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Phonsavan, Laos

Craters Restaurant

Eat a meal surrounded by bomb fragments. 

Set on a major backpacking highway for Western tourists on the border between Laos and Vietnam, Craters definitely caters to its audience. There is everything on the menu, ranging from Asian specialties to American standbys like steak and pizza. Overall, Craters is not that remarkable as a restaurant. However, Craters is immediately set apart from other cheap eateries by the giant bomb shells flanking the patio seating.

For those who visit without any knowledge of history, the decor seems a bit off-putting, but with a little background, begins to make sense. The city of Phonsavan was absolutely pummeled during the Vietnam War. The American military was convinced Vietcong were escaping the country into Laos through Phonsavan. In response, American forces dropped 500,000 missiles onto the surrounding area, making it one of the most bombed places in the world.

In the aftermath of the war, people moved back to Phonsavan and began rebuilding, often using the remnants of bombs in their construction. Craters opened up, ironically to serve Western backpackers from the very country that left Phonsavan in ruins. Essentially, Craters is a kitschy exploitation restaurant, playing on the war-torn past of the city to either deliver a socially-conscious message, or bring in tourists desiring to be photographed in front of the restaurant.