Laos Travel & Tours

Offer all Travel Tours & Hotels information of Vang Vieng, Vang Viang.

 

Vang Vieng, Vang Viang is a tiny riverside town in Laos.

Once no more than a bus changing station on the long haul between Vientiane at the Thai border and the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, it has managed to become a destination in its own right. Still not much more than three streets and a bus station, the main attractions are the river, laid back countryside and cave-filled rock formations. And to anyone who's been travelling anywhere is South East Asia, you've no doubt heard about "Tubing," an activity that dominates the town and it's visitors. Originally opened up by hedonistic backpackers, the city's predominant ambiance is one of lethargy by day and debauchery by night: tourists sprawl out in the pillow-filled restaurants, termed "TV Bars," watching re-runs of Friends and Family Guy episodes until the sun goes down, and then party heavily until the early hours. Nevertheless, there is a growing number of more sedate foreign sightseers.

Get in Vang Vieng, Vang Viang

Vang Vieng is on Highway #13 between Vientiane and Luang Prabang - by bus (road and bus conditions permitting) about 6-8 hours from Luang Prabang, around 3-4 hours from Vientiane. Tourist buses leave from Vientiane at 10:00 and 13:30 (in theory - they tend to wait until full before departing) and cost 45,000 kip, including pick-up from your hotel (Jan 2009). A minibus leaves at 09:00 and costs US$5. The tourist bus and minibus to Luang Prabang costs 90,000 kip and 105,000 kip (Jan 2009) respectively. Tickets can be purchased at almost every guesthouse.

Get around in Vang Vieng, Vang Viang

From the bus station:

Tourist buses will drop you off either at the old airstrip (from the Vietnam war, it's now just a giant gravel pad) or in front of a hotel on the main street in town. The airstrip is directly behind the main street, so in either case there is no need to take a tuk tuk or cyclo if you plan to stay in the main area of town. The island and bungalows along the river are about a 10 minute walk away.

Around town:

Vang Vieng is so small that everything is easily reachable by foot. If you want to venture outside of town, bicycles are widely available and can be rented from hotels or local businesses. You should not have to pay over 10,000 kip for a day's rental. For the more adventurous, motorcycle rentals are also widely available. It's quite easy to rent a motorcycle from a local business for only 30,000 kip for the entire day. Hotels will tend to charge 40,000.

Several tuk tuks are also scattered around town. $1 USD per person will be plenty to get to anywhere within Vang Vieng, and about $3 USD per person to reach more remote sites.
What to do in Vang Vieng, Vang Viang

* Tubing down the river, no booking needed (go to the bank and walk towards the river, the villagers have two companies in cartel alternating the service approx 100 meter from the river). From around 9:00 to 13:00 is reasonable to go because the sun hides behind the mountains around 15:00 and it gets very cold on the river. Look at the magnificent view of the mountains rising directly beside the river. Many beer and other pit stops along the way. Also, try the diving stop and the swing. Some dry bags may not be of the best quality, often digital cameras get ruined by faulty dry bags rented to tourists, so beware and if in doubt, don't bring your camera. Tubes have to be back by six pm to get the deposit back, and in winter it gets a bit cold from 4pm, so start early to make the most of drinking your way down the river. Ride at least one rapid before starting the party to avoid disturbing guests visiting the Organic Farm. Some westerners has the job of promoting bars. The party scene has taken over and the owners use humongous loudspeakers, effectively blocking out any singing of birds. Beware of tubes getting stolen while stopping at bars, you may lose your deposit and the ride down. 55.000kip + 60,000 kip deposit, Dry bag 20,000. (18.9333,102.4500) edit
* Tham Poukham - Blue Lagoon, (7 km west from town, maps provided where you can rent bicycles). 8:00-18:00. A spring fed lagoon at the bottom of "Golden Cave". Nice place to relax, swim and play on the rope swing. The waters are inhabitated with a few hundred carp fish that will eat locally sold fish food right out of your hand. The cave above requires a modest 100m hike up a make shift bamboo ladder. Once inside, there is a short walk to the Sleeping Golden Buhdda and glimmering stalactites about 300m further inside. 10,000 kip. edit
* Lao-style steam sauna.
* Kayaking the river. This covers the same part of the river as tubing (and a more untouched part further upriver).

