Vientiane is, without doubt, the smallest capital city I have ever been in. The centre is packed with nice places to eat and drink with many options for both the budget traveller and holiday-goers with a little more to spend. The city has some of the best western food I have had in Asia, probably better than much of the Asian food in some cases., including the best burger in all of Asia (Ray’s Grille, see below). The city is not cheap. I was actually surprised how expensive everything there was in comparison to both Thailand and Vietnam. Coffee is twice as expensive and the cheapest meals, even though they will only set you back a couple of dollars, are once again up to two times more expensive than the surrounding SE Asian countries.
I will also add notes and a section about the internet connection and speeds in each place (seeing as I rely so heavily on a good wifi connection these days!). The fastest internet download speeds you are likely to find in Laos are around 4Mbps. download and 4Mbps. upload but that is RARE! With the possible exception of Myanmar, Laos has the slowest speeds in all of SE Asia by far. Upload speeds are usually faster than download speeds, which I found strange. If you find somewhere with download speeds of over 1Mbps. then you are doing well. But most places offer free wifi.
This year in total, I spent over a month and a half in Vientiane. I have eaten in so many places and drank endless cups of coffee whilst sitting with my computer doing something or other. So I decided that I would pass on my knowledge to anyone looking to go there and make a list of the best food and drink/coffee places in the city, which is as follows:
Eating And Drinking In Vientiane, Laos
(in no particular order)
Coffee Shops and Cafes
Good quality coffee, run by a very nice Chinese girl. Quirky decor with a nice, friendly atmosphere. This place offers soy options, and if you’re a fan of drip coffee, then this is your place. Average price is around 18,000 kip for their coffees. They also sell pastries such as croissants. They have a 4G wifi connection here and it seems to work fairly consistently.
The coffee here is a reasonably priced for Vientiane (16,000 kip average), and has the most amazing banana bread (10,000 kip, which is cheaper than most places). Lots of other bread options, and they baked different loaves every day of the week and have a ‘yesterday’s bread’ bin where you can buy the previous day’s bread for cheap (a whole bag of bread, approx 5 assorted buns, for 18,000 kip). The internet here is probably the most consistently good internet in Vientiane. Download speeds can reach up to 2.5Mbps. or thereabouts. Upload speeds are often faster than the download speeds here. Occasional breaks in internet connection.
One of my favourite coffee shops, light, airy and spacious with cool see-through glasses, good smoothies and decent food. They sell salads for around 29,000 kip and burgers and a signature Aussie Burger for around 38,000 kip. The internet here has very fast (for Laos) internet download speeds, although the upload speeds are pretty damn slow. Average price is probably similar to Comma at around 18,000 kip.
This store is a chain. The coffee is nice, but not that cheap averaging around 20,000 kip. this place offers the fastest internet that I found in Vientiane… WHEN IT WORKS. WHICH IS HARDLY EVER! Most frustrating internet in Vientiane. Teases you. Plays some kind of mind game. Don’t go here if you need to do any kind of downloading of large files as you may end up smashing the place up. Potentially good though if they sort out the breaks in connection.
This place offers cheap coffee (under 15,000 kip) but go here for the cheap food if on a budget. The ginger fried rice for 15,000 kip is particularly good. They also offer various other noodles and rice dishes for 15,000. You can also get a Lao sandwich (baguette) for 10,000 kip. The internet here works ok. Probably around 1Mbps. when it is at its best.
Similar to Mixok in price for both coffee and food. They have a greater variety of food dishes at an 18,000 kip average. The coffee here is very cheap. Internet seems to work ok.
This place offers very nice chicken or lamb kebabs for 27,000. Shepherd’s pie is also on offer as well as many pastries and other options. On the whole a little bit pricey, but won’t break the bank. The internet connection here works ok most of the time, but has average speeds.
They serve decent food here, good noodles, and a great Pad Thai for 20,000 kip. Internet connection on the other hand is pretty damn slooooow.
