Anthony Bourdain Explores the Dark Hidden History of Laos
History changes as you move around the world.
On Sunday night’s episode of "Parts Unknown," Anthony Bourdain delves into a little-known part of American history, exploring the country of Laos and its “Secret War.”
In the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. pummeled Laos with 270 million cluster bombs. It’s estimated that 80 million of these bombs failed to detonate and are still buried in the Laotian countryside.
Bourdain spends much of the episode investigating the darker history of U.S. involvement, going out into the countryside to help a bomb squad detonate unexploded ordnances (UXOs).
But he also dives into tradition, eating imperial Lao cuisine at the Ban Lao Hotel (former CIA headquarters during the Secret War) and participating in Boun Ok Phansa, a colorful festival that celebrates the end of Buddhist lent.
Travelers who want to experience Laos’s hidden history for themselves can make like Bourdain and rent a motorbike to explore the capital of Vientiane and the Laotian countryside. It’s one of the best countries for solo travelers thanks to its preservation of history and peaceful lifestyle. Laos has also been named one of the best up-and-coming spots for Asian culture.
The Mekong River is the lifeline of Laos. Restaurants and temples are set all along the river’s bank. Travelers should be sure to take a riverboat tour up and down the historic river, making a stop at Wat Xieng Thong, a temple that dates back to the 16th century.
Foodies can tour the diverse culinary scene in the ancient royal capital of Luang Prabang. Then head to Ock Pop Tok for beautiful, handwoven Laotian textiles to bring back home.
"Parts Unknown" airs Sunday night on CNN at 9 p.m. ET.