Cross the Nam Song River
The Nam Song River offers many opportunities to make excursions that the travel agencies in Vang Vieng will sell you.
Since I only stayed there two days, one in my way to Luang Prabang and another one in the way back, I did not join any excursion, although they seemed very attractive. I just crossed on foot the bridge over the river Nam Song and visited the other side. Anyway I enjoyed the place and the atmosphere.
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
feeding the goats
It used to be good place to have a lunch that Organic farm here. We would come here more than once in different line up and had happily strolled through their majestic yard. We fed goats and enjoyed luxurious shades at this almost tropical rainforest-garden.
When we last visited the farm (in 2013) we were received with mixed feelings. My Lao relatives were almost chased out of the farm where we were usually strolling and contemplating, inspecting animals and seeing how the farm is doing in relaxed manner. Some years ago they seemed to be happy to get few curious vistiors but now it seems they want to have this paradise for themselves (for whom?for guests only?). Like if it matters only that you bring money... and I guess that's wrong, that's so far from the original concept of organic or eco farms.
We had a drink. The menu shrank and there is less food prepared. Their restuarnt in VV centre closed down some time ago.
Instead they seem to focus now on offering eco-friendly accomodation built from clay and wood, which honestly looks very pretty. They have dorms too. It's nice but pricey... and I guess we felt better some years ago when they had everything less and people greeted you with smile.
Their farm is now large even by Lao standard and from what I saw I still think it's pretty interesting place to see and they way they handle animals is also good, much better from average Lao farm. Even to animals it looks like they live in a hotel, clean and nice built from natural resources found locally. They also collect manure from goats for the garden and they have hundreds of guinea pigs.
Interesting and worth visiting even if you're not guest. Maybe the will allow you...or maybe they wont.
UP,UP AND AWAY
On a clear day it might be worth taking a ride up in a balloon, cost was around $70 if i remember and this can be organised from many of the agencies in town. Wonderful views of the town, river and surrounding scenery.
Please be warned how dangerous tubing and other activities can be on the river. it's great to have some beers, Lao whiskey and party at many of the riverside bars, but did you know that 22 people died there last year due to overindulgence in alcohol or drugs. The swings, slides and zip lines are not up to safety standards and sometimes the river is too shallow and tourists have hit their head on the rocks and got a one way ticket to heaven. i believe that many of the platforms, swings etc are being removed, but even so 2 tourists have died this year.
RENT A MOTORBIKE AND EXPLORE THAM PHU KHAM
Tired of the hot dusty days, then rent a motorbike for around $5 and head to Tham Phu Kham, a cave with Buddhist relics, located 10 kms across the main bridge in Vang Vieng. once climbing the steep steps to the cave entrance take a dip in the cool pool by the cave at the bottom. The water emerges from the bottom of the karst hill and the colour of the water is turquoise and quite chilly. You can climb a tree or swing above the pool, or have a snack from the vendors who hang around there. Once you have had enough you can continue your journey westwards and make a 50 km loop back to VV, stopping for a Beer Lao now and again.
Tubing: The Best Pub Crawl (drift) of All Time
Tubing is a real draw card here. It's been covered so many times before I feel bad repeating it, but it truly does bear repeating:
You can hire a big, inflated round yellow tube like a tyre, take a tuktuk out to one end of the Namsong river, and drift in the current down to the other end right near where you hired the tube and your accommodation would most likely be.
Along the river are multiple bars which offer to pull you in by rope. Every single bar has it's own variety of drinking games - some serve whiskey with snakes, bees or scorpions in the bottle, some have table tennis (perfect for beer pong), some have... um... wacky tobacco (if you're into that kind of thing) and some have huge slides and swings into the river.
The entire thing takes all day, if you stop at all the bars. It costs around $15 to hire the tube and tuk-tuk is included in the price. Ration about $10 for beers - and that's a lot of beer.
Pro tip - be sure to take your flip-flops with you so you can steer the tube better. Otherwise, just lounge around, drift lazily down the river, and stare in wonder at all the amazing scenery as you slowly get drunk!
- Budget Travel
- Jungle and Rain Forest
try best pancake in Laos
You can't miss it, they make those pancake (also called roti) in front of your eyes and fill it with what you like: chocolate or banana, mango, lime, milk, peanuts... sweet or sour taste.
Locals who sell these come out late in the afternnon with prepared dough which is then extended and fried upon hot plates of their portable owens - so that way you see that they're fresh. They take several locations around town.
