Vang Vieng Closed Down – What Happened?

Tubing-w-Kate.jpg

What it used to look like (2008)

Vang Vieng Closed?

Have you heard that the crazy party that used to exist around the town of Vang Vieng, Laos has closed down? Maybe you’ve even been thinking about heading out there to possibly go tubing down the river and get involved in the crazy antics yourself. Well, Vang Vieng has changed… a lot apparently.

What Was it?

Vang Vieng used to be well known for it’s tubing atmosphere. But it became much more than that, it got ridiculously out of control. In a country that has a curfew, and doesn’t support drugs or much drinking, Vang Vieng somehow blossomed into the Amsterdam of South East Asia. Drinking ran rampant, Opium was easy to get your hands on, mushrooms were easily available and weed was a mainstay of the little town.

In a couple of years, it went from being a town with no paved roads, known for having bars on the river where everyone would have a few drinks and then continue to go tubing…. to a place where young travelers looking for the party would come and get wasted, on a mix of the four substances.

A leisurely tubing experience down the river became a fairly dangerous, full octane binge. Capitalism hit this little town in communist Laos hard… bars started moving closer to where tubing started, ignoring the depth of the river.

Oh, and don’t forget about the swings, and the ziplines, and that massive jump. Things got pretty crazy.

Why did it shut down?

Well… if the afore mentioned reasons weren’t quite enough to convince you that this town was starting to run just a little astray, let me add something else to the mix… deaths. Yes, that’s right. As it turns out, when you have people on all sorts of drugs, jumping off of swings and ziplines and tube jumps in a river that really isn’t that deep… well people start to die.

It was most likely due to the rising death tolls of tourists and the complaints of many of the locals who has seen their town become nothing more than a binge vacation spot for 20 year olds that shut down this town.

Wondering what it used to be like? Check out either:

Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos
Special Menu, Happy Menu in Vang Vieng

If you go now, from what I understand, there’s a few bars left on the river, and a totally different atmosphere… but maybe that’s what it should’ve been in the first place, and maybe even saying that Veng Vieng has closed down is part of the problem?!

Jonny Jenkins

Jonny Jenkins

My name is Jonny, my friends call me Stef. I'm Canadian born, but don't find my identity based upon some borders that man drew hundreds of years ago. I have begun to make my way through the world, travelling and living in many different countries and cultures. I believe whole heartedly in staying longer and going deeper to get the best understanding possible of many different perspectives of life. In order to do so, you have to speak the language. I am no polyglot, but have started to put more emphasis on learning languages in the last few years. I have learned Spanish, relearned French, and started in on Portuguese, German, Indonesian and Malagasy. When it comes to the third world, I am willing to help where they (and not I) decide they need it... in the first world, I am hoping to inspire and motivate people to live more engaging lives.

4 Replies to “Vang Vieng Closed Down – What Happened?”

  1. Isabell says:

    Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the great effort.

    1. Spam, not spam? Spam, not spam? Damn! Umm… You just barely touched the topic close enough that I’ll give you credit, so, erm… thanks.

  2. Gabor Kovacs says:

    We were there last year and enjoyed quite a lot that it was already after that they closed. In all of the bars they had Friends episodes on TV, but the ambience was much better than it must have been years before. The natural surroundings are absolutely amazing there. Actually the locals told us that the Australian government asked the local one to close it down as most of the people who died there were from Australia…

    1. Hi Gabor,

      That’s great to hear. I haven’t been back since it’s been closed down, but was compelled to write about it since the information acquired from other travelers implied that my other two posts on Vang Vieng were out of date.

      Very glad to hear that it’s returned to the charming little town that it once was, and thanks for the info regarding the Australian govt. 🙂

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