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If you take Lonely Planet seriously you would think that Vang Vieng has graduated into the Major League of non-stop party scenes, right there with Bangkok's Khao San road, The Strip and Ibiza. The reality however, is not nearly as frightening as that. Sure, Vang Vieng has already become a fixture on the Laos backpacking circuit, a mandatory stop on the South-East Asia tourist trek, and for good reasons. Tubing (while drinking, optionally) down the Nam Song river is drawing a steady stream of enthusiastic, boisterous water-splashers; the more adventurous fill their day with adrenaline-loaded activities like caving, kayaking and rock-climbing; the scenery is breathtaking, the jagged karst mountains jutting out of the rice fields, dominating the landscape for miles.
On the more decadent side, in what has become a trademark of the Vang Vieng experience, many restaurants play endless reruns of Friends on their street-side open patios, drunk falang in their bathing suits waddle their way in the middle of the street to the next bar, and the famous happy-shakes are more popular than ever. But the charm of the place has not yet been spoiled by unrestrained partying. In fact, I found the town rather quiet; there were few tourists around and no loud music was blaring from speakers at the bars. The vibe was peaceful... still. Perhaps the fact that all of Laos more-or-less shuts down at 11pm plays a role in that.
We didn't stay here too long, only enough to have a drink at a riverside restaurant admiring the magnificent sunset over the mountains and to do a bit of tubing the next day. Angela and our travel-friend Rahel did the tubing, I did the drinking...Posted from Chiang Mai, Thailand.