The three-day journey to Vang Vieng – the most charming place in Laos

I wish I could have spent much more time in Laos. In fact, we had to extend our journey in Laos for another three days to stay in Vang Vieng, because frankly, the stories about this place attracting tourists who acted as dickheads and it looks more like a party town than anything else, we must say that we don’t like this very much. A funny night out for us…

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A charming corner of Vang Vieng in Laos

I wish I could have spent much more time in Laos. In fact, we had to extend our journey in Laos for another three days to stay in Vang Vieng, because frankly, the stories about this place attracting tourists who acted as dickheads and it looks more like a party town than anything else, we must say that we don’t like this very much. A funny night out for us is no problem, but we are really not party-lovers. At the age of nearly 30, we don’t like to hangout with a bunch of 18 year olds anymore.

The peaceful sunset in Vang Vieng

You shouldn’t be too fault-finding about destinations before actual visit, and Vang Vieng has become one of the most favorite places we’ve ever experienced. You can waste a lot of things here if that’s what you want. Although the population here may be a bit younger than other places, this town still has a lot of fun. Due to severe repressions on all the craziness of tubing Vang Vieng’s done a pretty reasonable job at reinventing itself as an outdoorsy hippy nature orientated stop off whilst still welcoming those who want to party within reason.

The outdoor activities you should try here are cycling through the peaceful countryside, visiting spectacular waterfalls, exploring caves and kayaking along the river with the stunning mountain landscape. All of this has made Vang Vieng one of the best places we’ve ever been. Therefore, spending at least 3 days to experience Vang Vieng will always be a good thing if you are planning to travel to Laos. We could have spent a week exploring the local villages, visiting the caves and other natural beauty sites as well as enjoying many restaurants and bars.

Vang Vieng owns the pristine landscape

In addition to the amazing three days admiring the wonderful natural landscape in Vang Vieng, we also managed to score some embarrassingly gap yearish t shirts based on our tequila drinking abilities. It was on the night we said goodbye to some of our new friends we met on the bus from Luong Pha Bang, including an extremely funny X guy, a Scottish couple still dreamed of teaching English in Thailand and another guy who used to be a policeman in Rugby town – one of our interesting nights with a group of strangers who came to know us in just a few hours of chatting and drinking together.

So, based on our experience, there will always be interesting things and activities worth doing in Vang Vieng, whether you are a party lover or a nature lover. I think the best way to enjoy all the good things in this town is to combine a bit of both of these factors – there’s no denying that this town is the most friendly place we’ve ever visited, apart from its stunning natural beauty.

Nothing is great than walking along the small road of the field

We started the first day in Vang Vieng with a terrible headache before shaking them off with a walk to the local observatory. This is quite an interesting and strange experience when you climb to a place that is considered an observatory surrounded by more impressive peaks, but to be fair, it is quite a fainted climb but you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of Vang Vieng and the surrounding countryside when reaching the top. If you spend three days in Vang Vieng, there are places where you have to become a climber rather than a hiker.

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After climbing the mountain, we departed for one of the town’s Friends bars for being laid-back in a few hours. These places are so incredibly peculiar, you can sit on comfortable sofas and rest your back on them, just like in the TV episodes Friends. I guess this is one of the backpackers’ rest stops, a great place for travelers to gather and rest for a few hours.

Take a visit to Elephant cave in Laos

On the second day of the three-day journey in Vang Vieng, we took part in more exciting adventures with our new friends, including kayaking, tubing, caving and visiting the famous blue lagoon. You should definitely experience these activities as you just need to spend £11 on all-day activities including lunch. There are about a million travel agents in town that offer combined adventure tours for your choice. We also visited the Water Cave and Elephant Cave. These places are really worth watching – especially the Water Cave, which promises to be an interesting experience when you explore it with a tube.

We spent about an hour kayaking down the river, which was surely a great experience, and admiring the natural scenery around the place (Rob was probably the least relaxed person there because of the responsibility for rowing). Although the blue lagoon is not really as impressive as I expected as well as overcrowding – I think we should have turned up at the same time as three bus loads of Chinese holiday makers, it is a great place for you to spend few hours sunbathing, swimming and watching people around you.

