In reading up on Laos and Luang Prabang I have read conflicting stories regarding the amount of tourism. Part of the reason of choosing Laos was because of wanting to be away from the hoards that you find at other locations that have become popular these days. By going in October will I miss the main tourism season? I really don't want to travel half way around the World to see and talk with a bunch of people that live near me. Thanks!
#1 sunlvr has been a member since 7/8/2014. Posts: 37
Most of the places you go in Laos will have tourists unless you get a bit off the beaten track. Luang Prabang is a beautiful and captivating city and you'll have opportunities to get to know local people if you spend more than just a few nights there, I highly recommend you check it out. If you are really looking to get off the beaten path then I recommend going to Southern Laos, where you can rent a motorbike and really explore. You'll probably end up staying in areas with travelers (Tad Lo, Paksong, Attepeau, etc.) but get away from all that with ease. Still, I'd recommend you find a travel buddy to rent bikes with, just to avoid any loneliness and also in case something should happen while on your moto.
The "beaten path" in Laos consists of about 6-8 towns and a couple Mekong islands, and tourism-wise it's significantly less busy than the top-10 in Thailand. Luang Prabang is the number one favorite, and inside the UNESCO Heritage area along the Mekong where most of the accommodation is it's pretty touristy. But in October things are usually relatively quiet, and all you need is a bicycle or short walk to escape the main tourist zone. Of course it's also a matter of choice, if you go up Phousi hill for sunset, walk through the night market, go to Kuangsi waterfall or Pak Ou cave, or do other touristy things you will be surrounded by "those people"
95% of the tourists in Luang Prabang hang out on the peninsula - it's a really simple matter to wander off in different directions (across the Mekong or even down to the older section of town). I don't really think the month of travel will make much of a difference. In my opinion, the very best thing about LP is it's proximity to Kwang Si Waterfall - don't miss it.
Recently I took a cruise on Halong Bay, and just couldn't see what's so great about cruising with a bunch of middle class westerners who did nothing but talk of other countries than the one we were traveling in!
Personally, I think Luang Prabang is worth the trip no matter how many other tourists are there. Besides, as daawgon says, you can easily escape into the countryside for trips to great spots like Kwang Si.
In my experience, southern Laos sees far fewer tourists than the north. It has been 4 years now, but places like Savannakhet had hardly any other westerners in it during my last visit, and Champasak was nearly deserted. Of the two, I liked Champasak better, and the proximity to Pakse makes for an easy jumping off point for the Bolevans Plateau loop and other spots caseyprich mentions. Phon Savan and the Plain of Jars didn't have many people either when I went, but that was too long ago now to know what it might be like for you. Hopefully someone who has been more recently can say.
Whatever you do, don't be one of those snobs who treats other tourists as an intrusion on their adventure, because in the end we are all JAFT anyway. Laos is lovely. You should have a great time. Cheers.
Thanks everyone for you replies and suggestions! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy meeting other travelers it was the "Disneyesque" comment that made me a little nervous, if I want something like that I'll go to an all inclusive in the D.R.
I'm looking so forward to this journey and ALL experiences will be loved. (except maybe the buses) lol
#6 sunlvr has been a member since 7/8/2014. Posts: 37