint, basil, fresh lime, bean sprouts, plus raw green beans which you dunk into the sweet peanut satay dip and munch... Read our full review of Noodle soup in Vientiane.
Tucked away on the alley between Wat Ong Teu and the river road, Pha Khao Lao is often overlooked, but shouldn't be if you're on the lookout for excellent Lao and Thai cooking. The restaurant has a back garden terrace and wooden deck shrouded in lanterns and frangipani trees, creating excellent evening ambience. The extensive menu has a little something for everyone. This is a great place to... Read our full review of Pha Khao Lao .
Sister to the popular restaurant in Luang Prabang, Tamnak Lao restaurant in Vientiane is a little harder to find, though well worth it. In operation since 1993, it's become a local favourite that serves authentic Lao cuisine in a restored colonial house and garden. Try the six-course tasting menu of classic Lao dishes or order a la carte for larger portions of laap with fresh herbs, Mekong... Read our full review of Tamnak Lao.
It’s no surprise that this popular Vientiane restaurant outgrew its old space and had to move to bigger, brighter digs. Now there are plenty of tables in a pleasant garden setting to accommodate the demand. Its popularity is well deserved, and not just because of the delicious food. Makphet is a vocational training restaurant offering marginalised, at-risk youth (often former street youth)... Read our full review of Makphet.
If you want to try authentic Lao food in an elegant restaurant, head to Amphone. The food is as appealing as the serene setting and it was good enough for celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's introduction to Lao cuisine when he visited in 2008. Dishes like laap, eggplant dip, grilled fish and curries are richly seasoned with fresh herbs and fish sauce and, unless you request it extra spicy, the use... Read our full review of Amphone.
On a quiet side street and hidden behind a bountiful wall of potted plants, Ban Vilaylac does delicious authentic Lao dishes like laap and homemade sausage, as well as Thai coconut curries, soups and fried dishes. There is a good selection and many stir-frys and curries can be made with tofu and without meat. The whole fish, often fresh from the river and cooked with lemongrass, garlic and herbs,... Read our full review of Ban Vilaylac.
Along Fa Ngum Road, the quay along the Mekong, as well as the smaller side streets running off it, you'll invariably find plenty of barbecues and make-shift restaurants. Most are hastily assembled just before sundown and stacked away around 22:00, though some open earlier and close later. The food is simple but tasty, and the staples are grilled chicken, fish, spicy papaya salad and spring... Read our full review of Night market stalls on the river.
In a beautifully restored colonial mansion, Kua Lao has a great atmosphere and popular set menus of Lao food and wine. Every evening there is a cultural performance of traditional music and dance, and the diners are an interesting mix of package tourists and Vientiane's well-heeled. The food is high-quality and presented beautifully, though the price of the show is factored into the food and... Read our full review of Kua Lao.
Vientiane has a large Vietnamese community and you can find some of the best Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam here. The large amount of Korean business interests and Japanese projects have also given rise to a number of very good restaurants serving up food from Korea and Japan.
You’ll probably smell the baskets of fresh baguettes before you see PVO and their sandwich stand out in front. This shop is famous in Vientiane for banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches made from crunchy baguettes stuffed with pate, a variety of meats, veg, pickles and chilli sauce. In fact, it surpasses some of the banh mi we’ve had in Vietnam. Here you can also dig into an awesome bun bo, a... Read our full review of PVO.
Pho Zap (pronounced saep, which means delicious) doles out steaming, flavourful bowls of beef pho at a breakneck pace for breakfast and lunch, popular even on the hottest of days. The sign out front says “since 1958” and while we can’t verify this claim, we do know that this joint has been here for many years and it’s known as the best pho in town. Standard bowls come with thin slices of... Read our full review of Pho Zap.
Warning: nem nuong/nueng is delicious, filling, cheap and highly addictive. A popular hands-on feast food in both Vietnam and Laos, grilled pork meat balls come with platters of good things to stuff in a wrap: sour slices of starfruit, garlic, rice vermicelli, chilli cucumber, mounds of mint and other greens. Roll everything up in lettuce or rice paper, dip in the tangy sweet chilli peanut sauce... Read our full review of Viengsavanh.
If you’re in the neighbourhood of Vientiane’s Thai consulate, you’ll find an abundance of Korean restaurants. Of the various to choose from, we reckon Seoul has the best food, cooked fresh and seasoned well. It’s 250 metres east of the Thai consulate on Bourichane... Read our full review of Seoul Restaurant.
