Vang Vieng Town
One of the two star attractions of Laos is this small town of Vang Vieng (the other is of course the UNESCO Heritage Site of Luang Prabang in the north). It's a small town with one road running through it, and it's best covered by bicycle which I rented for US$2.
Backpackers lounging in cafe
I was surprised to see the cafes packed with western backpackers reclining on pillows watching episode after episode of the TV serial Friends.
An exciting outdoor activity in Vang Vieng, apart from lying almost comatose in the cafes watching VCDs, is tubing. They take you somewhere outside town, and you float back on a huge rubber tube on the river. During the rainy season, the river swells with water and it can be dangerous. In fact, a western backpacker drowned while tubing.
The hotels and guesthouses are excellent value. You can get a spotlessly clean room in a guesthouse with attached bathroom for only US$5.
Vientiane, the Lao capital, to Vang Vieng takes about 3 to 4 hours by van or bus.