As soon as I reached the bus terminal in Luang Prang a cascade of tuk-tuk drivers all swamped us travellers. They all tried to take our bags and fill their buggies with travellers to leave for the center. Many of the tuk-tuk drivers were affiliated with guesthouses so they also showed us their brochures while trying to coax us to get on their tuk-tuk. Just be prepared! The rates are all the same hovering around $2 USD to get to the center so there is no use trying to bargain down to a good price.
Since I was alone and I wanted to make new friends, I chose a tuk-tuk that seemed to have a lot of foreign backpackers all looking lost like myself and seem to be around my age range. I met some girls from the U.K, a couple from Germany and a guy from the U.S. We were dropped off at the guest house hub right next the center where most of the affordable guesthouses were.
We all huddled in a group as many guesthouse owners started their daily routine of trying to get us to their houses. The group I was in could not decide where they wanted to go and were very picky. All I wanted to do was take a hot shower and just collapse on a bed. I didn’t care if cockroaches decided to feast on me. I just needed sleeeep.
So while the group decided to move down to unknown territory in search of utopia, I searched for a guesthouse where we were dropped off. A man who looked kind relative to all the others kept persisting that I stay at his guesthouse. I asked him how much. He said $8 a night. I was like hell no. I’m a poor student on a budget…in my head haha.
So I said how about $5? and if i like it tonight I’ll bring more people tomorrow. That seemed to work. He thought about it for a second and said fine. I didn’t know I could be so persuasive. Actually one life skill I have polished while travelling is my negotiating skills. I should do it more often. But maybe this is one of the fun things about backpacking in Southeast Asia. I wonder if it would be the same trying to bargain in Europe or some place else.
The guy took me through some dark alleys and I was so ready to turn around and start sprinting. I was like great Claudia…what have you gotten yourself into….but thankfully nothing happened. The guesthouse was in a quieter area and the room had a private bathroom and free wifi!!! I love free wifi!!
So I left all my stuff and decided to go to the famous night market of Luang Prabang.
I was so hungry, I went to the night market and started looking around for food. Then I met the girl from U.K and the guy from the U.S from the tuk-tuk! YEY! They told me they also got sick of following the group who couldn’t make up their mind. So they also just found a cheap place on the main guesthouse road.
We ate amazing food for so cheap! The fish was amazing! Please try the fish when you go here. It’s lightly seasoned and just grilled but Mmmmm Delicious! The pork was a little dry but still good nevertheless. The stalls are mostly buffets so you take as much as possible on your plate. You just need to pay by plate. Oh! and don’t forget the beer! Cheap good beer 🙂
Afterwards, we decided to go look around the night market. There were so many pretty paintings, accessories and my love harlem pants (baggy pants?). The market is largely geared towards international tourists so prices may be high at first but that’s where your well polished bargaining skills come in.
But I was in a bar at Luang Prabang after this night and I felt so bad after reading something at the back of a menu. There was a paragraph that said while bargaining you may be saving just $1 but this can be three whole meals for the locals. I was like ouch…guilt tripped. I should bargain on reasonable lines.
Oh! I forgot to note. I feel like Laos is such a safe place especially for female travellers roaming alone. Overall I didn’t feel threatened at all in Southeast Asia. Is it to do with Buddhism?