The best way to round off a meal or fill your stomach on a long bus ride is with fresh fruit. There are many fruits you can buy everywhere on fruit trays, as for the weight, and have been cleaned and stacked containers. The presence or absence of one or other fruits may depend on the seasonality of maturation. The range is wide: pineapples, oranges, mangoes, bananas, melons, watermelons, dragon eye, tangerine, durian, mangosteen, pomelo, papaya.
Moreover, some kinds of fruits in Laos are also imported from China and other Asian countries, such as risp green guavas; burgundy lychees, with tart, wild-haired, red rambutans, dark purple mangosteen, tough-skinned treasures with a velvety smooth inside divided into succulent sweet segments; bell-shaped green rose apples, etc.
Desserts don’t really figure on many restaurant menus, although some tourist restaurants will usually have a few featuring coconut milk or cream, notably banana in coconut milk (nâm wãn màk kûay). Markets often have a food stall specializing in inexpensive coconut-milk desserts, generally called nâm wãn. Look for a stall displaying a dozen bowls, containing everything from water chestnuts to corn to fluorescent green and pink jellies, from which one or two items are selected and then added to a sweet mixture of crushed ice, slabs of young coconut meat and coconut milk.
Also popular are light Chinese doughnuts, fried in a skillet full of oil and known as khào nõm khu or pá thawng ko, and another fried delight, crispy bananas (kûay khaek).
Vientiane and Luang Prabang are the country’s culinary centres, boasting excellent Lao food and international cuisine. Towns with a well-developed tourist infrastructure will usually have a number of restaurants serving a mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese and Western dishes, usually of varying standards, but once you’re off the well-beaten tourist trail it can be hard to find much variety beyond fried rice and noodle soup.