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.
We were in LP last April. Had wonderful time (what lovely people!). About the main drag - practically every restaurant has the same menu, but frankly, the whole place is so atmospheric, you (almost) forget about what you're eating. Nazim WAS wonderful - we ate at both branches...bring on the garlic! We especially loved the river branch - such nice people and we looked on a game of petanque played by some local young couples! Apsara was our one *splurge* meal ($30 for three of us). We were staying at the 3 Nagas, so we didn't bother to eat dinner there, but had our breakfasts there, which I thought had an obscene amount of (Western) food. The high-end places looked lovely for a drink, but we chose to try out the Hive Bar, which was great fun, but as another poster wrote, eveything shuts down as advertised (bottoms up!). My advice to you - roam around, it's not difficult to. I would go back to LP in a minute, not necessarily for the food, but for the gentle people making/serving the food and for the wonderful atmosphere, which I hope is intact. Happy and safe travels!
Have to agree about Tamarind... a really great place to try the food in Luang Prabang. It's opposite the temple Wat Nong, and the owners take great care in the presentation and explanation of the foods you can sample. Something unusual and though they don't open at night on a regular basis, they do have great Friday night feasts which anyone can join. Best drinks in town too!
Sorry if this is too late to help, but we just got back from a trip to Luang Prabang and Bangkok.
The best meal we had in LP was definitely at the Apsara, sort of an upscale interpretation of Lao food. We started with some great Lao-style buffalo sausage, followed by a beautiful whole fish in tamarind sauce. There were some really nice dessert choices, too.
Another good meal was at the restaurant run by, and across the street from, the 3 Nagas Inn, on the main drag.
Finally, we had a great lunch at Tamarind, across from Wat Nong. Not open for dinner except by prior arrangement. This place (run by farang) takes great pains to educate diners about Lao food and traditions, and serves beautiful food in a very nice setting.
In Luang Prabang, Somchan Restaurant is one of several on the Mekong that offers river moss (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingintranslation/305004477/in/set-72157594450321013/) as well as a good rendition of fish larb (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingintranslation/305004565/in/set-72157594389852976/). 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...).
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.
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?