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Finance and money forum

Financial Crisis = Cheap travel?

Posted by tjs2602 on 29/12/2008 at 17:12

I'm from Australia, and I've been reading heaps about how Thailand and Vietnam have only been getting a fraction of the number of tourists they were hoping for.

Does that mean that everything (accommodation/internal flights/food/attractions etc.) is going cheap to attract more tourists?

I'm heading to Laos in mid-late Feb so I wanted to know how much money I could expect to spend/save due to the GFC.


#1 tjs2602 has been a member since 29/12/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by idreamofdurian on 30/12/2008 at 22:16 TF writer

Laos does not have any of the tourist infrastructure that Thailand, or even Vietnam, does. There are *no* 5-star resorts in Laos willing to give big discounts because they have 150 unoccupied rooms... attractions in Laos typically include visiting Buddhist temples, treks to hilltribe villages, and local markets - there will not be a "GFC discount" at these types of places.

Laos is a minimally developed country and prices for food, accommodations, etc. are already dirt-cheap. When a guesthouse room is $5 (fan) - $20 (a/c, TV) and lunch costs $2, what sort of savings can you expect?? There are no multi-national companies in Laos, businesses are locally-owned, and I cannot imagine that you will see any impact of the financial crisis in Laos.

I suggest you do some more reading about the country you're intending to visit before you go there...

#2 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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Posted by tjs2602 on 31/12/2008 at 08:39

I dont think my question was as ignorant as you make it out to be. Isn't the whole point of this website to be able to find out about the countries that I'm intending to visit, and ask questions about countries that I've never been to?

I think it's pretty reasonable to ask the question since prices have only risen in the burgeoning tourist areas in Laos over the past few years. I just want to know if those prices would be stagnating or even dropping back if there are less tourists coming into areas like Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Don Dhet and Vientiane.

If Thailand and Vietnam are not getting nearly as many tourists as they have been in previous years, then it makes sense that Laos will experience the same. Please, pardon my naïvety if this is not the case.

Also, I'd really like it if someone who's actually been to Laos in the past few months to reply, preferably without the holier-than-thou-art attitude,

#3 tjs2602 has been a member since 29/12/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by somtam2000 on 31/12/2008 at 09:04 admin


As far as I know Thailand is the country that is being badly affected by a tourism drop off (primarily due to internal political meltdowns and dramas scaring people off rather than the global meltdown) -- not so much Laos and Vietnam.

Yes, the drop in tourists to Thailand may see reduced numbers in Laos (as most come via Thailand), but I don't think Laos is looking at quite the meltdown Thailand is.

There was a lot of talk of heavily discounted hotels, especially on the Thai islands, but as far as I know the discounts never really appeared -- or not enmasse at least.

Regards Laos, I wouldn't expect to see a substantial drop off in prices. As idreamofdurian, day to day expenses in Laos (food, drink, local transport etc) are already very inexpensive, so even if there was a substantial drop in prices, you wouldn't be looking at big savings.

Hope that helps

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,644
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Posted by exacto on 31/12/2008 at 23:44

Like Somtam says, the drop off in tourists seems to be primarily in Thailand right now and largely due to political rather than financial issues. However, over the longer term, as the financial stuff ripples through the world, I suspect you will see fewer tourists even in places like Laos.

I'd expect that any significant discounts you'd see will be more on long-haul air travel to/from the region and on higher-end hotels, restaurants, and tours.

As durian says, there isn't a whole bunch of that higher-end style stuff in Laos, particularly when compared to Thailand, but there is some. But unless you planned on staying in the more expensive places anyway, you'll probably only see a little bit of savings on things like day tours in Luang Prabang, as the price-driven competition to land their fair share of a decreasing number of tourists increases.

You know, the people of laos are great. Really fantastic. And as durian says, many of the businesses are locally-owned and already operating on shoestring profit margins.

When I am travelling in Laos I don't really barter all that hard, because for the most part, the first price I'm offered is already a great deal and frankly less than I'm willing to pay anyway. For what it is worth, I don't think tjs was looking to take advantage of the GFC situation by getting lower prices at the expense of the nice Lao people, but I can see (and have seen) how that kind of attitude would bother people who care about Laos.

Happy New Year.

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Posted by brucemoon on 23/2/2009 at 14:29


For those reading this 'post', generality may be more helpful.

As the world over, prices sought to be booked before hand will normally be offered at the 'preferred going rate'.

If there is an oversupply of tourists, prices will rise close to the date for purchase. However, rarely will a forward booking be reduced in price when sought from a distance in times of tourist droughts.

Where there is a shortage of customers, many (but not all) service providers will entertain bargaining. But, only face to face!

But, just because place A has a shortage of tourists doesn't mean establishment B is short of customers. So, when in a city, shop around to get a feel for the prices.

As for market-place pricing, it depends on whether you're the lonely westerner at a local marketplace, or at a marketplace oriented for tourists. At all times, traders will seek to make a profit: even a huge one if you are obviously a tourist. That said, always barter.

If you are in a place where tourists don't normally go, start by just suggesting, "that's too much, can you make it cheaper". To start at (say) 25% of the original quoted price may really offend and the trader may not want to talk to you at all.

Sadly, in 'tourist' oriented marketplaces it appears the norm to start at somewhere about 10% to 25% of the quoted price.

In either case, NEVER get angry, ALWAYS be cheerful, be joking and happy. That way, you'll get a better price.

I remember being at a market in Thailand and spent nearly half an hour bartering for a hand of banana's. The quoted price was about US$0.70, and I eventually got for US$0.20. It wasn't the money - though it was. Rather, it was the fun of bartering. Our transaction was obviously entertaining. When we exchanged goods/money, we had about 30 people milling around. Lesson - make it fun for all!

I found late last year that for accommodation in Vietnam, I could get about a 30% to 50% reduction from the 'listed' prices by walking around and negotiating (again, joking, etc).

Idreamofdurian made the point above that in a global context, SE Asia is not an expensive destination. That said, no-one likes being ripped off.

In the current 'credit crisis' situation, from afar traders are still seeking last years' 'high' prices. Comments to date suggest that 'on the spot' significant reductions can be found (which perhaps means the product was overpriced).

If you want to visit SE Asia, just do it! It's an experience of a lifetime (or for some of us, a lifetime experience) and a percentage difference on the overall travel budget isn't going to change your experience or your journey.

Just enjoy what 'life' has to offer!


#6 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by amazon_blonde on 23/2/2009 at 22:09

I've been travelling in SEA. Was in Thailand Dec/Jan and in Laos & Cambodia this month. Lots of backpackers and flashpackers. Everywhere. High end tourism may be down but budget and midrange travellers have not been deterred. Impact of fin crisis on that sector appears to be negligible. In fact, I've met some people who are travelling because of it. Hope that helps.

#7 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116

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