27 Laos Fruit Worth Jumping on a Plane For (2024)

There are so many delicious Laos fruit that are available abroad, but there is nothing like eating them where they grew.

Perhaps the most underrated country in Southeast Asia, Laos is often overlooked as a tourist destination and traditional Lao food is not well known.

A landlocked country, agriculture is crucial for locals and Laos has so many fantastic exotic fruits.

What makes these fruits truly special is their authentic taste, often untouched by industrial agricultural practices. Many are grown organically, reflecting Laos’ commitment to preserving traditional farming methods.

In rural villages, fruit cultivation plays a vital role in supporting both local communities and larger cities.

These villages often serve as the primary source of fresh produce for urban markets, driving economic growth in remote areas.

31 LAOS FRUIT YOU’LL LOVE

I eat local fruit daily and I like to talk to vendors in their language. So I made this list of Lao fruits before arriving in Vientiane.

21 DELICIOUS:
Exotic Fruits Around the World

The titles are my cheat sheet of Lao fruit in English, then Lao script, then how to pronounce it phonetically.

In Laos cities like Vientiane you’ll see English in most places and vendors know the words. But I think it’s respectful to try to learn their language.

1. Santol | ໝາກກະໂປ້ (mak ga poh)

Mak ga poh refers to santol, which has a sour and slightly sweet taste.

It has a thick, inedible rind and a juicy, tangy flesh cotton-like texture inside that surrounds its seeds. It is sometimes called cotton fruit in other areas of the world.

And although not related, it is often called wild mangosteen as the shape of the fruit is similar. It’s eaten the same way by sucking on the seeds or made into jams and candies.

Santol is believed to have originated in former Indochina and the Malay Peninsula.

2. Rambutan | ໜົວຫອຍ (mak ngaw)

Originally from South East Asia, rambutan has become one of the most popular fruits in Bali. It looks like a crazy spiky fruit on the outside. But it’s interior is very similar to a juicy lychee.

Vendors often sell these Laos fruit on branches. If you’ve never bought rambutan before the fruit do not continue to ripen after cut. So look for bright red fruit, not yellow. And the fruit should not look dry.

If the fruits are off the branch do not be shy about choosing the best fruit as some vendors try to toss unripe or old ones in a bag.

Locals are quick to point out fruit they do not want, it’s not rude.

3. Mangosteen | ມັງກອດ (mang koot)

Mangosteen, “mang koot,” is sweet and tangy. It often intimidates tourists as the leathery skin doesn’t seem quite inviting.

But simply put the fruit in clasped hands and squeeze the Lao fruit until the thick skin breaks. From there you can peel off the skin to reveal the fleshy quarters of delicious taste.

It’s originally an Indonesian fruit, specifically its origin is the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas.

4. Canistel | ໝາກກະນິສເຕັນ (mak kanis tan)

Canistel, or “mak kanis tan,” is often called the egg fruit for its egg-like texture. But it doesn’t taste like egg, instead more of a pumpkin pie or sweet potato flavor.

Some people also call it the butterscotch fruit, which sounds much better.

This tropical Lao fruit tastes sweet with a custard-like consistency and originated in Central America. It’s not easy to find elsewhere although you can find this fruit in Hawaii.

And it’s such a popular fruit in Peru it’s actually the national fruit of Peru.

5. Longan | ໜົວລາວ (ngoua lao)

Longan, or “ngoua lao,” tastes sweet and musky. This fruit is native to Southeast Asia and a common Cambodian fruit sold on the street.

Longan is often compared to lychee as you must pinch the skin to reach the fleshy fruit. But it’s slightly more sweet.

But similar to lychee you can cannot bite all the way through as there is a pit in the middle. Instead just suck the sweet flesh off.

6. Lychee | ໄລຈີ່ (ly chee)

Lychee may be the most popular Asian fruit. Or at least the first one many westerners have tried, especially when the lychee martini craze took over the co*cktail scene.

Pronounced “ly chee,” has a floral, sweet taste. It comes from Guangdong and Fujian provinces in China.

Many fruit come from the lychee family, including Jamaica’s national fruit, ackee.

7. Durian | ຖົ່ວລຽນ (thua lian)

Known as “thua lian,” durian is creamy and savory, with a strong odor. It’s indigenous to Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia but is also a widely popular fruit in Malaysia.

