Vang Vieng, Laos
Why it's controversial: The riverside village of Vang Vieng, in central Laos, has an unsavory reputation as a backpacker death trap. During its deadliest year in 2011, the tiny village hospital recorded a staggering 27 tourist deaths linked to a dangerous combination of drugs, alcohol, and river rafting. Though it's cleaned up its act in recent years, reports of backpackers dying in a Laotian paradise continue to trickle in.
Instead go to: Muang Ngoi Neua, a paradisiacal Laotian town along the Nam Ou River, retains its ethnic character and offers numerous opportunities for kayaking and river exploration.