I understand that LP is considerably pricier than the rest of Laos. I'd like to ask previous travelers about this. What about prices in restaurants, tuk tuks, tours and such? Does LP feel like a ghetto for older, well-heeled tourists? I'm going in late Nov - how crowded will it be then? Thank you much in advance for all answers.
#1 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
"Does LP feel like a ghetto for older, well-heeled tourists?"
This is very curious phraseology. Do you know what the word "ghetto" means? Yes, LP is certainly more expensive than the rest of Lao. There are tourists of all ages and financial means there.
We were quite surprised by the prices in LP. But I'm not sure whether the apparently higher prices are just due to the fact that there are lots of nice restaurants and bars there which are hard to resist! I'm sure there are cheaper places around if you hunt for them. That said, it is still definitely more expensive than elsewhere in the country.
As an indication, we paid:
* 100,000 kip for a nice enough, but nothing special, room in a centrally located guesthouse
* 50,000 kip for a light breakfast for 2
* 40,000 kip each for a shared tuk tuk to the waterfall (name escapes me but it's about 45 mins away)
* 20,000kip for a bottle of beer
Definitely a mix of people there though yes, more older, well-heeled tourists than elsewhere in Laos.
From Wiki, "A ghetto is now described as a "portion of a city in which members of a minority group live"
I'd say yes it is because it's a ghetto. It's possible to go to Luang Prabang and make very few changes in the way one is used to doing things if one especially stays within the confines of the ghetto. Pay for meals with credit cards, English speakers everywhere, English language menus, and with this convenience came foreign prices. It is very difficult to get a normal fare tuk tuk on the peninsula, or a room anywhere in town.
That said I've found food to be priced normaly at local stands, and tuk tuks as normal if I walk away from the postcard carrying crowds a little ways. I read recently on a blog of someone bartering a $90 room down to $14. If Luang Prabang is getting hit hard by the unrest in Thailand combined with the economic slump worldwide there might be bargains to be had. Normaly I never negotiate price in Laos, anyone charging more than $10 a room is fair game in my estimation.
Hmmm. "Ghetto". Loaded word, isn't it? Nonetheless, Luang Prabang is quite definitely on the tourist (and tour) hit list. Prices are higher than elsewhere in Lao because of that. Sure.....older tourists (define older, Daawgon :) but I've seen many a tuk tuk unloading groups of 20-something backpackers on Sisavangvong. And saw plenty of them all about town and environs.
Travellingsarah's prices above are pretty consistent with what we saw in March, '09. You can spend a little on accommodations, or a small fortune. Same with food. Though, food stands around town, including the older (heritage site) part, are quite good and dirt cheap. So to speak.
On the street going west toward the Mekong, just to the north of the Post Office, there are numbers of local-oriented food stalls. Further down, closer to the Mekong, another street leads off the one just mentioned (parallelling the river) that is quite filled with a market with food and everything else needed to fit out a household in LP.
Poor Luang Prabang, though. It takes a beating in so many ways. The heritage site designation has helped save the physical component of the historical LP. The social ... as in society, I mean ... part is, however, taking a beating from the flood of farang (yes, like me) who come there now. It's still beautiful. Much authenticity is still to be found there. It is possible to avoid the madding crowd. Oh, and November likely to be fairly busy, I should think.
100,000 gets you an average room in one of the central guesthouse ghettos, up to 120,000 kip for one with air-con and TV.
There are a couple exceptions, but guesthouses on the streets along the river charge at least $30 USD. Higher if you actually have a river view from your room.
At the cafes LP is known for a cup of coffee is about 10,000 kip (14,000 kip at JoMa for a large cup with free refills) and pastries 15,000 kip and up.