I like those with lime and sometimes those with banana and chocolate.
Prices are from 10 000 KIP +, depends what you order.
Usually same guys will also have delicious baguette sandwiches (choose what you like to have inside at the spot), so you don't have to go hungry here.
- Budget Travel
Tubing and caving
Most tourists come to Vang Vieng to float the river Nam Song. Either in rubber rings/tubes or in kayaks. You can also go caving on the tubes, the caves are very dark, but don't worry you have helmets with a flashlight, if you do capsize you'll dry very quick.
There are numerous agencies in the town that can arrange different trips for you with lunch included.
Tham Chang Caves
Tham Chang is a largish and well-lit cave near the Vang Vieng Resort, to the south of town. Popular with tourists, even though it's not the most spectacular, it does have a lookout point with a great view back over Vang Vieng, the river and mountains. Entrance 9,000 kip.
There are at least four temples in Vang Vieng, three of which are located along the main road that runs through the town, whilst the fourth is located on the road that leads to the Vang Vieng Resort and the Tham Chang Caves. None of them are amazing to look at but warrant a wander to if you've had enough of watching Friends&i.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
One of the most popular pastimes in Vang Vieng is to hire an enormous tyre inner tube, be driven a couple of kilometres upstream, and launched into the water. The river generally flows at a slow but steady pace in the dry season, and the idea is to relax and absorb the scenery as you float back to Vang Vieng.
This 'sport' can be practised in a number of places in Laos, but nowhere is the view as spectacular as here with karst limestone mountains lining the route. Caves are well sign-posted and it's easy to take a break from tubing and go exploring. A number of enterprising people have set up bamboo bars along the river's banks, where you can stop for a beer and further chill out, although this isn't condoned.
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.
Rental price is 55,000 kip + 60,000 kip deposit which includes one way trip to the start if 4 of you go but if less than 4 then you have to pay extra depending on how many of you go.
One of the main features of the town is a long mostly unused airfield runway parallel to the Nam Song river and the main road that runs through the town. It was used during the Vietnam War by Air America's planes and was then called "Lima site 6".
Rent a bike and get out
Don't rent a scooter for more than 35,000 kip (most advertise 40~50,000 kip), but come with near empty tank. Bicycles are relatively expensive, but don't pay more than 20,000 kip.
You can drive out of the town and see some of the quiet villages. Or you can ride over the larger bridge (pay toll to cross) on south end of town (the one big enough for cars). Ride down about 6km to the Blue Lagoon and Phoukham cave.
The Blue Lagoon is a rather far distance on the dirt road on a bicycle. Also, the villages outside of the city are a bit far on a bicycle. A bicycle should only be chosen for those die hard riders, or those just wanting to stay in town.
streets of Vang Vieng
Not long time ago Vang Vieng was sleepy Lao village where people lived simple life in simple houses, doing farming and fising from Song river. They never had western menu. Then it was 'discovered' and it rapidly became tourist place; investors brought lots of money to build new buildings, some ugly some nicer: you can nowsadays see this mix styles of 'architecture' on every corner. Do you find it attractive? It looks quite hectic. There're charming wooden huts at one place and next to it you have concrete hotel; there are restaurants with few tables and huge dining places with many. It's so ecclectic. You have one of those lower Lao house in that street and rising new hotel next to it. Worse, there hotels with greek inspired columns at the doorways and balconies. All the area along river bank belongs to one owner or another - it's getting hard to get close to it, it's privatized.
Yes, they brought loads of money to town but look at VV: it's one of those dull new towns, developed into no style place. But you won't go there for the town itself, right?
- Budget Travel
former air field
First thing you'll notice in Vang Vieng when you come from Vientiane direction is that large remain of former air field. Nowsadays airplanes no longer land there because road connection is much better-paved and safer; however it serves many uses like being pick-up and bus stop, place for weddings and local fairs, and more dangerously - place for some individulas to practice their driving and speeding throughout the area. Those are probably aware of many crates in asphalt.
Other times local children will play games there and learn riding a bike, or play football in evenings. Next moment cows will be herded from one place to another crossing the strip. In mornings and afternoons or during the lunch break school kids will pass the air strip again. Every now and then local bus will drop small crowd of backpackers who will then walk through it into town. Sometimes dogs and cats will be chasing and playing with one another and/or try to mate. Actually it's a place full of activites and interesting to watch. But imagine how many other things Vang Viengers could have in the place instead of that vast field of asphalt.
- Budget Travel