On the last day of our three-day journey in Vang Vieng, we rented a bicycle to explore this place at an unprecedented low price, about £1.20 for all-day renting and this experience was really very exciting. The roads were a bit hard to access but the bikes were excellent quality, and to be honest, it was not really bad. We rode 12km round-trip  to the waterfall, perhaps the waterfall would be more impressive in the rainy season but the scenery was still beautiful and worth visiting.

Riding a bicycle to explore the hidden gems of Vang Vieng

After that, we kept going on for further 8km to the Mulberry Organic Farm, a lovely place with a goat farm, a traditional mud houses and a cafe in front of the farm with river views. Do not forget to try fresh mulberry or mulberry smoothie and the homemade goat cheese as all of them were quite amazing.

As mentioned above, we could have stayed in Vang Vieng for more than 3 days if we afford more time. We even found out that normal things like wifi and food challenged our expectations and they were really way better than what we expected. The locals are incredibly friendly – from the French guest house owner who served red wine, cheese and biscuits to the Laotian tour guide who sang for us during the bus waiting and told us about his surname in Bangkok – we met so many enthusiastic and humorous friends during the trip, everyone seemed to just want to chat and learn about each other as much as possible.

The riverside bars were also attractive spots, which scattered along the river bank and are built over the water on stilts. They are, of course, beautiful and peaceful places for you to relax and enjoy a couple of Beer Lao. The town is quite small, but it is surrounded by beautiful limestone mountains, rustic farms; caves, rivers and lagoons that lurk in old forests. We look forward to being able to return to this place as soon as possible so we can explore more interesting spots and make a trekking trip. If you are planning to travel in Laos, never miss Vang Vieng.

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27 thoughts on “The three-day journey to Vang Vieng – the most charming place in Laos

  1. My boyfriend and I are spending just under five weeks travelling around Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I was looking at stopping in Vang Vieng but know it has a bad reputation for its drunken partying etc. Having said that the scenery looks stunning. Do you think it is worth stopping if we don’t intend to take part in the partying or would we not enjoy it?

  2. I do not know why people persist in dredging up 5 year old information. Yes VV is wort a visit for its stunning scenery. I was there 2 weeks ago and it is becoming a bit of an adventure playground with balooning and light plane flying.

  3. My least favorite place of all of SE Asia. The only problem is, the trip from Vientiane to LP is too long. So you may want to stop over one night. I just finished this trip and can tell you I hated VT and VV. I loved LP and that clearly is the only city worth visiting after my recent trip. VV was a super let down. If you wanted my advice, the only way to fix or do this , and the way I would do it, is to make the trip from Chiang Mai Thailand to LP by plane and then go back to Thailand after that visit. Forget the rest of Laos, I really did not enjoy it, and I am a very frequent traveller of SE Asia… Spend most your time in Vietnam and Cambodia, 5-6 weeks is not even enough for these two countries really.

  4. LP is very nice, so VV looks poor compared to it, but what’s great about VV is the natural setting. Agreed that as a town it looks dumpy. VT has many things to see, so your criticism is unfair.

  5. Well , you certainly haven’t had a great time in Laos, but clearly many people do so you are not being overly helpful with your subjective “it is not worth it” summary. A friend of mine listed VV as her favourite place from a two month trip across Asia so we are all different it seems. From the pictures alone, it looks stunning, even if that is all there is there.

  6. Thank you . I still intend to go to Vang Vieng, and yes the Scotsman has always been very helpful on here and the other forums and has a non- judgemental and more patient tone which sits better with me.

  7. Vang Vieng was one of my favourite places in Laos – definitely worth a couple of days. There’s plenty to do that doesn’t involve partying and the scenery is really nice. I found it to be a very laid-back town

  8. The above are not very helpful postings! Is VV a place worth staying for a couple of nights for the nature, scenery if travelling VT to LP? Or is it better just to fly into LP and spend the time there? Seems both are very different BUT I would love to understand if it is a ‘must see’ in Laos? Somebody help please!

    1. I would not say it’s a “must see” but if travelling from VTE north then I would say it’s a “should see”. The scenery is great, you can also do tubing or kayaking, visit caves and cycle or walk around the countryside.

