Vang Vieng News Article - Tubing destorying the town

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by brian_bkk, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Hi All,

    Read in the Australian press today about another person dieing while tubing in Vang Vieng. The second person to die this month.

    Then saw this link where to locals are complaining about the tubing and the impact on the town and culture..

    Must admit it was a pretty sorry sight to see all these people smashed and stumbling / sitting in the road with very little control of themselves when we were there...

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  3. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Like everywhere in Asia, It was a Great Idea from someone at the Start till every Man and His Dog copied it trying to make the Fortune they falsely believed the first Guy made!!! Vang Vieng has seen Massive development in the last decade from Zero to Hero. Backpackers are a Fluid bunch and are only looking for Cheap places and will no doubt move onto another location eventually once VV is perceived as over developed or Expensive? Tubing is not my cup of Tea but they seem to Love it! Trouble is No supervision and Doing it under the Influence? Most adventure activities don't mix well with Alcohol or Drugs! Shame anyone has to Loose their Lives trying to have Fun!
  4. schackster

    schackster Ol'Timer

    A few months back we stopped in Van Vieng for the night and compared to other places in Laos found it to be nothing short of a total disgrace. Many of the bars and restaurants were freely promoting the sale of an assortment of gourmet drug related foods and the like. One night was more than enough and we happily left the place as early as we could the following morning. I doubt Ill ever choose to stay there again.


  5. KenYam

    KenYam Ol'Timer

    We stayed there a couple of years ago for 5 days and really enjoyed the place very scenic. Hotel was great and people more helpful than other parts of Lao.
    Yes there are alot of backpackers but no were near as bad as Kao San rd or Pattaya. Yes medical services are very limited but that is the same story all over Lao,
    so you have to be very aware of this. In 2011 22 tourists died tubing down the river for whatever reason but mainly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    I guess the bottom line is use a floatation vest and stay off the piss and drugs. I am working in Lao and have met co-workers who visit this town regulary they supplied me with the information regarding the death toll from tubing.
    When I lived in Samui I saw the samilar cover ups regarding tourists death / incidents, they don't want negative stories out there that will slow up their tourist trade which is the islands main source of income.
    Lao aint Thailand its just beginning to developing recently, I suggest it maybe 30 to 40 years behind Thailand in many regards and some aspects of this will attract
    tourists for this reason.
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Hi KenYam,

    Most people would agree with the points you listed.. It is very beautiful area. The lack of development and exploitation is one of the main reasons most people I know go to Lao.. though this is changing fast - but who can deny any people the opportunity to increase their standard of living.

    Main problem is the behaviour of the tubers in Vang Vieng..
    I was recently in Khao San road this week with a friend that was visiting.. To be honest.. The people in Khao San road are model citizens compared to the tubers in Vang Vieng. Khao San Rd has gone a lot more up market over the years.. Not unusual to see families there and middle aged travelers or people just going out to eat dinner or drink in some of the nice bars down one of the side Soi's..

    On the main road from Wisut Kasat to Bang KhumProm area the cops were stopping cars / taxis etc looking for drugs.. Some will be cynical and say they are looking to make money.. but this was a very public display.. not just one or two cops pulling people up at random..

    Didn't see anyone vomiting in the street as a norm from 9pm onwards, laying in the road, banging on the roof and side of the Tuk Tuk's and walking around half naked, yelling at the top of their voices... These activities still exist in Thailand of course.. but a little more off the beaten track and not so in the public eye.
    I was first in Vang Vieng about 5 years ago and then December 2010.. The first time was OK.. not too out of control.. The last time was just ugly to be on the street.

    Luckily no other areas have been spoilt by this type of behaviour - yet. The death toll is far too high, official or unofficial.

  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Spent a night in Vang Vieng with Ian, Kiwi John and West and while it's definitely a bit "out there" I thought it was a pretty fun place with a friendly vibe.

    To those who say that tubing is "destroying" the town, I'd counter and ask, "where would the town be without the tubing?"

    It brings tons of tourist dollars to the town and creates jobs. Some might see that as a good thing, others might not...

