Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng for many travelers is simply a piece of heaven on earth. Surrounded by scenic landscape ranging from mountains to rivers and limestone cliffs to rice fields, this small and scenic town offers a long list of interesting attractions. The Nam Song River is where you will witness the famous tubing – and young travellers sitting in large inner tubes floating downriver is a common sight in Vang Vieng. Actually it has become a large part of the reason why many young people come here in the first place. The well-known Tham Poukham Cave features the ‘Blue Lagoon’, a nice spot to swim and swing lazily on a rope, while Tham Norn is among one of the biggest caves in Vang Vieng. If time allows, make a stop at the local market to catch a gimpse of everyday life in a typical Lao rural area.

Vang Vieng is an amazing place to come anytime of the year. Between November and February the skies are blue and the sun is shining, it can get a little chilly in the mornings and evenings. During the months of March, April and May are the hottest times, especially in April when the Laos New Year falls. This 3-4 day festival involves ceremonies and thousands of happy people splash water on each other to cool off in the summer heat. The Nam Song, especially Tam Lom is packed full of local and foreign tourists eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. In June and July the air becomes more humid and bursts of rain occur on some days.

August and September sees the rain coming thick and fast, but not always a bad thing, it’s the best time of year to kayak and tubing is great fun with the river whipping tubers down river. In October time the rain starts to retreat and humidity drops, then the cycle starts all over.

The Blue Lagoon
Located just a few kms outside of town, the Blue Lagoon, is one of the best swimming holes in Laos.  If you're feeling fit you can rent a mountain bike in town and ride there, but be warned - the roads are unsealed, bumpy and often either very dusty or muddy.  The easy option is to get a tuk tuk. It's worth the trip though. The Blue Lagoon is a serene natural paradise. The river flows gently out of the jungle into a brilliant blue lagoon. A tree grows over the deepest part of the river and the local kids love to show off by jumping from the highest branch of the tree. It's a lovely spot to spend the afternoon relaxing with friends, or hike up the stairs behind the lagoon to explore the Tham Phu Kham cave. 

Vang Vieng for many travelers is simply a piece of heaven on earth. Surrounded by scenic landscape ranging from mountains to rivers and limestone cliffs to rice fields, this small and scenic town offers a long list of interesting attractions. The Nam Song River is where you will witness the famous tubing – and young travellers sitting in large inner tubes floating downriver is a common sight in Vang Vieng.

Actually it has become a large part of the reason why many young people come here in the first place. The well-known Tham Poukham Cave features the ‘Blue Lagoon’, a nice spot to swim and swing lazily on a rope, while Tham Norn is among one of the biggest caves in Vang Vieng. If time allows, make a stop at the local market to catch a gimpse of everyday life in a typical Lao rural area.

THINGS TO DO

The Blue Lagoon
Located just a few kms outside of town, the Blue Lagoon, is one of the best swimming holes in Laos.  If you're feeling fit you can rent a mountain bike in town and ride there, but be warned - the roads are unsealed, bumpy and often either very dusty or muddy.  The easy option is to get a tuk tuk. It's worth the trip though. The Blue Lagoon is a serene natural paradise. The river flows gently out of the jungle into a brilliant blue lagoon. A tree grows over the deepest part of the river and the local kids love to show off by jumping from the highest branch of the tree. It's a lovely spot to spend the afternoon relaxing with friends, or hike up the stairs behind the lagoon to explore the Tham Phu Kham cave. 

River Tubing
There are a few places in town to rent inner tubes, and they usually include a tuk tuk ride about 10mins out of town, further up the river. You'll have the day to float down the river surrounded by the beautiful karst mountains.  There are still a few bars along the river who'll be more than happy to throw you a rope and pull you in if you need some refreshment.  

Cave Tubing
Head to Tham Nam (Water Cave) for a different tubing experience! You'll sit in a tube in total darkness with only a rope to guide you through the flooded cave system. The trip takes about 20mins. Your Stray Guide can help you sign up for a local tour where you'll get a headlamp and an inner tube. 

Rock Climbing
The rocky Karst Mountains that surround Vang Vieng are the perfect setting for some epic rock climbing! There are a number of tour providers that offer experiences for first-timers right through to old pros!

