Vang Vieng may be known for its cheap booze and wild parties, but things are quickly changing in this small town in northern Laos. After government crackdowns and arrests a few years ago shut down most of Vang Vieng's wildest bars and clubs, locals feel as if Vang Vieng is slowly beginning to regain its soul and culture from before it became known as a backpacker's haven.
Today, Vang Vieng is becoming more well-known for its adventure travel and eco tourism than for its parties. Wile most of the town's attractions are located along the Nam Song River, there's a quieter cultural side to the town as well. Check out these two beautiful Buddhist temples located along Vang Vieng's main road for a look at the spiritual side of Vang Vieng.
The small and beautiful Buddhist temple Wat Kang is located right in the center of Vang Vieng along the main road and just past the K-Mart minimart. Wat Kang is a small temple, but it is colorful and atmospheric.
Often overlooked, Wat Kang is located in a field surrounded by amazing mountain scenery. There are several beautiful Buddha statues, including a large seated Buddha and a reclining Buddha.
There is no entry fee to visit Wat Kang, and it's almost always quiet and peaceful. Most foreign visitors tend to give Vang Vieng's temples a miss, meaning you might have the whole temple to yourself - along with a monk or two! It's a beautiful way to experience a bit of Lao culture in a town that has been suffering the "backpacker curse" and is struggling to recover some of its past charm.
A few hundred meters down the road, you'll come across the gates to Wat That, another serene and quiet temple in the center of Vang Vieng. Like Wat Kang, Wat That has no entry fee.
The temple is built around an old stone chedi, or stupa, which houses a Buddhist holy relic. Although the surrounding temple buildings are fairly new, the chedi is much older, a remnant of an ancient temple built on the site.
Though these two temples are small, it's worth spending an hour or two exploring both on foot. If you are lucky, you may be able to join in a Buddhist ceremony or receive a blessing from a monk. Just be sure to dress appropriately when visiting a temple - no sleveless shirts and no shorts for women.