A "Lao set lunch" at one of the tourist restaurants runs from 50,000 - 100,000 kip per person, and 80,000+ for a French set meal. The pizzas are a pretty good deal and you pay 50,000 kip for a pizza big enough to share and often get a free Beer Lao with it. I found myself eating lunch at JoMa quite regularly as they have a set lunch with lasagna or pizza plus a side salad for 30,000 kip or so - a great deal and free WiFi. ;)
The riverside cafes charge about 20,000 kip for the simplest of fried noodle/rice dishes and more for curries, BBQ meat, etc. A big beer Lao costs around 15,000 - 20,000 kip here and fruit shakes 5,000 - 10,000 kip.
The central market is where you go for cheap food - ladies sell baguette sandwiches (10,000 kip), fruit shakes (5,000) and there's a noodle soup restaurant with kow soy and pho-like noodle soup for 10,000 kip. At night the vegetarian buffet is 8,000 kip.
If you have 3 or 4 people then you can arrange your own boat tours/tuk-tuk to Kwang Si waterfall for a reasonable price, but couples or solo travelers are better off booking transport through their guesthouse so they can join a group. Booking through a tour company/guesthouse, a half-day tour will be 60,000 kip or so per person.
I'm glad to see that the town has all price levels. I think I was scared by all the high priced hotels and posh guesthouses that I've seen advertised. Actually, I think these prices are really in line with what's now being charged for better accommodation and meals in Hanoi, and I'm quite used to those. By older, I mean over 50 (I'm going to be 67 when I travel to Laos, and pretty darn poor by Western standards.) I reserved a nice guesthouse for $21. - the Manichan, anyone been there? It's run by a Belgian.
#7 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
Yup, I know Manichan Guesthouse.
$21 is including breakfast right? I know their walk-in rate is lower, but they say it's because it doesn't include breakfast. Otherwise, it's a nice clean house, friendly people, central location between the Market Street and the River.
Have a great time and consider the new Travelfish Luang Prabang iPhone travel guide ;) http://www.travelfish.org/iphone.php
Somsai, please don't use Wiki as a source; any idiot can post anything on Wiki.
A dictionary definition of ghetto:
1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.
2.(formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.
3.a section predominantly inhabited by Jews.
4.any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.
idreamofdurain, not everyone has an i phone. Some of us don't need the latest yuppie toy.
"3.a section predominantly inhabited by Jews."
Using this definition, West Newon Hill would be defined as a ghetto. A ghetto I wanted to live in when I was younger. Funny.
#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
This senior is a little too poor for a cell phone. I switched back to a land line when I bought a computer and hooked up the dialup connection.
#11 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
I was recently in Luang Prabang and my impression of it (and this is just my view) was that Luang Prabang is a bit of a tourist trap. It has been affected quite heavily by tourism and is certainly marketed in that way, prices included. I guess this is fare enough but with this comes the loss of charm and enticement for the traveller, well for me at least. Generally the kind of people you find there are holiday tourist, some old some young & the Gap year backpacker on the general of S.E Asia circuit, probably coming from or on there way to Vang Vieng to do the drunken tubing thing (no disrespect if that’s your thing).
Yes the pricing does seem ridiculously high for a country like Laos. Accommodation is the highest I saw in Laos, even for cheap accommodation although it can be haggled down, foods not too bad, maybe there are just a lot more high class restaurants. But certainly the prices for attractions are higher, for example, temples (and they weren’t that impressive) were 20’000 Kip compared to 5’000 in Vientiane (Foreigners special prices) and less in other places, not great value for money in my opinion. Luang Prabang is certainly living off its World Heritage Status. Be careful with Tuk Tuks as everywhere else in Asia they will try to over price everything which seems to be the norm nowadays in many countries, don’t pay the first price and avoid the ones advertising trips to the waterfalls or caves. You should be able to get a share taxi for 40’000 Kip at the most, try and negotiate if there are a few of you. Also travel agents have deals for things like this. Unfortunately things like the boats are over priced for foreigners, try and find out the local price and negotiate, remember you can always protest with your feet and walk away
Overall, Luang Prabang is reasobably nice for a few days but a bit limited. Comparing pricing to the rest of Laos it is higher but Laos is a bit irregular on pricing depending where you are. It’s certainly not the bargain it was and getting to be one of the more expensive countries for travellers in the region. But at the end of the day, I guess it’s still cheap compared to back home and may be the perfect place for some people.
