English football breaks Lao 'charm, quiet, serenity'

Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of the Lan Xang kingdom, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As increasing numbers of travelers visit the city, up-market hotels are springing up to cater for well-heeled tourists. "I used to dream of Luang Prabang. It seemed in my imagination to be the most delectable of all Shangri-las," wrote Bradley Winterton in the Taipei Times.

"Other countries in Southeast Asia might be tainted by tourism, but not Laos. And whereas Vientiane must be the shabby, dusty capital it is so often described as, Luang Prabang must surely retain the purest essence of Buddhist charm, pastoral quiet and Asian serenity.

"The reality proves rather different. 'We accept Lao kip, Thai baht, US dollars and euros,' says a notice outside Nao's Place where the big draw is a large-scale satellite TV screen and live coverage of UK soccer. On the night Liverpool was playing Manchester United it was impossible to find a seat."