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Mai Chau -- Dinner in Mai Chau (or "Your Chow," as my punny travel companion pointed out) is offered at just a few small local storefront restaurants. Ask at the front desk of the Mai Chau Guesthouse for a recommendation, and be armed with a few phrases on food like com trung (fried egg with rice), rau xau (mixed vegetables), or pho bo (noodle soup with beef). A few Internet outposts are in the town, but service is very slow.

Son La -- At Duong Truong Chinh Road, near the intersection of To Hieu Street and on the corner where Route 6 enters the town of Son La, you'll find a number of small storefront eateries, most of which are cafeteria style, where you can put together a meal by pointing to what appeals to you, usually a choice of boiled eggs, vegetables, pork in broth, fried fish, or tofu fried in lemon grass, all accompanied with rice. These same shops can cook to order the likes of fried noodles or omelets upon request, but suffice it to say that dining in little Son La is far from gourmet; think of it more as a place to just fill your tummy before heading off on the road the next day. Your best bet for being understood and getting a reasonable meal is at the hotel of your choice. Resist the temptation to try the goat meat, called thit da, at the hilltop restaurant that some folks might point you to. The meat is gamy, and the experience appeals only to folks looking to cross off items on the "strange food I once ate" list.

Dien Bien Phu -- There are no dining venues geared to tourists in Dien Bien Phu; you're left to your own devices among the town's rice and noodle shops. But assuming you've come this far over land, you'll be an expert with the basics in local cuisine. The best shops are near the main intersection in town. The Dien Bien Phu Hanoi Hotel serves good one-dish meals at their cozy little coffee shop on the first floor, and the Muong Thanh Hotel has a basic in-house restaurant.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.