I really love the fantastic scenery of Vang Vieng, Laos. The last time I was there was in June of 2009, and, as I posted then, I was quite loathe to return, due to the extreme frat/high school drunk-party atmosphere of the town. The backpacker crowd had taken over, completely lacking any respect for the local culture, running around half naked, noisy, and totally out of control. The laid-back vibe of Vang Vieng had disappeared, perhaps never to return.

Salvation has come, though, in a report posted on a Travefish blog. It seems that last August, the Lao authorities stepped in and closed the bars lining the area of the Nam Song River where most of the party crowd began their day by kayaking or tubing. They also shut down the all-night party spots, and most of the bars now close around midnight. The blog reports that

Vang Vieng is returning to its roots as a place where people came to chill out, have a couple of beers and take in the natural beauty of the surrounding area. If you were tossing up over whether to come or not because of Vang Vieng’s reputation, don’t deliberate any longer. Vang Vieng is now back on the map as a top spot for those seeking to experience the natural beauty of Laos and interact with the local people. But for those seeking a serious party — the party is over.

From my point of view, all I can say is Hallelujah!

My Lao traveling companion and good friend, Nai, has been having some family troubles lately. We had been planning to go to Phuket, Thailand, but with the troubles, he may, perhaps, want to travel somewhere that’s closer to his family. If that’s the case, perhaps we’ll head north to Vang Vieng rather than to Phuket. I don’t know yet if our plans will change, but I’d be quite happy to return to Vang Vieng.