Once Laos’ main party destination, Vang Vieng has shifted its focus from a rowdy backpackers’ hub to an outdoor activities town. The city was originally settled as a staging post between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Major improvements to the town’s infrastructure were made during the Vietnam War with the construction of a US Air Force base and a airstrip.
For the first time in years a more mature group of travellers are visiting Vang Vieng. During years the famous ‘tubing’ and non-stop party scene kept attracting a large number of backpackers eager to experience the hedonistic paradise that uncontrolled tourism had created. In 2012 the Lao government carried out a crackdown on all bars and businesses operating in the riverside area in an effort to control these activities and to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities.
Nowadays there are a number of activities and attractions such as kayaking, mountain biking and climbing. Also there are numerous caves and karsts to explore and many of the picturesque spots are within walking distance. The number of young westerner travellers has dramatically dropped, giving birth to a more positive, responsible and sustainable tourism model.