At the risk of sounding old and not very hip: NO, I did not get drunk tubing down the Nam Sang River or rave all night long at the river-front bars high on shrooms or pot. Famous for shoe-string backpackers who can get there on a bus from Vientiane for 40,000 kip ($5), rent a room for next to nothing, eat on even less, and risk getting doped up drinking exotic concoctions, THAT is not the Vang Vieng we experienced. It’s unfortunate how sometimes the sordid reputation of a travel destination can obscure the natural surrounding beauty of a place, much worse how often Vang Vieng appears in the headlines because of drowned drunk tourist.

Not all hope is lost, however, since the government has been cracking down on establishments that have been a bit too liberal with their mushroom and weed pizzas, and recently, some up-scale establishments have popped…

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