#13 Mister_Matt has been a member since 2/5/2010. Posts: 1
still quite a few under 100,000kip options in the Ban Wat That & Ban Ho Xieng area.
as mentioned above, go local = lower costs.
stuff i managed to get Australians & a Belgian to try in LPB with no adverse effects:
1000K/piece - pathongko (fried dough fritters)
2000K & up - sticky rice (to go with grilled meat/fish)
2-3000K/little bag - dessert in coconut milk (e.g. lod chong, red beans, sweet corn, red ruby, grass jelly, etc)
3-5000K - khao lam (sticky rice steamed in bamboo)
5000K/6 pieces - small springrolls with dipping sauce
5000K/6 pieces - khanom krok (coconut pudding-like snack)
5-20,000K - grilled pork/chicken/fish/etc (depends on size)
5-10,000K - khao piak muu (pork porridge) (5000K - street stall, 10,000K - restaurant for locals)
7-12,000K - foe
10,000K - fried rice
10-15,000K - baguette (15,000kip size lasts me 2 meals; free bananas if the lady sellers like you :P)
the khanom krok went down well with Romanians too. if more adventurous there's khai luuk (balut) for 2000K/egg. many other cheap options (stews, curries, stirfried items) from the 'night food alley' near Ancient LPB Hotel. there's still Beer Lao for 10,000K or less per bottle, but of course not in those places that hafta recoup cost of high rental/aircon/staff salaries/nice furnishings & decor. 50,000kip = my maximum daily food budget (no alcohol), for the Australians it was their maximum daily Beer Lao budget (2-3 bottles per meal for lunch & dinner) cos they wanted to limit their drinking :P
shot up from what used to be 5-10,000K/entry, & no idea where the $ goes to. but still it's only a few temples & one hill that you have to pay to enter/climb up - out of 30+ temples in central LPB...IMHO Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai & Wat Visoun are worth it. plenty of other temples to admire for free. Phou Si hill is where tourists flock to roost at dusk :P
tend to demand 10,000K/person from bus stations into town, & 20,000K/person for the other way round.
anyway, just bear in mind that all sorts of stuff - fuel, ceramic toilet bowls, spring mattresses, ingredients for Western food, machines for processing credit card payments, etc - have to be imported, & at a cost.
late Nov = more crowded, but most tend to stick to the same few places covered by guidebooks. think you can get some ideas from hobomaps, or if you have specific interests no harm mentioning them. btw ~21 Nov will be Boun That Luang in Vientiane & Boun That Xieng Tung in Muang Sing (if you're in Laos by then).
Come on now Rufus, it's a guide, it's supposed to channel people towards certain places and things, esepecially within the tourist ghetto, (love that expression now). If you only have a short week to go to Luang Prabang and need to exchange reminisses over coctails you have to have gone to the Tamarind, seen a sunset from Phou Si, Wat Whatever, and Kuang Si falls.
I took a look at the regular Tfish write up right here and they correctly note the rising prices and rising age and pedestrianess of visitors. There's even the use of the phrase saffron-robed monksgotta love it.
Somsai: The phrase "tourist ghetto" does appear to have legs. It's also shown up being applied (not inappropriately) to the central part of Siem Riep (Pub Street, et al).
I guess I didn't really "see" LP last time, as I totally missed Tamarind. I did see Saffron-Robed Monks, though? Does that count? :D
I've never eaten at Tamarind but the cooking class is very popular and the restaurant gets consistently good reviews. As somsai said, for more of the older, well-heeled travelers who visit LP it's exactly the kind of place they're looking for.
