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Don’t Stop the Party

Posted: October 10, 2012 by daniellaa91 in Global News

After six tourist deaths this year, Laotian authorities shut down several bars, restaurants and tube rental syndicates in the party town of Vang Vieng.

As a result, the amount of tubers has drastically reduced from an average of 500 people per day to just 100. Reports include accusations of “serving tourists alcoholic drinks laced with opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms”, providing “happy menus” selling drugs to tubers, and endangering tourists with unsafe water equipment.

However, the reports are generally fabricated or false. The area of the river where the tubing takes place is a ten-minute tuk tuk ride out of the town. Having recently visited Laos, and the Nam Song River, I can confirm that there is no means of buying drinks containing any drug other than alcohol where the tubing takes place, therefore they are certainly not handed to you. Additionally, there are no restaurants on that part of the river, and therefore no means of purchasing items off a ‘happy menu’. Furthermore, the water equipment is only unsafe as a result of an individual’s defiance of common sense. Each activity station is manned and controlled to ensure it is used appropriately and safely.

The media appears to have instilled fear in travelers and parents through the hype they have created regarding the tubing. Emotive language such as “disaster magnet” creates false images of Vang vieng for those who have not seen it for themselves.


Image Two


Image One

The above images were used in articles to demonstrate the lack of safety in the tubing. Both are out of date and being used to portray something that does not exist. Image Two is clearly not recent because there are fewer bars on the river than there are now. Further more, two people cannot use the equipment at the same time as the stations are manned, as proved in the video below. Image One depicts a lethal-looking apparatus, however, in reality, this contraption no longer exists in the tubing at all. It is evident the media are using out of date material to represent the activity in a more interesting and scandalous manner.

A bartender in Laos pours his drinks in front of his customer, and is clearly not able or wanting to spike it



It is devastating that young people have died in the tubing, and something so dreadful can obviously not be undone. However, those are in a minute minority and this does not reflect the other 3500 people per week who safely enjoy the activities on the Nam Song. It is disappointing the media need to scandalize and discredit the tubing to create such a hype, but it is completely unnecessary for it to be shut down. It is a shame that so many more will never have the chance to experience Vang Vieng based on the irresponsibility of a few.


This video proves that the activities are manned, and users are made to wait in order to use it safely.


Samantha Dax on Laos