* Movies and the TV-series Friends is shown at many restaurants and seem to be very popular with the younger party crowd.

* Playing on the very high swings over the river and sliding on a slide. Please be careful - perforated eardrums, broken ribs and permanent hearing damage are common injuries resulting from going the wrong way and also foot injuries hitting rocks and consequently also death when going head first or falling off platforms when drunk. The local hospital is not equipped to diagnose or treat these serious injuries - Vientiane has the closest (if spartan) ENT facility but no English speaking specialists, so you may have to head all the way to Bangkok for treatment. You might have to rely on other tourist for rescue.

* 3km north of Vang Vieng, close to where the main tubing run commences, there's an organic farm. It is noise free until about 11:00 and again when the last revelers go back to town at about 18:00. The organic farm has dormitory, budget and more luxurious rooms for rent. They teach the village kids, build mud brick buildings, learn/teach farming, eat organic food and go to sleep at 22:00.

* Internet. The local internet cartel charges $US2 an hour for internet, however, the bandwidth is very good for Laos and they encourage customers to use it! (meaning downloading mp3's and the such).

* Rock climbing. There are excellent walls to everyone from first timers to pros. The day trips (includes guide, all gear, lunch, transport etc.) starts from 20USD. Contact Adam (tel : 856 205010832 email : stclimber@yahoo.com) or visit by the shop at the northern end of the main street.
* Hill and Cave trek, (Cross a footbridge over the river, follow the signs and white flags (garbage bags) on sticks through the field). Across the river a 1.5km path marked by white flags cuts through the fields towards the limestone mountains. The smallest hill has very rickety ladders (read: dangerous) to aid in climbing to the top. Halfway up the mountain is a cave. Another 1km along the path past the mountain goes through a small forest and arrives at a cave. A few sleepy Laotians guard the cave's entrance and a hand painted sign says that guides are mandatory. It costs extra to go to the lagoon in the cave, and the guides will let you know that "tipping extra is ok". 10,000 kip for the hill, 15,000 kip for the cave, 30,000 to go to the cave lagoon. edit

 Buy

Prices for tourist packages are quoted in US dollars. Restaurants, hotels, and pretty much everything else is priced in kip. Most places will accept kip, US dollars and Thai baht.

There are two ATM's that now take all major credit cards but are known for running out of cash. Some tourists have reported only being able to use cards on the Maestro (Mastercard) network.

The Lao Development Bank changes money at good rates and processes cash advances. BCEL will also do cash advances on credit cards.

The small shops scattered throughout Vang Vieng sell the standard assortment of snacks, trinkets, sunglasses, and bathing suits.
Where to Eat in Vang Vieng, Vang Viang.

The numerous TV restaurants all have similar, if not photocopied with the name changed, menus. A selection of Lao, American, Italian, Chinese, and Thai, the food is fresh but often of indifferent quality and poorly executed. Entres average 20,000 - 40,000 kip.

For quick eats and late night snacks, numerous pancake and sandwich stalls dot the streets. 10,000 - 13,000 kip.

Be aware that many restaurants offer "happy" shakes and pizzas. While this may be obvious to many, any food or drink with the words "happy", "special" or "escatic" will contain an undetermined amount of marijuana or Magic Mushrooms.

* Organic Farm Cafe - original and interesting menu with excellent surprises like deep-fried mulberry leaves in honey (15 000 kip)

* DK3 - Milan Pizza - woodfired pizza

* Enjoy Restaurant - good pizza

* Bamboo Bar - Vegetarian buffet (in high season or on request by ten people or more.)

Where to drink in Vang Vieng, Vang Viang.

* Enjoy Mojitos with style, served in bamboo with bamboo straws as well as wild honey whiskey in bamboo shots at the Bamboo bar, sitting in the tree house amongst bamboo or on the riverside on the center of the party Island.

* Cheap buckets overfilled with cheap whiskey (because Lao whiskey is cheaper than the soft drinks) and humongous loudspeakers polluting each other and the valley at Bucket and Rock in the south of the party island and in the Joker, Sunset and Smile in the north.

