Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review: Coconut Garden, Luang Prabang, Laos

Arriving in Luang Prabang felt almost unreal, it was far quainter than I had imagined and just stunning.  The centre of the town is very much aimed at tourists and has been well maintained since the French were settled there.  The buildings are gorgeous, the lighting romantic, the market is ordered and beautifully displayed, the temples gleam, the river and mountains provide a postcard backdrop and there is just an overwhelming feeling of calm and serenity.

I was actually taken aback by just how many tourists were in Luang Prabang, and it was a different type of tourism to that we expected – not just backpackers but families and older couples on luxury holiday’s.  As a result the costs are higher here than expected and than in other places in Laos but it is still a very cheap place to be and there are many activities that you can do from Luang Prabang that don’t have to be the expensive ones!

After finding a hostel we walked out down the main street (Sisavangvong road) in search of food.  We went for Coconut Garden as it had been recommended and was close by.  The restaurant seemed a bit fancy to us and I felt like it was a huge treat to be there but this came to define most of our dining experiences in Luang Prabang!  There is the chance to dine incredibly well and at places we could not afford to usually on our travels, every day!!  We ended up spending much longer than intended in Luang Prabang and this was partly because we were enjoying the food so much and there were so many places to try out!  It is also very difficult not to get drawn into the tranquil pace of life here and fall in love with the town, its surroundings and the people.


Whilst eating at Coconut Garden we tried our first laap salad which was a totally new taste experience for me and set a high expectation for the rest of the dishes to try in Laos!  The flavours were intense and cleverly put together.  The dish is incredibly simple really but somehow tasted complex.  We also tasted our first sticky rice in Laos – the first of many baskets and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The other dish we enjoyed was lemongrass marinated chicken which was very tasty.  This was a fantastic introduction to the culinary capital of Laos.


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