Many of the Indian restaurants in Vientiane have shut but Nazim has held out. While it won’t knock your socks off, if you’re craving Indian food it will do the trick. The extensive menu offers the usual favourites like chicken tikka masala (40,000 kip), tandoori chicken (40,000 kip), and the staples biriyani rice, dahl and naan bread. They also have some South Indian specialties like the... Read our full review of Nazim.
Osaka is a cosy air-conditioned restaurant serving delicious sushi, ramen and fried Japanese dishes in quirky surrounds, at a price kind on the wallet. The menu is all over the place and reads a bit like an encyclopaedia of Japanese cuisine, with some dishes done better than others. We find the walls frantically plastered with homemade signs promoting certain dishes rather endearing. Sashimi... Read our full review of Osaka.
The international dining here is superb with nationals from around the globe opening up small restaurants. Vientiane has long been famous for its French food; now the Italians are giving the French some competition. The number of fantastic Italian restaurants that have opened is mind-boggling but we certainly aren’t complaining. We haven’t listed them all -- you’ll find them.
Nestled into the edge of Nam Phou fountain, La Cave des Chateaux is a top choice for atmosphere. The rustic stone walls make for cosy seating downstairs, while the balcony upstairs offers a romantic setting. The recent revamping of Nam Phou square is somewhat at odds with the restaurant’s colonial charm, but La Cave is still a lovely spot for dinner, with friendly owners and excellent staff.... Read our full review of La Cave des Chateaux .
Opened in 2014, bistro La Cage du Coq is the latest addition to the French food scene. Named after the iconic spherical bamboo cages used by locals to keep their roosters, those cages have been cleverly turned into lampshades. Colourful retro bar stools and chilled out tunes round out the hip, casual atmosphere. There are daily specials along with soups, salads, duck leg confit, savoury tarts,... Read our full review of La Cage du Coq.
Offering excellent quality food at the higher end of the price spectrum, Bistro 22 is located on Samsenthai Rd, 500 metres from Lane Xang. For meat lovers, the one kilogram steak meal or the rack of lamb is recommended. The good service and calm atmosphere make for a lovely evening of fine... Read our full review of Bistro 22.
The long-established Le Silipa is another favourite for French food in Vientiane. It’s located on Setthathirath Rd above I-Beam bar, where most diners pair their meal with pre or post-dinner drinks and jazz. Overall, the food is good and well seasoned, and the thick and juicy steaks are the star. The lunch set menu lets you choose how much you want to stuff yourself, one course is 65,000 kip,... Read our full review of Le Silipa.
L’Adresse de Tinay, located on the small lane south of Wat Ong Teu, is considered one of the best French restaurants in town. It radiates ritz with its professional service and lavish menu that features a mix of fine dining and bistro fare such as tuna tartare (68,000 kip), whole duck breast (130,000 kip) and Grandma Lydie’s special cassoulet (130,000 kip). The daily three-course set menu is... Read our full review of L’Adresse de Tinay.
If “jamon Iberico” or “500 gram ribeye” is music to your ears, then Pimenton is the place to treat yourself. This sophisticated and social tapas bar and steakhouse serves outstanding bites — even the complimentary grilled bread and aioli are... Read our full review of Pimenton.
Ai Capone’s woodfire pizza could compete with any pizzeria in Italy; it’s that good. In fact, it is some of the best pizza we’ve had, so it will come as no surprise that this Vientiane restaurant is owned by an Italian... Read our full review of Ai Capone.
So many restaurants in Vientiane claim to have the best burger in town but Ray’s Grille could very well take the crown. The joint is casual, the menu is small but it packs a punch with all the best comfort food: Philly cheese steak sandwich, quesadilla, enormous Cobb Salad, falafel and their famed burger, made with imported beef grilled on the barbecue out front. The standard burger comes... Read our full review of Ray's Grille.
Sticky Fingers is a long-standing Vientiane favourite serving casual fare and fancier fusion dishes. There’s something for everyone with international selections like chicken quesadillas, falafel plates, fish dishes with Asian flair and Lao basil pesto. It also offers a great variety of comfort foods, with delicious bangers and mash and mouth-watering bacon cheeseburgers. It will set you back a... Read our full review of Sticky Fingers.
