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Laos Travel: The Tourists Are Invading

Travelers love to brag about their off-the-beaten-path adventures, but finding a corner of the earth that hasn't succumb to tourism is getting harder all the time. Now you can tack Luang Prabang, Laos right up there with Oman and Bangladesh.

The International Herald Tribune's Seth Mydans tells us that serene mornings along the Mekong are no longer; along with the peaceful pitter-pat of monks asking for alms is the din of camera-toting gawkers. Luang Prabang--a 700 year-old village and UNESCO heritage site since 1995--is slowly being turned into a "replica of itself," Mydans writes. The bars are open until midnight, and the quiet atmosphere that once defined the town is being bled out by a thirst for business.

It's another grim example of how tourism can change a place for the worse, drastically altering the quality of life for locals. And it presents a baffling paradox for travelers who are genuinely looking for a unique experience: How do you go without being part of the problem?


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