    As for the drugs, well, most of the revelers are adults- if they want to get high and possibly drown, I guess that's their right. Vang Vieng certainly doesn't have a monopoly on the drug trade in Laos. Pretty much every where we stayed the locals were trying to sell us weed and shrooms. If you don't like it, just say no :)

    And as for the folks who get lit and then float down a river- Let Darwin sort 'em out!
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Don't think anyone is saying stop the tubing altogether.. Just that it needs to be done responsibly and keeping in mind all visitors and the locals. Not just one group. Easier said than done I know.. when the local officials are making a killing.

    Most people I know avoid Vang Vieng for the reasons detailed in the article.. Which is a shame as it really is a lovely area..

    May be I have been going to the wrong places.. Except for Vang Vieng I have never been offered drugs or even noticed them for sale.. Plenty of offers of woman at the hotels late in the evening :-0

  9. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    Have been in VV a couple of days ago at the end of my Laostrip. All I can say is: NEVER AGAIN!
    I've never seen so many human scum with the worst behaviour you can imagine (or maybe not).
    F.e. a drunken, completely naked guy in the mainstreet at about 8 pm. Lao parents held their hands
    in front of their kids, so they had not to see it.
    Another guy vomitted into the menuecard of an Indian restaurant, while I was sitting 2 meters away. This
    wasn't because of alcohol, he obviously wanted to show, he's not satisfied with the meal.
    Just Bastards.
  10. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    It saddens me greatly to read these stories. Given the number of reports & as I know many of the authors I have no doubt as to their accuracy. I was there a couple of times over 2009 & 2010 & clearly matters have degenerated since then. I still recommend VV to friends, but now need to reflect on matters. What a shame as the run down from Luang Prabang is one of the best & the views on reaching VV a total knock-out. a great setting with good infrastructure.....sad.
  11. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    Totally agree.. Was there a few months ago and wanted to stay another night or so but didnt have time.. We saw none of the naked people, loud behavior mentioned.. Few dreddie stoners and maybe someone who was shower dodging perhaps the worst you could complain about.

    Is it some pastoral Laos hideaway of culture.. Hell no.. But was it a good stop on route where we could get a room, a feed, and a drink of the evening easily and some entertainment.. Sure..

    Would the towns population prefer no one come ?? Maybe some do.. But I would guess the majority dont. No once their livelyhood comes into it.

    As to the drugs issue.. I think anyone who ever drinks needs to take a long hard look in the mirror before they cast stones. Its perfectly possible for someone to be a model social citizen and enjoy highs that are not legal (read taxable).. if someones being an ass while high, the chances are they are an ass, not only high.
  12. HTWoodson

    HTWoodson Ol'Timer


    I spent a week there about 2 years ago and didn't see any of this outrageous behavior people are talking about. Sure, lots of people drinking, but I've seen far worse at many other places. Vang Vieng was well behaved compared to Koh Pha Ngan or even Pattaya, and the whole town was pretty much closed down by 11pm. I don't like seeing such a pretty area becoming so touristy, but I think people are making more of it than it is.
  13. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Guess we all had a bad dream and imagined it all.. Must have slipped a mushroom in my shake when I wasn't looking.
  14. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

  15. mudboots

    mudboots Ol'Timer

    Yes i to seen 60 minutes last Sunday and yes they all in there 20's, good old OZ'y party animals, seen the same behaviour in Pamploma Spain as well as the beerfest in Germany to Earls Court in London Australian young lads are famous for it.
  16. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Stumbled across this Youtube video while looking for something else...

    Tubing in Laos (and the broken skull)
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    There is an attempt to clean up Vang Vieng at the moment...

  18. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

  19. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

  20. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Seems Australians are at the forefront of complaints - 60 Minutes (Qld) last night ran a segment featuring the mother of a lad in his mid-twenties holidaying in Laos after graduating from University who died there in January. The mother said that following pressure, the authorities were 'closing it down'. I'm not sure when the footage shown of the tubing area was taken but the place looked considerably quieter than when I was last there.

