Backpackers shun Vangvieng in Laos
- Published: 11 Oct 2013 at 10.09
- Online news:
Western backpackers are turning their backs on the previously highly popular Vangvieng in Laos after authorities closed "bars and swings" along the Xong River in a crackdown on sales of drugs and other illicit products.
Around 150 kilometres north of Vientiane is the popular tourist destination of Vangvieng. (File photo by Peerawat Jariyasombat)
The provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department has admitted the decline in the number of Western visitors, mainly backpackers, whose numbers previously domoinated the town, since the crackdown last year, the Vientiane Times reported on Friday.
The riverside town was famous for making opium, marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms available for tourists.
Laos has tried to change the image of the town, located on Road 13 between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Vangvieng’s beautiful scenery by the river has made it famous with tourists breaking their journey between the new and old capitals.
Vangvieng is about 150 kilometres from Vientiane.
“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,” Bounpan Phomavong, head of the tourism office under the department, was quoted as saying. The change was not easy, Mr Boupan added.
However, as the number of Westerners has dropped, visitors from Japan, China and South Korea are on the rise, making up for the loss. Asian tourists now dominate Vangvieng, the department said.
The changing trend posed a new problem as tourists from Asia did not favour cheap accommodation and preferred staying at more comfortable places, it added.