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Last updated : Nov 2009
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Food & Drink

Rice, particularly sticky rice, is the staple food and dishes are Indo-Chinese in flavour and presentation. Lao food is sold in the small shops in the markets. Several pretty good French restaurants are available in Vientiane, catering primarily to the diplomatic community. Croissants and baguettes are usually eaten for breakfast.

Lao lao (rice whisky) is a favourite and there are 2 brands available. Lao beer is also very good.


Several discotheques are available in Vientiane and they usually provide live Lao bands. Most large hotels have their own nightclubs.


The markets in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, about 40 minutes by air from Vientiane are well worth visiting. Silk, silver jewellery and handmade shirts are good bargains. Although most shops have fixed prices, bartering is still recommended for antiques and other art objects.

Shopping hours: Monday-Friday 8.00 am - 4.00 pm; Monday-Saturday 9.00 am - 9.00 pm (private shops).

Special Events

Most festivals are linked to Buddhist holidays.

The below is a list of events taking place in 2006:
January Têt (Chinese New Year).
February Magha Puja (anniversary of a speech held by the Buddha), nationwide
April 13-15 Pi Mai (celebrations for the new lunar year), nationwide
May Visakha Bu-saa (Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and
death), nationwide; Bun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival),
September Haw Khao Padap Din (Festival of the Dead) nationwide
October 2-21 Ok Phansa Boat Race Festival, Vientiane
November Pha That Luang Festival (processions of monks receiving alms and floral votives; fireworks and music), Vientiane
Social Conventions

 Religious beliefs must be respected.

 Laotians should not be touched on the head.

 Handshaking is not very common, Lao people greet each other with their palms together and a slight bowing of the head.

 Be careful when discussing politics and similar subjects so as not to cause offence.

 Shorts or revealing clothes are not widely acceptable.


Practiced modestly in restaurants and hotels.
Useful travel links
Happy Cow Laos guide to vegetarian restaurants in Laos
Laos-Food all about food in Laos