Disclaimer: We’re over 30 and we’re not into the ‘party scene’. You may be under 30 and feel the same way, or in your 50’s and love tubing. It’s all okay.
Vang Vieng was once an incredibly unlikely party town. That was until 2012, when the government shut down tubing, banned too many bars from being open at once along the river, and stopped the menus of drug options. Now, tubing is back, and to some extent the rest of the above too – but the government has put much stricter rules on all these things. If you’re wondering why it was all closed in 2012, I’d recommend reading this article in The Guardian for a bit of background…
So, now you’ve arrived in Vang Vieng, and you’ve walked past Nanas, seen the drunk kids falling into the street and piling into tuktuks at 10am for tubing, and avoided the ‘happy’ pizza. You’re over 30, you like to be in bed by around 10.30pm, and prefer temple visiting to pub crawls. So what is there to do in a Vang Vieng?
There’s actually more to Vang Vieng then meets the eye – and we didn’t even realise this until we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river. There lies beauty – and you can breathe in the incredible mountain views, have a nice meal, and even stay the night. It costs a small amount to cross the bridge, but it’s worth it. While there visit Phangern Mountain and hike to the top! It’ll take around 45 minutes, so take some water. If you’re up for a shorter walk, head to the Nam Xay viewpoint and take in the stunning scenery.
2: HOT AIR BALLOONING
We’ve already shared our amazing experience hot air ballooning with Above Laos, and we would fully recommend taking some time out to travel upwards and experience Vang Vieng from the skies. Laos is known for its mountainous geography, so take full advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the best vantage point – the clouds.
3: ROCK CLIMBING
Daniel enjoys rock climbing (I prefer reading), and there are plenty of options in Vang Vieng to satisfy those urges to grab onto pointy bits of cliff and drag yourself up (again – I’m personally not really sure of the appeal, but you do you). Adams offers a really reasonable price for half a day of climbing, at around £15. While there you learn all about safety knots, how to belay, and some basic climbing techniques. Daniel came back very pleased and achy.
4: LAKE NAM NGUM
If you like water activities but floating down a river with a bucket of Laos Laos isn’t your thing, head to Lake Nam Ngum. You can stay at a resort there, or do this as a day trip – there are a few choices (we went with The Sanctuary and loved it). It’s around a 30 minute drive from Vang Vieng, and you can kayak, swim, boat, or just watch the beautiful sunsets over the reservoir. It’s well worth a visit, especially if you’re craving the beach in landlocked Laos.
5: GIANT CAKES
Basically, I have never seen cookies or cakes bigger than the ones at Luang Prabang Bakery. It’s worth just popping in to stare at them. They are also tasty, so take a book, get yourself a coffee, and dunk that giant chocolate chip cookie all afternoon. Sounds perfect.
6: NIGHT MARKET
As you’ll find in most places, there is a night market in Vang Vieng. The stalls sell a lot of what you’d expect to see in a night market, cotton trousers with pictures of elephants on them, t-shirts with Beer Laos logos and much more. Truth be told, this isn’t the most exciting night market we’ve seen but it is worth walking through to maybe grab a smoothie and replace some worn out flip-flops.