Vang Vieng is the capital of partying, tubing and an essential on the banana-pancake backpackers trail -almost. The centre is a strip of bars, ranging from chilled beer in the sun to acid rave. Surrounding that are hostels, souvenir shops, hostels, hostels and more backpacker shops. The town is totally focused of the perfect backpacker party and the money it brings in. We decided to do the full tubing experience; bar crawling along a river, while floating in a tube, hammered and sunbathing. Alcohol and a river, what could go wrong? We had a fantastic day actually.
Having held back on the big nights out due to budget and getting old, we let loose on the river. A few buckets full of rum slushie later and we were giggling in the sun, feebly grabbing at the bars ropes and making plans with our new friends.
What could wrong I asked before, well, rain and a depleted system. Back in the hay day, Vang Vieng was the party town. People spent weeks out of their mind, stumbling around town and floating along the dozen or so river bars. But again, what could go wrong did go wrong. People had accidents, the rave was out of control and then in 2014, twenty two people died. The government shut almost everything down and has since changed the tourist audience from young raver to older outdoor explorer. Vang Vieng was great for a day, but the big crazy vibe has all but gone.
I feel I should mention Vientianne, as it was a part of our trip, but there’s not much to say from me. It’s the capital of Laos and so is much more developed that other towns or cities. It doesn’t, however, offer much for visitors. We spent the day wondering around town, people watching and eating curried fried rice. In the evening, there’s a market along the waterfront which is nice for a quick browse, we even saw what looked like a Chinese opera? Grab an ice cream and watch the sunset over the river, you might just catch the late night exercise groups doing mass neon star jumps.