I think you are writing to a like-minded audience, Big S, as most of us reading Couchfish are already independent travelers who stay in family-run guesthouses and eat at family-owned restaurants. And it isn't ONLY because we are cheap; it is because we look for the adventure.

I will add that I was in Luang Prabang in 2006 (on my second visit) and proudly did more than my share to maintain the one beer per visitor average. I must say, based on what I saw, I agree that number is hard to believe. Cheers.

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Yes, when I read the one beer bit I thought “hell no!”


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Oct 19, 2022·edited Oct 19, 2022

Interesting article. I will try and read the full report later. My wife & I moved to LPB in July this year and we are witnessing the great post-lockdown reset. Through Aug & Sept I would guess 80% of tourists were Thais in the mid-range category. Probably 80% of them were in tour groups (Fleets of mini-buses shuttling them around all day). Since Oct there has been a big increase in European/US/Aus travellers in the low/mid-range category. Guess that trend will continue as high season approaches. Residential to guesthouse conversions that stalled 2 years back are now all being worked on furiously. And yes, all the owners seem to be old women (We have got to know a few). Lots of the old backpacker guesthouses and small restaurants are still closed. The high end hotels seem to have guests now, unlike in August. I even stuck my head in at the Amantaka hotel and saw a few of the 1% sipping drinks on their sun loungers in the gardens. Rooms there start at an eye-watering USD1,000 per night. I don't imagine the staff are paid 10x what their counterparts get in other hotels which charge "only" $100 or so. There was a big rush of tourist around 11-Oct for LPB's Festival of Lights. But funny/sad to see how quickly they left town after the big night time parade. Itchy feet, tick-the-box mentality. Anyhow, will be interesting so see how things work out for LPB after this great reset. Of course the train from Vientiane makes a massive difference for mid-Category Thai tourists who now pop in for the weekend. But I fear for what will happen when China opens the border........

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I've sadly not been back to Luang Prabang since March 2006 (due in part to a repeatedly delayed and eventually cancelled planned trip during the pandemic). One of my favourite places in SEA.

Everything here is recognisable - other than the 1 beer per head!

I'm itching to get back - in part out of a curiosity to see how much has changed relative to other places in the region.

I'm not sure whether I expect it to have changed a lot or a little (compared to other towns).

I wonder whether I'd enjoy it more now or less.

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