Chokdee Cafe is Vientiane's only Belgian bar, and it proudly displays its heritage with abundant, yet tasteful, Belgian beer paraphernalia and Tin Tin imagery. In addition to more than 40 Belgian beers, most with names we can’t pronounce, Chokdee Cafe serves up meat-centric Belgian fare of steaks, kebabs, sausages, stoofvlees (beef stew), burgers and the ever popular moules-frites, with... Read our full review of Chokdee Cafe.
There’s been an explosion of Italian restaurants in Vientiane however Aria was one of the originals. The decor of this long-standing restaurant is somewhat dated but who cares since they have thin-crust wood-fire oven pizzas with high quality toppings, house-made pasta with great sauces, risotto and a range of meat dishes. They also have what looks like an encyclopaedia of Italian wine... Read our full review of Aria.
Vientiane has some fantastic and memorable watering holes, from lively local beer bars on the Mekong with killer sunset views, to cosy cocktail jazz joints and sleek, sophisticated wine bars. Beer, wine and spirits in Vientiane are cheaper than in Thailand due to Thailand’s high alcohol tax, plus stiff competition here (no pun intended) means almost all upscale bars have a happy hour. With quality cocktails and decent house wine by the glass usually costing 30,000 to 60,000 kip, Vientiane is definitely the place to get your drink on, but you have to start early as a citywide curfew means most bars close at midnight.
Dapper waiters in crisp white shirts and fitted black vests shake up classic cocktails in this sophisticated yet low-key, understated bar. Dresden Lao is the child of Dresden Japan, a bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo established in 1951. Story has it that patrons of Dresden Japan requested they open another in Vientiane and in 2014 Dresden Lao was born. The uniforms match the sleek monochrome decor and... Read our full review of Dresden Lao.
While most of the city’s nightlife is based along the river and the nearby roads, Deja Vu is a cubbyhole at Nam Phou fountain square. It’s been around for a decade and it managed to survive the fountain’s 2012 flashy redevelopment. It remains discreet, with just a sign on the door saying ‘yes, we’re open’ to reveal itself and entice you in. A single long bar dominates the narrow... Read our full review of Deja Vu.
As carefree as its name ('no worries' in Lao) suggests, this is a popular traveller bar and restaurant right on the riverfront. At the top of this four-storey building is a great rooftop bar with pool, snooker, sports on TV and a restaurant. Patrons from all walks of life and corners of society congregate here making it an excellent spot for some grade-A people watching. Note: this is not a... Read our full review of Bor Pen Nyang.
This retro-fabulous bar will transport you to your Aunt Linda’s living room circa 1972. The second floor is a treasure trove of vintage furniture, old television sets (remember when you had to get up to change the channel?) and lamps, the warm lighting illuminating the exposed brick. Throw in some jazzy tunes and you have a fantastic, cosy spot for cocktails. The downstairs area, renovated in... Read our full review of Jazzy Brick.
The Spirit House is one of Vientiane's best watering holes, with an excellent cocktail menu and satisfying selection of Western and Lao food. The bartenders take great pride in their cocktails, which include some creative concoctions like a green-tea infused gin and tonic or a martini with sake and pickled ginger. If you're not that adventurous, there's more familiar mixes plus imported beers,... Read our full review of The Spirit House.
3 Yaek Pakpasak is packed as soon as the work day is over (and sometimes earlier than that) with locals wanting to unwind, drink beer with friends, eat spicy snacks, sing along with the live band and a catch a stunning sunset over the river from an elevated position. The beer garden is a fun place to rub elbows and chat with the locals – you’ll no doubt find yourself taking turns toasting... Read our full review of 3 Yaek Pakpasak .
I-Beam offers cocktails at price levels similar to Jazzy Brick, plus an elaborate wine and tapas menu. The decor is modern, the service is good and the drinks are well made. The tapas are tasty and the wine selection is excellent, but neither come cheap, which is part of the reason why Wednesday’s Ladies Night is so popular – women get 50% off glasses of wine. The live jazz performances,... Read our full review of I-Beam.
Further down Fa Ngum, where the river widens, The Highland perches over one of the best riverfront views in Vientiane. If you're burning to watch the big game, this is the place to go. They'll show just about any sport on their three flatscreen TVs. Due to the time difference, they tend to favour those live in Australia and Europe. The base of this open-air sports bar and restaurant is a... Read our full review of The Highland Bar.