Vang Vieng is the wrong city to visit if you're looking for traditional Laotian culture, but if you're a party-seeking twentysomething, it's the place to be. Consider that the most popular activity at this tiny farm town turned backpacker refuge is to float on an inner tube down the Nam Song River, past the slew of waterfront bars and guest houses that continue to pop up like mushrooms (an appropriate metaphor).
Outdoor adventure: What originally drew visitors to Vang Vieng is the remarkable jagged hilly landscape around the town in the verdant Nam Song Valley. Cave-filled limestone hills jut from the landscape like shark’s teeth, punctuated by waterfalls and hidden lakes. Local outfitter Green Discovery leads rock climbs on the many routes nearby.
Hostel: Clean, comfortable Jammee Guest House offers dorm rooms for $4 per night, and private rooms with private bathrooms starting at $8 a night.