"I guess I didn't really "see" LP last time, as I totally missed Tamarind"
My wife, Lao, hates it. We ate there once and she said never again. "I cook Lao food, this is falang food". As I said, its geared to tourists who want to "experience Lao", or so they think.
erm...not spent much time in Laos (not sure what gave that impression?)
a few holidays, that's all.
only been to the north, & then not all provinces there.
somsai, Captn Bob, agarlao, Rufus, etc are the ones who've spent a lot more time in Laos. much to learn from them.
don't work for any NGO. but yes am singkarpor-lang. laomeow at gmail :)
as for Tamarind, what brought my attention to this restaurant were blog entries by foodies describing their Adventurous Lao Gourmet menu, e.g.:
seems like they do have options for 'beginners' & 'advanced' level for 'intro to (northern) Lao food'?
I just arrived in LP yesterday. I found a clean, basic room on the road by the Mekong for 80,000 kip -- clean, fan, large room, no view, free internet (cable, no wifi and slooow). Will look around today for a better deal -- got in late and grabbed the first place I found.
Dinner was a riverside cafe with great views. 8,000 kip for a large Beer Lao and 16,000 kip for chicken/mushrooms/garlic in coconut sauce. Having a 30,000 kip set breakfast at a place with free wifi.
Hope that helps...
Hi everyone, just to shed some light on local conditions since we have been based here for sometime.
Laos is landlocked and everything has to be imported. Food in particular, is brought in from both Thailand and Vietnam, and in some cases China. Prices tend to increase along the way to Luang Prabang after passing a few hands.
If there's a need to go budget, like what wanderingcat has mentioned, local is the way. Even having said so, the locals are also having a hard time managing with increasing prices of food. Fuel prices can be higher at stations in Luang Prabang than that of in Vientiane (Surprisingly).
To report back on the Manichan GH, I was there 2 nights this week, and thought this GH to be an extremely good deal. The $21. room with private bath does not include the $4. breakfast, but it's still a steal. An extremely clean and well managed and friendly place - where I feel the rooms are underpriced. Breakfast was to die for - really something to rave about. Laundry service took just a few hours - back the same day. The private bathrooms are well lit and up-to-date - something you could see in a much pricier establishment. I will be back for the weekend - 2 more days at the wonderful Manichan!
I ate today at the Scandinavian Bakery - best pizza in town, delicious. I've also had excellent meals at the Cafe de Sene and the Bakery Guesthouse. I'm just having problems with the heat and sun here in Luang Prablang - the solution, an umbrella (just like the monks!)
#26 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
Since this thread is about prices, I'll comment about that now. I don't find LP cheap, but I don't really notice a big difference from Hanoi. One pays for the quality you seek. My 3rd and 4th nights here are being spent at the equally wonderful Souksavath GH (near Joma Bakery) for just $12. for a very nice, clean, airy room with private bath and wonderful Lao hospitality - another true bargain (no breakfast here, but I just loaded up on goodies at Joma - quiche and pumpkin pie with very good coffee for 60,000LAK).
#27 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
I just looked at their website and they state that the $21 has a shared bathroom - this would definitely put me off. The private bathroom rooms are $30.00 for a double and $26 for a twin. Also you don't mention that they charge extra for airconditioning - up to $5.00 pn. That certainly takes the cost up. Having said this, the guesthouse does look nice, but underpriced? No!
"By the way, you comment is very funny as I go to LP many times every year. It is just that I stay in places that are better value."
Remember this is relative, since we all value things differently. What you might consider good value, I might not. And what I consider good value, you might not.
#31 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I also stayed at the Souksavath Guest House behind JOMA Bakery for $12. - a very nice, friendly place with private bath, but no breakfast. That area has several inexpensive places and hostels. It was so friendly, I think I would tend to stay there rather than the Manichan, and it was certainly a much more Lao style residence. Whatever you do, don't miss the waterfall - really nice, really refreshing.
#33 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083