Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vang Vieng - Vientiane

Vang Vieng is a tourism-oriented town in Laos, located in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the Nam Song river. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town.
The Nam Song River is a small river in Laos that flows through the town of Vang Vieng. It is a popular tourist destination as many people enjoy seeing the Laotian countryside while going down the river in the inner tube of a tractor tyre or in a kayak. The river is surrounded by striking karst rock formations. Upstream from Vang Vieng, numerous bars have been built on the river's banks to attract the tourists floating by. Nam Song River is connected to Nam Ngum Reservoir by Nam Song Diversion Dam.
One of the main features of the town is a long, mostly unused, airfield runway parallel to the road. It was used during the Vietnam War by the Air America's planes (the airstrip was then called "Lima site 6").
The town started to grow in the 1980s, due to the influx of backpackers. The opportunity for hiking and the laid-back atmosphere attracted more and more visitors.
Vang Vieng today is mainly a backpacker town. The main street is littered with guest houses, bars, restaurants, internet cafes and tour agencies. One of the main attractions of the town is inner tubing on the river and Kayaking. During the wet season, the river can be a series of raging rapids, but during the dry season, some of it is little more than a trickle. Climbing the limestone mountains is another popular activity.
The market is located five kilometres north of the town selling Lao textiles, household items and several stalls selling foodstuffs. The town is situated on the main north-south highway, Route 13 from Luang Prabang to the capital, Vientiane.
But the real attractions of the area are the scenery, the limestone hills and the numerous caves and caverns. Perhaps the most interesting is the Tham Phu Kham cave, half an hour from Vang Vieng by tuk-tuk or rented motorbike.
Tubing in Vang Vieng is popular. There are bars lining the shore of the Nam Song river that have swing ropes or water slides for the tubers to use as an attraction.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vang_Vieng
Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Vang_Vieng


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