Vang Vieng – From Limestone Cliffs to Being Lost in Rice Fields

Vang Vieng was once the undisputed party town on the Southeast Asian backpacker circuit. Here you could hire a tube and float down the river stopping at any of the dozens of bars lining the riverbanks. Beer, and especially spirits, were essentially on tap costing less than a $1 a glass. After 27 recorded deaths of backpackers in 2011 alone, this finally was the wake up Laos needed to see that copious amounts of alcohol and drugs and floating down the river on a tube do not go well together. As a result, during 2012 a lot of the bars, mostly illegal establishments, were closed down and tighter safety rules were put in place to prevent any further tragedies occurring. So five years on, is Vang Vieng still clinging to it’s past as a place for young twenty somethings to let their hair down and party the day and night away or has it successfully reinvented itself as a destination for all travellers?

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