Even with the 'high-season tourist migration' (which could well rival the mass-movement of wildebeast), the boat from the border town of Huay Xai down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang can still be a rewarding journey.
But it's preferable to see past the crowd of drunken backpackers competing to be the coolest . . . and, if overnighting in Pakbeng, try and not let your sudden abandonment and ensuing pitch-dark, scrabbling search for baggage dampen your spirit or belongings. Take a deep breath and just be thankful you may have secured a bed somewhere in the spillage of accommodation lining the winding, upward road from the River.
Finally, when arriving in Luang Prabang, don't be disheartened by the over-dressed Old Sector. Ease past the herds of grazing visitors and seek out a quiet, less frequented restaurant to relax with 5 or 6 rapid Lao-Lao and tonics. The resulting rosy-glow only enhances the irrepressible spiritual depth of Luang Prabang and quietly dispels all your misgivings . . .