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Luang Prabang’s Night Market Vendors Enthused by Return of Tourists 

Source: Vientiane Times

The night market in Luang Prabang city has benefited from the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, with vendors making a comeback and earning a steady income by selling souvenirs, especially handmade items of wood, bamboo, and textiles.

Local traders on the main street stretching around two to three kilometers now have big smiles, with the night market full of shoppers from 5 pm to 11 pm almost every day.

The arrival of a growing number of domestic and foreign visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage City has livened up the atmosphere, giving hope to local vendors who faced many difficulties since early 2020, when the Coronavirus outbreak affected their business.

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“It’s amazing to see a lot of domestic and international travelers coming to the town again. This brings back old memories of the time when the streets were full of visitors from across the region and other continents,” Mrs. Vang, a local vendor at the night market, told Vientiane Times recently.

She said she has been selling souvenirs and other items at the night market in the center of Luang Prabang for many years and usually earned enough to support her family and school-going children.

“During the pandemic, our incomes were totally dependent on selling seasonal agricultural products, but that was not enough to take care of our domestic expenses. Now, we are back to earning a regular income at the market again,” Mrs. Vang said.

Besides the vendors at the night market celebrating the return of the old atmosphere, owners of restaurants and hoteliers are happy to be able to provide food and accommodation to visitors at reasonable prices based on the current rate of exchange.

Luang Prabang province attracts many visitors due to the uniqueness of its landscape and its tourist attractions. For instance, Luang Prabang city is surrounded by rivers and mountains and is popular because of its unique buildings with a colonial panache, famous ancient temples, natural waterfalls, and caves.

The tourism sector is also renowned for its living culture, a reference to the way of life of the local people. The region is home to multiple ethnicities, including the Lao, Khmu, and Hmong.

Traveling to the world-famous destination from Vientiane by the Laos-China Railway takes a couple of hours, while Lao Airlines and foreign carriers operate several flights to the city every day.

The province expects to attract up to 730,000 visitors, including more than  300,000 domestic tourists, during 2023, and earn more than US$360 million from tourism, according to the province’s Information, Culture, and Tourism Department.

Tourist arrivals in the province have already crossed 500,000, exceeding the target of 237,272 tourists by 177.11 percent.

This figure included 277,934 domestic travelers and 253,654 foreign tourists. The gross spending by the tourists was US$216 million, exceeding the target of US$162 million for 2021.

The province has 104 tour companies and is set to issue business licenses to eight new tour companies as part of efforts to promote efficient and high-quality services to international visitors.