Regulations Haven’t Stopped Drunken Tubing in Laos

by Admin on September 17, 2012

Photo by ellenm1

After a number of deaths from tourists drinking and tubing down Laos’ Vang Vieng River, the government has been forced to tighten regulations.  Authorities from the capital have closed more than two dozen of the riverside and late-night island bars that are pit-stops for the tubing tourists.

However, tourists have continued to fill the river and drink while doing so. One bar has stopped playing music but is still serving drinks. Other places operating on the banks of Eskis are allowing only takeaway beer.

Vang Vieng has become a hotspot for backpackers with slack rules and a range of jerry-built bars. Rules that apply to Vientiane’s bars, such as closing at midnight, have not been enforced here.

It is estimated that up to 500 tubes are hired for 55,000 Lao Kip (USD$6) during the high season.

This year, six tourists have died, and it is believed that more than 20 died last year of alcohol or drug related activities on the river.

After reports about the many deaths and pressure from development partners the prime minister visited Vang Vieng. Police also arrived to enforce closures due to local tourism police not upholding regulations.

The new regulations are not posted in town but read “You must wear a life jacket.” Bar owners and various locals say the restrictions and shut-downs have been bad for business and placing a negative effect on the tourism community.

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