After Luang Probang we spent a few nights in the backpacker city of Vang Vieng. Imagine a city set in the midst of beautiful limestone karsts and rivers. Fishermen cast their nets from their long river boats. Locals cross bamboo bridges to their island homes. Dozens of restaurants blast every season of “Friends” from multiple TVs all hours of the day. Every hangout is packed with tourists who waste their day sipping “happy” shakes and watching Joey and Rachel and the rest of their Friends get out of some crazy situations. It was not exactly our idea of paradise. We then bussed it to Vientiane, the Laos capital. Here we rented a 1967 Vespa to cruise the town. It was a fitting end to this peaceful country.
It is said that Laos is the most bombed country in the world. Between 1971 and 1973, it became helplessly involved in the largest bombing raid in US history as the North Vietnames sheltered their soldiers across the border in Laos. In these 2 years, more bombs fell in Laos than were dropped during all of WWII.
Yet, in spite of all this destruction, today they are a wonderful people who have begun to embrace capitalism and open their borders to investment and tourism. We loved Laos and give it an enthusiastic two thumbs up.