Photo: Pak Ou caves.

Local breakfasts in Luang Prabang

Local breakfasts in Luang Prabang

Most hotels in Luang Prabang include breakfast with the room rate and even small guesthouses usually serve basic baguette, Lao coffee and some fruit. The town has some yummy and cheap local morning eats so it’d be a pity if you didn’t venture away from the hotel at least once to try one of these breakfast dishes.

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You’ve got to try it!

Khao piak khao is a Lao favorite. This thick rice soup (called khao tom in Thailand) usually comes with pork meatballs, scallions, crisp deep-fried garlic, slivers of ginger and cilantro. For a really hearty meal, ask to add an egg (khai) and get deep-fried dough fritters for dipping — they are often sold at a neighbouring stand. Once the steaming bowl arrives, locals add condiments like a chemist: lime juice, chillies, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, MSG, ubiquitous Maggi sauce and whatever else is available on the table. We like the stand on the main street across from Wat Mai. Her khao piak khao does contain cubes of pig blood but if that doesn’t appeal to you, just ask for it without. It’s only 10,000 kip and be quick — it usually sells out by 09:30. Another popular spot is at the junction of the Mekong River and Kitsalat Road, near the moning market.

Not to be confused with the rice soup, khao piak is a noodle soup with thick handmade rice flour noodles and a delicious broth. Again, part of the fun is all the condiments and fixings like bean sprouts, poached egg, deep-fried garlic and crunchy rice crackers for dipping. Xiengthong Noodle on the main street serves up one of the best in town, only 12,000 kip a bowl with pork and egg. Opened 07:00 until 14:00.

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Khao piak noodle soup with pork and an egg is simple and ridiculously good.

You’ll also find tasty Lao versions of Vietnamese classics in Luang Prabang like khao ji pate (known as banh mi in Vietnam), baguette sandwiches filled with mystery cold cuts, pate, mayonnaise, cilantro and pickled veg. It’s an odd East-meets-French combination but somehow it works. Look for the stands early in the morning on Kitsalat Road near Dara Market or the baguette ladies making their rounds in local neighbourhoods.

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A hearty vegetarian dish for only 10,000 kip.

Nem leuang is similar to the Vietnamese omelet banh xeo. A thick crepe made from rice flour and turmeric is filled with spring onions, bean sprouts and morning glory and topped with ground peanuts and a delicious sweet-sour sauce – only 10,000 kip. Add sausage (15,000 kip) or chicken (20,000 kip). Look for the outdoor shack on the Mekong beside the big sindaat (Lao barbecue) buffet, directly behind the Morning Market. They make theirs on a wok over a wood fire. The setting is rustic but the tables are clean, service is friendly and yes, it’s incredibly yummy. Open 08:00 till 18:00.

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