Throughout Asia durian is known as the king of fruits. It is also one of the most controversial as it has a pungent rotten cheese/stinky feet smell.

There are many signs outside public building saying you cannot bring it inside.

If you’ve tried this stinky fruit and don’t like it keep in mind there there are over 200 varieties of durian.

A good way to dip your toes in is durian ice cream, which has just a touch of funkiness in the creamy treat.

8. Jackfruit | ມັກມີ່ວນ (mak mee uan)

Jackfruit or “mak mee uan” tastes sweet and fruity when eaten raw.

But it’s also used in many savory dishes like jackfruit curries in India and Indonesia. And in North America it’s used canned as a pulled pork substitute.

Jackfruit originated in southwest India but is found throughout in South East Asia all the way to the Caribbean where it’s a popular fruit in Trinidad.

9. Passion Fruit | ໝາກໜອດ (mak nawt)

“Phat sa nyahn” is passion fruit, with a tart, aromatic flavor.

It’s a popular South American fruit known as maracuya. But Lao passion fruit are eaten differently. Locals will cut off the top, add a bit of sticky rice powder, pepper and fish sauce to mix it and eat with a spoon.

It’s a delicious contrast to the tart fruit,

10. Star Apple | ສະບາຍ (sa bai)

“Sa bai” refers to star apple, with its creamy, sweet pulp.

Not surprisingly it’s the size of an apple, but It is the size of an apple or orange but looks like a star when sliced. The flavour is most similar to a mangosteen.

This fruit is native to the West Indies but also found in Latin America. It’s a popular Costa Rican fruit known as caimito.

11. Star fruit | ໝາກຟ້າຍ (mak fai)

The other star fruit, known as mak fai. This Lao fruit has a crisp, tangy taste.

It is a very tart fruit, you may see it on fruit plate but it’s more commonly used in pastries, jams and desserts.

Star fruit is originally from from Southeast Asia, but like many tropical fruits you’ll also find it in Latin America. It’s a common Guatemalan fruit, often served as a fresh drink.

12. Sapodilla | ລາມຸດ (lamut)

Sapodilla, pronounced lamut offers a sweet and spicy flavor.

Sapodillas do not look the most appetizing. They often look like a brown potato with rough, brown skin.

But do not judge a fruit by its skin! It has a tart, malty flavor with a touch of sweet potato.

It’s fantastic raw, although keep an eye out for the seeds as one has a small hook on it that can get caught in the throat.

These Laos fruits are originally from Southern Mexico. It’s a popular fruit in Nicaragua, Central America and the Caribbean.

13. Guava | ສີດາ (sii daa)

Guava, with its distinctive sweet and tart flavor.

This Lao fruit’s skin is thin but inedible as it’s so bitter.

Thankfully inside the flesh is much sweeter and like a juicy pear. You can find guavas with both pink and white fruit flesh. They are often used in juices and preserves or desserts.

Guava originated in Central America, is a famous Cuban fruit, and also common in South East Asia.

14. Tamarind | ໝາກຂາມ (mak kham)

Tamarind, or “mak kham,” has a sour, tangy taste.

Although tamarind is indigenous to Africa, this Lao fruit is revered for its role in making many traditional dishes.

Its tangy pulp, extracted from the pod-like fruit, infuses traditional dishes with a distinctive flavor, balancing sourness with a hint of sweetness.

This Laos fruit’s versatility extends beyond cuisine. It features prominently in herbal remedies and refreshing beverages like nam mak may, a chilled tamarind drink.

Tamarind trees symbolize resilience, thriving in Laos’ tropical climate and providing shade in village courtyards.

15. Custard apple | ໜົວກັນຍາວ (ngoua kan yao)

Custard apple, pronounced “ngoua kan yao,” is creamy and sweet.

Its scientific name is annona reticulata and is part of the annona family, which includes many fruit that are similar looking but all slightly different like the sugar apple listed below.

Unlike other members of the family with green skin, custard apple has smooth brown to red skin on the fruit while growing on the tree.

It comes from the Andes of South America and is one of the most delicious Ecuadorian fruits, known as cherimoya. It’s also common throughout South East Asia and is a popular Filipino fruit known as atis.

