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Pornsak Na Nakorn / Vang Vieng / Laos

Vang Vieng may once have been known for its raucous backpacker bars, but a crackdown on the seedier side of tourism has returned the attention back where it belongs: the stunning natural landscape dotted with jungle-draped limestone karsts. Photographer PORNSAK NA NAKORN captured this sleepy image on the river.

Published on Dec 7, 2017


Vang Vieng

Given the natural beauty along the Nam Song River near a series of limestone cliffs, it's no surprise that Vang Vieng was a hit among backpackers after Laos opened up in the 1990s. Rafting, rock climbing and caving brought the first tourists, but the adventure-minded were soon outshouted by hard-partying tubers. Happily, the complexion of this town has changed in the past few years. Concerns revolving around foreign norms—read: bikinis and beer—have prompted a search for the more traditional. You can find it just north of town, for example, in a Lao market where local textiles and authentic food help provide an immersive taste. Tapping deeper into the local culture, Lao, Kmou and Hmong villages are now on many visitors' radars, while organic farms offer both fresh produce and a chance to stay overnight in a more traditional setting. Eco-tourism and volunteer vacations are more the norm. So, in lieu of a pint at an Irish pub, opt for a glass of organic mulberry wine direct from the farm. And toast to the Vang Vieng that's got its genuine groove back.


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