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Photo Journal Part 1 : Travel Adventures in Laos

By March 14, 2018June 6th, 2024Travel
I’m very excited to take you with me on the first part of my Southeast Asian adventure, Laos.  This adventure was filled with temples, caves, kayaking, saffron-clad monks and outstanding natural beauty. The Lao cuisine is fresh vibrant and healthy.

Here are some of the highlights of my culinary and travel adventures in Laos. This magical journey tantalized my taste buds and opened my heart and mind. The people of the region are very friendly and love talking about their favorite dishes, their culture and their history.

As Mark Twain says: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

As soon as I arrived in Luang Prabang I knew it was going to be a delicious adventure.  After 22+ hours on the plane, we were starving.  We headed over to Tamarind, a restaurant well known for it’s tasty and healthy traditional Lao food. They are all about promoting greater understanding of Laotian culture.  It’s a casual outdoor restaurant with a wide range of truly authentic dishes.

One of their best dishes was Laab aka larb or larp. It’s a type of minced meat or fish salad that is considered the “unofficial” national dish of Laos. There is a myth that the word laab means “luck” in Laotian. The meat or fish in larb may be raw or cooked. They only serve cooked to tourists.  Mint and other herbs feature strongly in the dish, and it’s seasoned with lime juice, fish sauce, and minced chile peppers. Here you can see 2 versions of Laab. The first one is part of a colorful tasting platter of Steamed Greens with Sesame Seeds and Green Papaya Salad.  The other one is a photo of Laab made with Mekong River fish from Lao Kitchen in Vientiene.  I had lots of Laab but these 2 were the best.

There was lots of great food in Laos. For breakfast, I enjoyed Rice Noodle Soup made with a rich stock flavored with herbs, lemongrass, fish sauce and chili and served with chicken and/or vegetables. Another great dish served all over Laos was Herbed Fish in Banana Leaf.  The fish is cooked in coconut milk seasoned with keffir lime, lemongrass, chili, fish sauce and herbs. It’s very creamy and delicious. In Cambodia, it’s called fish amok.


Luang Prabang is a fabulous town with 33 gilded wats, saffron-clad monks and outstanding natural beauty. It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1995   It sits at the junction of the Mekong River and Kam Khan (Khan River).  Here we watched the daily call to alms as locals give their daily offerings to the monks as the sun came up.

All Lao boys are expected to become novice monks for at least three months of their lives. Often they are as young as 8 years old.  For a child from a poor family, being a monk gives an opportunity to raise their economic and social status.


We left Luang Prabang to stay at the Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort to experience the sounds, sights, scents and experiences of a country Lao setting. It’s an intimate resort that subscribes to the highest principles of eco-tourism. The nearby Elephant Sanctuary picked us up by longtail boat for our one day experience as a mahout (a person who works with and tends an elephant).


Spending and day with the elephants was one of the most magical experiences of my life. The Elephant Village focuses on the protection and rehabilitation of elephants in Laos.  They rescue elephants from the logging industry and give them a brighter future playing with tourists.  They take very good care of the elephants.  They only spend 6 hours a day with tourists, the rest of the time they stay in the jungle.  They are completely howdah (elephant seat) free.  It is much more gentle for the elephants to have us ride directly on them.  It’s a comfortable life for them considering the reality of limited space for elephants.

The elephants are gentle and seem to enjoy interacting with us. I walked away after petting my elephant and she came over to me for more petting, so sweet!


We then traveled to Vang Vieng,  a small town on the Nam Song River. It’s surrounded by striking limestone mountains and caves. Stayed at the Mekong River View, a beautiful eco-resort, did lots of kayaking, hiking and exploring caves. Beautiful Lao family selling vegetables on the side of the road as we were hiking to the cave.

Next we spent a few days in Lao’s charming capital, Vientiane. It’s a combination of French architecture mixed in with many Buddhist temples including the golden, 16th-century Pha That Luang, which is the national symbol. The monks were very friendly and wanted to take photographs together. They told me they’re not allowed to be touched by any women so I am not getting to close.  Delicious food, a combination of French and Lao. Lots of French wine too! 

In Vientiane, our tuk-tuk driver took us to the largest food market in the capital. I LOVED seeing all the women vendors, beautiful colors, as well as the bustling, vibrant energy of bargaining and trading. People shop daily because there isn’t much refrigeration, everything is very fresh.

Well, that’s the end of Part 1 of my journey, adventures in Laos! Check back next week for part 2, adventures in Cambodia. I’m so glad you came on this journey with me. I hope you feel inspired from seeing and hearing about this magical place.

Have a great day and now I’m going to make my favorite dish from the trip, Fish Amok. I’ll revise it to a version we can all make at home.


  • Laos appears to be the perfect spot for mushroom loving vegetarians (who likes to throw in some seafood now and again) like myself! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing adventure! xo

    • Ingrid says:

      Hi Debra,
      Yes there was lots of great vegetarian food and many restaurants offered vegan options. As it’s a landlocked country it was all river fish, a little different than ocean fish, but quite delicious. It’s a beautiful country with friendly people. I think you would love it!

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