    There's been a substantial cultural change in Australia since I left some 20 years ago - kids head out to drink specifically to get totally smashed. Girls are amongst the worst. 'Schoolies' event see parents stocking their homes with alcohol for the kids, many under age, & then leaving it to them for the partying (falsely excusing themselves on the basis they are controlling what the kids drink). Everyone looks to be pumping iron & taking that that goes with it to be 'big & strong'. Parents who try to exercise some control are threatened with legal action from their kids.

    On the ocassions my wife & I were in Viang Vieng it was very much a 'boys will be boys' type of affair with the girls partying just as hard - basically lots of fun probably not too different from the type of fun many contributing to this forum had in their younger days. I recall a level of politeness from the kids to those, somewhat older, like ourselves who paddled downstream by canoe, in that they would purposely avoid 'bombing' us, be concerned that we got safely through. Sure they arrived back at night totally wasted but were not aggressive, not a problem for shop owners.

    I'm sure that there were problems aplenty that I did not witness; the death toll in itself is enough to raise concerns with even the most ardent of supporters, but what a shame to see the baby disappearing with the bath water. Its good side will remain one of my fondest memories of SE Asia.
  21. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Very True Rod. Our Society has removed Our Right to be responsible for Our own actions!!! They know Best it seems? Our Freedom has been removed for everyone in the Name of Our Own Safety and enforcing Draconian Laws! Shame I as My Years growing up in NZ were a Ripper and Now Kids just can't enjoy the Same levels of good Old Fashion FUN!!!
  22. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer


    Well said Ian!!
  23. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    What part of vomiting in the street.. running around naked or dieing and cracking you skull open as per the Youtube clip are fun?

    The silent majority do the right thing.. The rules and regulations are for the noisy minority that don't know restraint.

  24. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Drugs + Watersports ... never struck me as a particularly great combination. That said, I enjoyed the cheap guest houses and fantastic scenery in VV. The article sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.. also I do think that the organic farm gets WAY more volunteers this way than it otherwise would, and that's good for everyone, isn't it.

    I hear the backpackers are still watching "Friends" (the TV series) in VV.. it's a phenomenon. 12 years ago, it was old. Now, it's apparently considered retro!
  25. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

  26. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    From the Vientiane Times.

    Fewer Western tourists visiting Vangvieng

    The closure of bars and swings along the Xong River in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, has caused a dramatic drop in European visitor numbers, affecting the town's small businesses.

    Before the popular tourist destination was transformed from a hedonistic party town to a more nature-based retreat in 2012, Europeans dominated visitor numbers.

    However, according to the Department of Information, Culture and Tourism, since the change about 60 percent of visitors have come from Japan, China and the Republic of Korea.

    The department's tourism office said Asian visitors tended to choose high-end accommodation options, leaving many smaller business operators out in the cold.

    Several bars along the Xong River, which runs through the centre of the town, were shut down after they were found to be selling illegal products.

    The consumption of opium, cannabis and hallucinogenic mushrooms along the river led to the deaths of several visitors.

    Vangvieng received international news coverage in the wake of backpacker deaths believed to be related to drugs, harming the reputation of the town and the country.

    Tourism Office Head, Mr Bounpan Phomavong, said it was not easy to rebuild the town's image.

    “We have to keep a close watch on local businesses to make sure they do not spoil tourists, and ensure that tourists do not violate rules like wearing revealing clothes while walking around town,” he said.

    Mr Bounpan said the office had tried to publicise its rules in the town to make business operators and visitors fully aware of their actions and ensure Vangvieng remained a tourist destination in the long run.

    While some businesses have expressed discontent with the stricter regulations and their impact on business, authorities believe the lives of tourists and the peace and safety of the town are paramount.

    However, the office did admit that some bars and restaurants were still not sticking to the rules.

    Fortunately, no one has died in Vangvieng since the swings and most bars on the river were closed more than a year ago.

    By Phonesavanh Sangsomboun
    (Latest Update October 11, 2013)

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