Lifestyle & Belief

Another Aussie tourist killed in Vang Vieng, Laos, a remote jungle party town


Lao people splash water on tourists during Songkran festivities on April 13, 2008, in Luang Prabang, Laos.


Chumsak Kanoknan

Two Aussie tourist deaths in a month, both in the same jungly, boozy party town in Laos: Vang Vieng.

Both the U.K. and Australian tabloids are overly fond of "Holiday in Hell"-style pieces describing well-meaning travelers sucked into some Southeast Asian third-world hell scenario.

But the recent scrutiny of Vang Vieng in the Aussie press is probably warranted.

Once a remote base of operations for CIA-backed guerrillas, the town is now a major backpacker destination. You go to Vang Vieng to rent an inner tube, float down a chocolate-brown river and, with the help of farmers-turned-bartenders set up along the shore, get totally plastered.

It's all great fun provided you aren't fatally injured or you don't go missing -- the fates of the two Aussie tourists, according to If travelers do run into trouble, they're a full five hours along potted roads to the Lao capital, Vientiane, which is not known for its world-class healthcare. Laos is among Southeast Asia's poorer countries and has the hospitals to match.