Without doubt the best burgers in all of Asia. The owner, a super friendly guy who likes to interact with his customers, is from the US and imports all of his ingredients from Thailand and Australia. It goes without saying that this place is a must try if you are a burger fan. Prices range from 44,000 – 58,000 kip approx. This is fairly expensive for Asia, but the burgers are so good that I went back multiple times. There is also a new milkshake machine here which should hopefully be working now to provide some top quality, delicious ice cream milkshakes!
Another ‘gourmet burger’ joint in Vientiane. The prices here are more expensive than Ray’s and the burgers are nice, but after tasting Ray’s burgers my friend and I both came to the conclusion that it is overpriced and not as good as Ray’s. Prices range from 55,000 – 150,000 kip approx. Lunchtime may be the best time to go here as they do lunch deals for 55,000 kip which includes a burger, fries, drink and a chocolate brownie. They also have pulled pork here which is very tasty. Wifi available.
The food here is very good quality and is usually populated by tourists. Probably due to the fact that it isn’t cheap. Wifi available.
The best pizza that I have had in a while. Wood fired oven. On the downside, it is not cheap (60,000 kip upwards) and the service is awful as it gets very busy. Wifi available.
Aside from the fact that you can go swimming here in the outdoor swimming pool (15,000kip entry if swimming), you can also grab some cheap, great food. My personal favourite was the noodles with sea food (lots of tentacles!) for 15,000 kip. For the western food options you can get fried chicken for 10,000 kip and some of the nicest chips/french fries I have had in a while for 10,000 kip. A glass of Coke will set you back 5,000 kip. Good overall. Wifi available.
China Soup Restaurant (on Khun Bu Lom, near Niyno Minimart)
Chinese style noodles with meat, vegetable and gravy for around 15,000 – 20,000 kip average. Nice but not good if you’re not into gloopy soupy noodles!
Very pricey, but decent western food. I had a roast dinner here which was around 40,000 kip. They also have a dessert table offering cakes and crumbles, etc. Wifi connection seemed to be fairly decent.
If you have a sweet tooth then this is the place for you. Very newly opened, they offer ice creams, waffles and all kinds of sweet smoothies, shakes, etc. Weird choice of workers’ uniforms though – French maids. Wifi available.
Delicious ice cream/yogurt filled mochi sweets for 8,000 kip each. Milkshakes using home made ice cream for 20,000+ kip.
Street coconut filled banana lady (stood on Rue Hengboun, nearish to Lao Kitchen, opposite side of the road. She is on wheels though so may move!)
There is a lady with a cart on Rue Hengboun that sells grilled bananas filled with shredded coconut pieces covered in honey for the bargain price of 2,000 kip each. They are amazing; go there every day!
This place offers a large range of fruit smoothies, starting at 10,000 kip. Wifi available.
Restaurant on Rue Samsenthai
There are a couple of restaurants on this street. If you head east towards Ave Lane Xang, past Rue Pangkham then on your right will be some restaurants with boards outside with menu items written in felt tip pen. There are cheap banana smoothies for 6,000 kip if you want budget, and food prices are similarly low with 15,000 kip options.
Last but not least…
The Night Market
On Rue Phai Nam, there is a market every night that offers lots of meat on sticks and various other treats. A large piece of chicken on a stick is 18,000 kip and half a duck is 18,000 kip. Both of these chicken and duck options are succulent, juicy and full of flavour! You can get 9 fresh spring rolls for 10,000 kip (bargain!). Lots of other meat, sausages, etc. all for reasonable prices. Cheaper than restaurants where you will pay at least double for meat on a stick. Can’t beat it really!
Now go stuff your faces!
Best Internet Places in Vientiane
From my personal experience, the Scandinavian Bakery has the most consistent wifi connection in Vientiane. That’s for both upload and download speeds. Naked Espresso has very fast internet download speeds, although the upload speeds are very slow. True coffee is extremely fast but doesn’t work very often. Comma Coffee has decent enough speeds and is fairly consistent. I spent most of my time in Scandinavian Bakery when I needed to download and upload files. That was my number one spot.