COPE Visitor Centre
Cluster bombs © Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The COPE Visitor Centre can be a sobering reality-check for many tourists, but is definitely worth a visit. Statistically, Laos is the world's most bombed country, made so by a US precautionary policy during the Vietnam War. Essentially, the US military considered it unsafe for planes to land with unused ordinance, so they dropped their bombs over Laos. Many are unaware of this tragic and embarrassing aspect of the Vietnam War. Today, Laos still has a significant amount of unexploded ordinance (UXOs), particularly in rural areas along the border with Vietnam, where many residents have been victims. The COPE Visitor Centre does vital work in educating the public and tourists. It also provides help for those who have lost limbs or loved ones to bombs. The centre includes a gift shop and a selection of short films on Laos and UXOs. Visitors may have to request to see the films, but the staff are helpful and knowledgeable. As the centre isn't far out of town, many tourists hire bikes and cycle to it. Visitors will only need an hour to tour the place and explore an important aspect of the country's past and present. Also, anyone planning to travel off the beaten track in Laos should know how to recognise and react to UXOs.
Address: Boulevard Khou Vieng, Vientiane, Laos