Sitting on the banks of the Song River, the rural town might seem serene now. But Vang Vieng has seen a tumultuous 15 years, evolving from an agricultural community to a hedonistic party capital when it was “discovered” by Western shoestring travelers in the late 1990s.
Excessive drinking, drugs, trash, concrete construction and fatal accidents were detrimental to the local community.
But in 2012, Vang Vieng’s narrative changed completely when the government shuttered most of the problematic bars and activities and repositioned the town as an eco-paradise.
Since then, a refreshed Vang Vieng has risen from the ashes of its erstwhile excesses.
The town has reinvented itself as the country’s hub of adventure travel, offering a lengthy menu of adrenaline-fueled experiences.
Read the full text of my latest story with Laure Siegel here.