Beauty and the backpacking beast

First Thailand, then Vietnam and now Laos have become a must-do destination for backpackers in the far east. While Thailand has its islands and Vietnam spectacular bays, Laos’ main asset is its dramatic landscape – and good, cheap beer!

Backpackers’ favoured combination of extreme sports and excessive drinking come together in the resort of Vang Vieng. The town is famous for waterbourne pub crawls where participants ride the rapids between waterside bars on inflatable inner tubes.

But there are concerns that if action isn’t taken, the natural beauty of Laos could be destroyed by intensive tourism development. In a recent issue of the magazine Planning, I wrote about a project seeking to ensure that one of Laos’ up-and-coming destinations is protected from the negative effects of tourism development.

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