This was my first trip to Laos.  When travelling to a new country, I try to get a feel for the local culture in addition to seeing some of the major tourist attractions.  A good way to do that is trying the local food, music, and dance.  Through my hotel in Luang Prabang, Villa Nagara, I killed three birds with one stone by arranging a  dinner with a show at a local restaurant.

Other posts about the trip that circled the globe:

Asiana Airlines A380 First Class – New York (JFK) to Seoul/Incheon (ICN)

Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul/Incheon (ICN)

Singapore Airlines 777-300 First Class – Seoul/Incheon (ICN) to Singapore (SIN)

Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge (SIN) – The Private Room

Singapore Airlines 787-10 Business Class – Singapore (SIN) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)

Bangkok Airways ATR 72 Economy Class between Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) and Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ)

Luang Prabang City Tour

Bicycle Tour To Tad Sae Falls, Laos

Hotel Review – Villa Nagara, Luang Prabang, Laos

Hotel Review – Marriott Executive Apartments, Bangkok, Thailand

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class – Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) to Doha, Qatar (DOH)

Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge Doha, Qatar (DOH)

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class (Q Suites) – Doha, Qatar to New York, NY (JFK)

The restaurant was only a couple of blocks away from my hotel, and within easy walking distance.  The booking included transportation to but not from the restaurant in a van.  In Old Town Luang Prabang everything is within comfortable walking distance.

Arrival at Sonphao Restaurant.

Dinner and show seating is on the second floor of the restaurant.

Getting to the second floor requires climbing a set of steep stairs.  A polished dark hardwood is used in many of the floors and stairs in Luang Prabang.

The upper level has an intimate seating area of about ten tables with a small, slightly raised stage at the front and open windows on the left side.  My booking came with a set menu.

Lao Dinner

The menu identifies all of the dishes. Very helpful.

Dinner began with rice and a soup popular with the Hmong.  The Hmong originated in Southern China and have migrated throughout Southeast Asia.

A simple Hmong soup and purple sticky rice in a bamboo container.  Sticky rice is easy to eat with chopsticks.

The main course is a platter with small portions of a variety of meats and vegetables.

Each item, minced chicken, vegetable spring rolls, bean and mushroom stir fry, bamboo and bean vermicelli noodles, and pork stuffed lemongrass stalks, is identified in the photo above.


Dessert was a kind of sweet rice or bread pudding.

I agree with the menu.  Lao cuisine is simple, wholesome and natural.  The soup, spring rolls and dessert were delicious.  The minced chicken was also pretty good.  I  need to develop a taste for the other items.

Lao Culture Show

Every culture has its own food, music and dance.  Food, of course, is a physiological requirement to sustain human life.  To satisfy psychological needs, music and dance must be just as necessary for humans as eating and breathing.  Every culture develops and enjoys music and dance.  Our brains seem to require it.

The show started while the staff cleared the entrée.  There were five dance performances accompanied by live music performed with traditional Lao instruments.

Lao lanats, xylophone type instruments, in front row.   A drum and a khim, a stringed musical instrument, in the back row.  Similar instruments are common in Southeast Asia and in many cultures across the globe.



Lao Pane Dance
Phao Hmong Dance
Monkey Dance
Dok Champa Dance
Nang Keo Dance
After the performance, cast members pose with guests.  This is my photo with the lady with the a “Mona Lisa smile.”

The female dancers were very graceful with slow, precise movements of the arms, legs, and hands.  The Monkey Dance was much more animated in keeping with the mischievous nature of the monkey.

In sum, Sonphao Restaurant is a great place for a Lao meal and a brief but enjoyable  cultural experience.