16. Persimmon | ມັກຫຸ່ງຈີນ (mak hoong jin)

Persimmon, “mak hoong jin,” has a sweet, honey-like flavor when ripe.

These fruits in Laos are originally from China, but you can now find them everywhere including South America where they are known as caqui Chilean fruits.

17. Pomegranate | ໝາກທຸບ (mak thub)

Pomegranate is known for its juicy, tart seeds.

The fruit is native to Iran and Northern India. And while they are not native Laos fruits its sour flavor adapts well into traditional Lao food. It is perfect for making jeow, chili sauces and salads.

18. Sugar apple | ໜົວນົວ (ngoua nooa)

Sugar apple orngoua nooa, offers a sweet, custard-like taste. It is also known as sweetsop.

Its scientific name is annona squamosa and is often confused with custard apple because of its taste.

It’s believed to have originated in the Americas but is very common throughout South East Asia and is a common Thai fruit as well.

19. Snake fruit | ສະລາກອນ (salakon)

Pronounced salakon, snake fruit has a crunchy texture and a tangy taste.

It’s quite easy to eat when ripe as the scaly exterior is thin and brittle. But it reveals large delicious pods that taste like fruit co*cktail of banana, apple and strawberry.

Snakefruit comes from Indonesia and Malaysia and known as salak.

20. Soursop | ຊາວຊະບ (sao sab)

Sao sab refers to soursop, with its creamy texture and sour citrus flavor.

This fruit is native to the tropical Americas and a common Colombian fruit known as guanabana and known as the Brazilian fruit graviola.

21. Chomphu | ຈອມພູ (chom phoo)

Chomphu, or “chom phoo,” is similar to a water apple, crisp and refreshing.

This Lao fruit originated in Southeast Asia and is also known as Thai rose apple, Java apple and wax apple.

It is a distinct floral aroma, which is reminiscent of roses, hence the name “rose apple.”

It is often more rounded in shape and can be pale yellow or green.

22. Mulberry | ໜົວມໍ້ານາວ (ngoua mor nao)

Mulberry, pronounced “ngoua mor nao,” has a sweet, slightly tart flavor.

They are grown in the countryside of Laos and there has been a focus on helping local communities continue traditional farming by encouraging agritourism.

In Vang Vieng there is a famous organic farm with a number of mulberry products and local goat cheese.

Mulberries are native to warm regions of Asia and is a common Vietnamese fruit.

23. Jujube | ໝາກປຸ້ຍ (mak puin)

Mak puin is the jujube, a fruit that tastes like an apple when fresh and dates when dried.

It originated in China and is one of the oldest cultivated fruit trees in the world.

They are harvested twice a year and a common Lao snack. Locals eat unripe jujube fruit by dipping them into a chili, salt, sugar mix and chew them.

24. Langsat | ໝາກລ້ານຊາດ (mak laan saad)

Langsat or “mak laan saad” has a sweet and tangy flavor. It tastes like a tart grape, almost as if a bit of grapefruit was added.

This tropical fruit is native to Southeast Asia and sold in bunches on the street .

25. Pomelo | ສົ້ມໂອ (som-o)

The pomelo or “som-o” is the largest citrus fruit, with a sweet and mild flavor.

They are not the same as grapefruit. Some are the same size as a basketball and they are less tart than a grapefruit.

Pomelos are native to South and Southeast Asia.

26. Dragon Fruit | ພັນລົງ (pan long)

Pronounced “pan long,” dragon fruit has a mild, sweet taste. Unfortunately when exported that flavor often disappears and it’s just known as the pretty fruit on a plate that tastes like water.

But if you’re traveling Laos it’s absolutely worth trying.

No one is quite sure where dragon fruit is from, but many believe it’s likely from Central America or a Mexican fruit.

However, it’s common throughout South East Asia, in both the pink and yellow variety and sometimes called a strawberry pear.

27. Papaya | ຫມາກຫຸ່ງ (mak hoong)

Called “mak hoong,” papaya has a sweet, tropical flavor. It’s native to Mexico and Central America and is one of the most common fruits in Panama.

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27 Laos Fruit Worth Jumping on a Plane For (2024)
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