More chilled in the north south passage between the loud bars at Bamboo and Rainbow.

* On the riverside, Jaidee's Bar offers a chilled out atmosphere for those looking to escape the loud music and rowdy club atmosphere of the island bars. Has great prices during Happy Hour (6-10) including whisky buckets for 10,000k. Somehow manages to keep open when everyone else has to close fearing fines from the police.

* The newly instituted projector large screen PS2 Pro Evo competitions on the main street are a good distraction on a rainy evening.

* Many bars screen movies during the evening (mostly episodes of Friends but some show the Simpsons/Family Guy as well). Buy dinner, stay for the movie and order a milkshake & some food.

* Be prepared to listen to a lot of Bob Marley (it's as if someone bought the complete Friends box set and Bob Marley Legend and burnt copies of them for the entire town)! If you get sick of it there is a "Jack Johnson" bar which plays something else.

* Lie on plastic mats by the river and drink Beer Lao. Some places will build small bonfires.

* Some bars near the river have DJs or at least loud music and an outdoor dance floor. This is the scene for people looking for a more raucous time.

* Please be aware of the "special" shakes which can contain Ganja or Magic Mushrooms. They are not a good idea while tubing...

* Although marijuana, mushrooms, opium and methamphetamines are freely available and advertised in Vang Vieng (all are illegal), there is also a large police presence. Plain clothed policemen frequently take unsuspecting tourists to the local police station for smoking a joint. The usual outcome of this involves having your passport seized until you cough up a hefty "fine", typically betweek 3-5 million Kip. Once the fine is paid however the matter is generally taken no further and the passport returned; however, the punishment will depend on the officer you are dealing with.

Hotel, Lodge, Guest House in Vang Vieng, Vang Viang for sleep.

There are now a couple of halfway-decent midrange "hotels" and attempts at boutique style residences.

Generally though, double rooms go for US$1-5, make sure you see the room (and bathroom!) before paying. More local, low-key (which is pretty low-key in Vang Viang to start with) places are by the market and more shiny set ups are on the main road. The party crowd tend to advocate choosing a bungalow on the island, but expect it to be quite noisy if you want to sleep during the night.

Most guesthouses have large TV-viewing areas, practically coated in the Southeast Asia signature triangular cushions, where they serve food. But be forewarned - you'll be hard pressed to find a place screening something other than "Friends".

* Babylon Guest House  - in the center of town at the start of the main bar street. With Free Wifi and Internet for guest and a downstairs bar & organic restraint. Politically incorrect jokes are a must and English speaking staff helpful. All rooms have hot showers en suite. Great roof terrace views.

* Champa Lao - best view of mountains, great massage, affordable tasty food.

* Phoudingdeang Organic farm (3km north of Vang Vieng) - peaceful & serene, an employer of orphans, mountain views. Simple short term rooms, long term residences in adobe houses.

* Greenview Bungalows and Restaurant (Mobile: 8560202128086, 5011679) Just across the road from the Phoudindeng Organic farm. Khamsone and his wife Sone offer comfortable clean bungalows with hot showers, great Lao food, and occasional campfires and singalongs. A great place to escape the noise of downtown. Bicycle and Motorbike rentals are also offered. Bungalows with double beds 70 000 Kip, other double rooms for 40 000 Kip

How to get out from Vang Vieng, Vang Viang.

Buses leave from the station in the morning and afternoon. VIP tourist (air-conditioned, genreally comfortable.) buses are easily booked from your hotel. If you are travelling to Vientianne, a 3 hour local bus (non air-conditioned, perfectly acceptable for short trips) departs several times a day for 36 000 Kip One Way

Another transportation option is on one of the day trips to Vientiane down the river by kayak. The trip should leave in the early morning, placing you in the capital by 6pm. For your belongings, dry bags are available or you can opt to place them in the accompanying van which will take them along. Expect to pay 170,000 - 220,000 kip but you may be able to find it for a cheaper price.

For more information of Laos visit http://wikitravel.org/en/Laos
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/  




 

 

 

 
Back to Laos photo Gallery | Laos Travel page | Add Url