We spent most of our time in Luang Prabang just chilling out and visiting a few things that we really loved last time, as well as visiting a few new temples. It was nice to spend time around the river, and just wandering around town.
We climbed Phou Si mountain again to watch the mist float off the mountains in the morning and it was still really cool to do it again a second time.
This time we were quite amazed at how much more touristy Luang Prabang has become – not surprised at the tourism numbers themselves because Laos is fast gaining it’s reputation as an amazing place to visit – just surprised at how it is being handled. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we were quite shocked to find that all of the temples now charge entrance fees, and have shops selling junk food and trinkets to tourists either inside the temple, or just outside. It seems somehow wrong to take these beautiful historical buildings and turn them into crass shop stalls to make another buck from falang. The idea of charging entrance fees for temple upkeep seems a good one, and in many parts of Laos this really does help towards maintaining and repairing the temples; it was sad to see that the temples with the highest entrance fees had rubbish in the grounds from the shop/stall vendors who were selling packaged products, and no rubbish bins around either, so fees are clearly just being pocketed and not used positively.
Also now there are signs up around LP saying that the morning alms giving for the monks has become such a huge tourist attraction that now they are trying to discourage tourists from purchasing sticky rice from the morning vendors – apparently now instead of locals giving to the monks, they prefer to sell products to the tourists to give to them; a strange paradox – the monks are still getting fed which has to be a good thing, but some locals are worried that the religious significance of the alms has gone. Very interesting to see the progress (if you can call it that?) of this town.
Anyway, we had a pleasant few days checking out Luang Prabang again, it was really nice to be back and we’re sure we’ll return again at some point! Our photos are here.