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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.