Kayaking 
Explore the Namsong river by Kayak.  There a variety of tour options available including some with rapids and one that will almost take you to Vientiane!

Volunteer
For those ready to get their hands dirty, consider a stay at the SAELAO project - a farm run by a local Vang Vieng resident where you can volunteer teaching English, doing garden work and helping with community projects. 

Party!
Start your night at the Irish Pub or Jaidee's bar, then head to the Moon Pub (on the other side of Vang Vieng's disused airplane runway) when all the bars start to close at 1 and 2 and party with the locals. Or check out the Jungle Project's weekly Jungle Party every Friday night just outside of town.  Starting at 10pm and finishing around 3-4am this is one of the best places to get your house music fix. The jungle parties have grown from just a few people in someone's backyard in 2011 to a proper party event.   

THINGS TO KNOW

Vang Vieng is an amazing place to come anytime of the year. Between November and February the skies are blue and the sun is shining, it can get a little chilly in the mornings and evenings. During the months of March, April and May are the hottest times, especially in April when the Laos New Year falls. This 3-4 day festival involves ceremonies and thousands of happy people splash water on each other to cool off in the summer heat. The Nam Song, especially Tam Lom is packed full of local and foreign tourists eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. In June and July the air becomes more humid and bursts of rain occur on some days.

August and September sees the rain coming thick and fast, but not always a bad thing, it’s the best time of year to kayak and tubing is great fun with the river whipping tubers down river. In October time the rain starts to retreat and humidity drops, then the cycle starts all over.

GETTING THERE AND AWAY

Buses from Vientiane to Vang Vieng:

The local bus leaves from Da Laat Sao (The morning market) bus station. They leave at 6am, 7am, 9am, 11am, 12.30 pm and 2pm. It takes about 4 to 5 hours for the journey and costs 40,000 kip. There are also Songthaews that leave from the Songthaew station north of the city, which go every 20 minutes. When arriving in Vang Vieng the buses and Songthaews will stop by the side of the airfield so make sure you get off here, the bus then goes 3km north to the bus station.
There are also a few Mini Buses that leave from near to the bus station and leave when they are full. The journey should cost 60,000 kip.
The Thavonsouk Bus Company and Malany Bus Company leaves from opposite the National Cultural Hall at 10am and 2pm. The journey for both these companies takes about 3 and a half hours. Tickets can be booked through many of the guesthouses or tour operators in Vientiane. Tickets cost 60, 000 kip.

Buses from Vang Vieng to Vientiane.

The local bus leaves from the Norhtern Bus Station, you can eiter catch the bus from there or by the side of the road next to the old air field. They leave at 5.30am, 6am, 6.30am, 7am, 12.30 pm and 2pm. It takes about 4 to 5 hours for the journey and costs 40, 000 kip. There are also Songthaews available from the bus station or the airfield which leave for Vientiane every 20 mins or so, the cost is 40, 000 kip.
The Thavonsouk Bus Company and Malany Bus Company leave at 10am and 1.30pm. They have a free pick up service from the guesthouse. The journey for both these companies takes about 3 and a half hours. Tickets can be booked through many of the guesthouses or tour operators in Vang Vieng and cost 60, 000 kip.
 
Mini Buses can also be booked through tour operators in Vang Vieng. They leave at 9am and cost 70, 000 kip. 
 
From Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng:

Mini Buses are available leaving at 9am and 2pm. They take about 6 and a half hours and arrive into the Northern Bus Station in Vang Vieng. When arriving to the Vang Vieng Bus Station its a 3km tuk tuk ride (10, 00 kip) or 30 minute walk to the town centre. 
There is a VIP bus also leaving at 9.30 am.
Bus tickets are available in Luang Prabang from guesthouses or tour operators. Minibuses should cost between 100, 000 and 120, 000. The VIP bus is 100, 000.

From Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang:

Mini Buses are available leaving at 9am and 2pm. They take about 6 and a half hours and arrive into the centre of Luang Prabang.
There is a large VIP bus also leaving at 9.30 am. There is also a night bus that leaves at 8pm from the bus station.
Bus tickets are available in Vang Vieng from guesthouses or tour operators. 
Minibuses should cost between 100, 000 and 120, 000. The VIP bus is 100, 000.


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