I would like to know if it is possible for someone to visit the villages around Luang Prabang without booking a tour and if this is worth it/recommended.
I realize that it is easier to visit some villages (eg the whisky village or the village across Mekong). But what about the ones that the companies promote as hilltribe village tours?
#1 xontros has been a member since 3/5/2009. Posts: 19
Laos does not have travel restrictions. So, if you want to rent a motorbike and go visit a village, there is no rule stopping you.
That said, most villages near to Luang Prabang have been seeing tourists come to their village for many many years. Generally, in the area around Luang Prabang, tour companies have organised their tour so that someone can speak lao and interacts with locals (to a minor degree) so that you can at least say hello, buy goods, etc. So, if you go on your own, unless you speak a bit of Lao, you'll just be touring through a place where everyone is (largely) getting on with their life.
There is no right or wrong. It just depends on what you'd like for yourself.
And, you don't have to book before you get to Luang Prabang. You can do it easily when there.
Hope this helps (a bit).
thank you very much for the repply
My question was not so much about the restrictions but rather about the difficulty of doing this as a day trip from LP by myself (eg will i find the villages easy? etc).
Also can you recommend a company that is reliable and not expensive? I checked the prices on net and I find them a bit too much.
Again thanks for the info
#3 xontros has been a member since 3/5/2009. Posts: 19
I don't know how travel 'savvy' you are.
So, I don't know how able you are to deal with chatting with locals, getting from A to B, etc., etc., etc..
For sure, the internet offerings will be REALLY expensive. personally, I'd wait till I got to Luang Prabang and then checked out what is available.
Luang Prabang is a small town. There is one street that has most travel shops each with guide services. You won't save any time, and certainly no money, by booking in advance.
If you want to do it by yourself, then you HAVE to be in Luang Prabang to get a map, and also get wheels. Alternatively, you can take a river boat up to Nong Khiaw and visit heaps of villages from there.
I have never done this in Laos... so clearly Bruce has better insight on that. But in Thailand I have done it a lot. I think if you don't have decent transportation, and can't speak Laos, then you had better make sure you are carrying food because some villages at least here don't have any restaraunts and if you eat local in villages the chances of getting the runs - with no public toilet in sight - is a real possibility (my Thai wife won't eat village food from road side stands anymore because of this). People tend to be very helpful here, though, and if you got in a jam for a place to spend the night, I'm sure a bench could be found in a local temple somewhere. I know a guy who does this all over the place, travels on a bike and sleeps in temples (and showers there too). He's living very cheaply and has legs like tree trunks.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Thanks for the useful advise!!
I certainly won't book something via internet.
#6 xontros has been a member since 3/5/2009. Posts: 19