'Tubing' bars in Laos shut down amid deaths !!
Authorities in Laos have shut down riverside bars popular among western tourists after a number of deaths and injuries linked to dangerous watersports.
Seven bars were closed along the Xong River in Vang Vieng after authorities found they were "serving tourists alcoholic drinks laced with opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms," the Vientiane Times reported.
Young backpackers have been flocking to Vang Vieng for its remote natural beauty and carefree, party-style atmosphere.
A favourite pastime has been floating down the river in inner tubes drinking local beer bought from riverside bars, or plunging into the muddy waters from ropes or makeshift timber platforms.
But according to reports, more than 20 tourists died in 2011 while visiting Vang Vieng.
The deaths are attributed to drownings and head injuries and all involved alcohol, hospital sources reportedly said.
Local authorities have launched a safety campaign with restaurants on the river, about 100km north of Vientiane, to inform tourists of what they "should and shouldn't do," Vang Vieng tourism office head Phouvieng Sikaisone was quoted as saying.
About 100 resorts, restaurants and bars do business along Xong River.