Monday, November 28, 2011

Of course nobody wants to visit the Plain of Jars

Todays Vietnam Times says:
The Plain of Jars, the major tourist attraction in Xieng Khuang province, will be the focus of a promotional blitz after reports of lower visitor numbers recently.
Not a surprise. First of all the problem with this spot is that you are done in 1 hour. Have seen one jar means you have seem them all. Although there are 3 different spots, the experience is always the same. Then it comes to accessibility: This place is basically not accessible. Not enough flights, and travel by bus or car takes way to long. You are literally trapped there for at least one night. and there is nothing to do. No museu. No restaurants for tourists. No entertainment. Nothing. If the earth would be flat, this is the place were it ends. My concern is that again the Plain Of Jars will be promoted the way local authorities like to see it, not what actually international tourists expect. What is indeed a good development, if real is this:
In the past, tourist numbers averaged almost 3,000 people per month, of whom 80 percent were foreign visitors, but this number has dropped to 2,600 people, most of whom are Lao.
If locals really start travelling, then it is a good sign. I know what I am talking about: German people spend most of their holidays in Germany. Now comes the real bad news:
To ensure all visitors have a great time when they are here, especially in the coming Visit Laos Year, we are preparing some special events and also trying to promote the purchase of local products such as wood carvings and silk..
I haven't seen a single local event that met international tourist standards. The program is usually boring, you see always the same dances and cultural performances, and when it come sto local singers, it is getting worth. Be prepared of high-pitch-singing-but-never-hitting-the-tone-girls, as well as a moderator that shouts so loud as there wasn't a loudspeaker. Again, if this should attract more local vistors, I am fine with it. But the complain is about the decrease of foreigners, and it is time for those spots, to open up to international standards. (Just in case you expected a well balanced, polite and political correct article: That's the wrong place. I want to provoke, and I like to use irony without placing the irony tag every time when I use it)


  1. There are not 3 different spots but more than 80 places where you can find jars. Most of them are not open and there are only 4 or 5 spots open right now.
    Did you stay at l'Auberge de la plaine des jarres ? Very nice place.
    If you want international standards, thank god, stay away from Lao and go to Phuket. I have been working in a top end travel agency in Laos. With good organisation and knowledge you can have a very confortable stay in Lao but it costs more than people expect.

    and you should know that Vientiane Times is the first science-fiction newspaper in the world.

  2. Ok, of course there are more spots, but come on, you need to be a cultural enthusiast or scientists to get excited about them. Then, I was wondering why you think international standard of tourism is Phuket (in particular when you worked in a top end travel agency). What I mean is proper hotels, access, restaurants, museum, guides etc. You should know that international tourists expect some value for money they get in other countries. Laos is currently overpriced, especially Luang Prabang. I was in Bang Xiang recently, this is what I mean with international standard. (and there is a reason why I mention the quote is from Vientiane Times. Of course they make up things. So there are propably less then 2600 tourists there.)