Siem Reap & Luang Prabang recommendations?
We are heading to Siem Reap and Luang Prabang for the first time. The only recommendations we have so far are the ones from Lonely Planet, which I am told is not up to date.
Any recommendations for Siem Reap and Luang Prabang?
We are looking for the best local flavor, whether it be a fancy high end resto or a hole in the wall.
Also, it will be great if you can throw in a good recommendation for a bar/lounge/club.
Thanks in advance.
Search these boards for older reviews--there's a lot of stuff.
From everything I've read, the night market in Luang Prabang has grown exponentially, and has great eats. That's one of the first places I intend to hit when I'm there in mid-February. Another place in LP that looks interesting and that I intend to try is called Tamarind, which is upscale but trying to focus on educating about Lao food, and does various tasting menus. They have a website but I don't know the URL. When are you going?
In Luang Prabang:
The night market does great food. One of my favorite foods is the dried seaweed (actually river moss) with buffalo skin chili paste. There are several restaurants right on the river near the ferry dock. All do more than acceptable Lao food which is pretty good since they know their clientele is all foreigners. The same can't be said for many of the restaurants on Thanon Sisavangvong. This is an endless row of restaurants just north of the "shopping street" and they're always packed. They're always packed. They're great for people watching, but in most of them, the food is fairly ordinary.
The only restaurant I'd recommend on Thanon Sisavangvong is Nazim. It's an Indian restaurant with several branches in Laos. It's the best Indian food in Laos (there are many others) if you're looking for something different.
Further up on Thanon Sisavangvong are two great restaurants. I can't remember their names but they're easy to find. walking north on the right hand side of the street (the same side as Wat Phoussy on the hill), cross the first street after the endless row of restaurants. Thanon Sisavangvong becomes Thanon Sakka__ (probably no sign). go past a couple of souveneir stores, a travel agent or two and an internet cafe. The first restaurant you come to is it. It's a very nice place with a couple of tables on the patio, several more inside and a 2nd floor with some more tables on the balcony. Very traditional Lao food, very professional service. just a bit more expensive than the more popular restaurants you walked past to get there, but well worth it.
Continuing north on the same street, the next restaurant you come to on the right side is also excellent. It's a little more formal. You'll recognize it by the nice bar when you walk in the door. Also traditional Lao food, but with some dishes you won't find in most other places, like wild boar and venison. Definitely more expensive with entrees priced at $10-$14.
Another upscale restaurant is Braserie L'Elephant across from Wat Nong, closer to the river, in the same area. it has a Lao-French menu with similar prices to the last one. it's very popular with foreign residents and well informed visitors so you may need a reservation a day or two in advance.
Across town, the Mano Guest House on Th Pha Mahapatsaman does great steaks. It's also a great place to stay (very clean $10 rooms with a/c and cable tv), but there's not much else on their menu to recommend.
As for bars, most of Luang Prabang is closed well before midnight. The Hive Bar on Th Kingkitsarat is the most happening place in town. All the young westerners will be there as well as the few yuppy Lao.
Just returned from Siem Reap and my favorite restaurants were:
The Red Piano
The Soup Dragon (good Vietnamese food)
The one dinner that was recommened in LP and other travel guides that I didn't enjoy was Taj Mahal.
In Luang Prabang, Somchan Restaurant is one of several on the Mekong that offers river moss (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingin...) as well as a good rendition of fish larb (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingin...). Since the most recent edition of Lonely Planet, Malee Lao Food (dinner only) has changed its menu, the spelling of its name, and apparently its location; it's a little north of the spot indicated by LP, on Manomai Rd. Do-it-yourself fish "BBQ" was enjoyable. And yes, there's lots to choose from in the night market, though many items aren't meant to be eaten on the go, and one stretch of vendors doesn't offer any seating.
In Siem Reap, behind the Central Market, you'll find a short street of outdoor food vendors. For fresh jackfruit, I made a couple of visits to the husband-and-wife team on the corner (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingin...).