Vientiane, Laos



Along the River

Dozens of unpretentious restaurants and beer gardens in Vientiane can be found along the bank of the Mekong River, starting from opposite the BCEL Bank and stretching for approximately two kilometres upriver. Those located upstream from the main beach promenade are generally cheaper. All are pleasant places for a drink, snack or complete meal while watching the sun goes down over the river.

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Sunset along the riverfront by GuillaumeG

One of these is the one-time famous John's Restaurant but since the owner married an Australian and left for down under, there is nothing to distinguish it from the other places. Prices at the riverside restaurants are inexpensive for Westerners (but not really cheap for local Laos) with prices much like in Thailand. The area serves LaoThai and some Western dishes. Among the best is the grilled fish, served by many of the restaurants. Take care when you're in for boiled eggs - what you get here are incubated duck eggs. When you open them you're in for a surprise i.e. duck embryos but at least the little birds do not chirp! The Lao love them and very popular.

Some of the eateries put Lao-style reed mats on the ground with low rattan tables known as "ka toke" - diners sit cross-legged on the mat around the table. These eateries have became so popular that they can now be found at many riverside establishments. They are much nicer than the rickety metal tables and plastic chairs that are the standard of all but the better restaurants in Laos. The riverside restaurants have been known to use two menus i.e. a cheaper one for locals and an expensive one for foreigners.

There are a few Indian restaurants along the riverside. One of them is Nazim Indian Restaurant serving decent Indian food. Nazim has another branch in Thanon Pang Kham, opposite the Lao Airlines office. Another Indian restaurant is Fathima. Though it claims to also serve Malaysian food, there is nothing Malaysian here. The quality of the food here is at most "can do" and a bit pricey. Another near the riverside is Noor, a couple of blocks away from Nazim. Noor is clearly the better option in terms of food quality and taste - good value for money. 

Fathima Restaurant by calflier001

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