    2. Yes best to try, if you don’t like just move on, I prefer Nong Khiaw which is about 3.5 hours from Luang Prabang, less tourists than VV and different atmosphere.

  9. It has changed alot. As of writing there are more Asian tourists, mostly Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Thais. You’ll see Europeans but very small compare to the Koreans. I’m a driver I know. 🙂

  10. Hi, Me and my bf are deciding if Loas is worth going to. Please, if you have the time, could you elaborate on your opinions of Loas – we basically have enough time to do Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos (2 but not all 3). Any thoughts would be super helpful!

  11. One man’s dump is another’s treasure. Laos is a 3rd world country so some places are going to appear kind of dumpy. You go to Laos for nature not towns.

  12. My choice would be Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in that order. The reason i put Cambodia last is because once you have seen Angkor and Phnom Penh there is not too many other ATTRCATIONS AND THE COUNTRY IS TOO FLAT. lOVE THE MOUNTAINS IN lAOS.

  13. We onlt visitd Luang Prabang having heard that Ventiane wasn’ very interesting and we didN’t feel Vang was for us because of its drunken party vibe.. It is a very long way from Ventienne to Luang Prabang so, despite our 2 months in Vietname, Cambodia and 5 days in Luang Prabang, we felt the road trip didn’t justify a visit. Enjoy your trip

    1. Thanks , if we’re in Laos we would probably still head there but maybe cut our time there, but on the other hand Luang Prabang from what I’ve read has become very touristy since we were last there so that might also have lost it’s appeal for us.

      1. Of course I’m sure it’s more crowdy than 5 years ago but I wouldn’t really say it’s very touristy. You see tourists but the city is not really packed with them. And if you compare Luang Prabang with VV it’s like half less people in LP. Seems like you know some special cities/countries in Asia with less tourist. Would love to know! We’ve been already thinking where to go next 🙂

        1. Starting to think we might skip our 2.5 days in VV and bump Nong Kiaow up to to 3.5 days and add a day or two to Luang Prabang, going from 4.5 (inc two day trek) to 5.5 or 6.5 ish days.

  14. I’m in VV now. Must admit I was disappointed by the town as we drove in and then had first walk through. Very much a backpacker town, dusty streets lined with super cheap quality clothes, drugs openly for sale in bars, noisy buggies for hire every second shop. I’m not one for organised tours but we decided to book one today in order to see some sights and then leave – it was fantastic! Tour included zip lining, tubing through a water cave, kayaking and a visit to a blue lagoon (could have skipped the lagoon, way too busy there) We are staying in a run down hotel on the river and the view is amazing. Is it worth seeing Vang Vieng? Yes. Spend a night or two here on the way to LP (where you can easily spend many more)

  15. I’ve benefited a lot from discussions and even debates in several thread here, including one I started, but I’m left with one question: How noisy is Vang Vieng? Having said that, the reviews of VV-based hotels tend to indicate lots of bar noise, especially from bars across the river from lots of of hotels, from the afternoon well into the evening and even longer on weekends. How loud and long do such bars tend to go, and do folks find that they really interfere with the time otherwise spent eating/relaxing/hanging out at hotels and guest houses? If it is really noisy, I guess one option is to stay a bit out of town, but ideally I’d like to be in a place along the river with a nice view…if it’s fairly quiet. Thanks for any advice on this.

  16. It has been a while since my last visit and i stayed on the other side of the river in a peaceful place and were not disturbed by any noise, However if you cross the bridge and go to the right there was a huge party area there which seemed to be very noisy of you are staying in that area, but things may have changed by now

  17. Aside from the relatively small bar scene, the main concern regarding noise could be construction sites as the tourism scene grows and new hotels come in. Maybe keep your accommodation/location flexible during your stay.

  18. The north end of the town is where most of the party noise seems to be. If you stay off the main road in the south you should not get much noise. Also the river is small and shallow, you don’t get motorboats going up and down. I find it useful to look at the negative reviews this often highlights any problems, some are not valid but its a quick way of checking. No need to stay out of town. I stayed down near the southern bridge, very little noise at night but note you have to pay a toll to cross that bridge.

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