Vang Vieng Adventures and Scenery

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Blue Lagoon

Vang Vieng Adventures and Scenery

The small town of Vang Vieng has transformed itself from a little known local town, to an infamous party town and now into one of the top destinations in Laos for outdoor adventure activities in a very short period of time.

Vang Vieng

It was only a few years ago when young immature backpackers flocked into this beautiful small town to get drunk and do drugs while jumping off cliffs and floating down the river in tubes. The combination of a river with a strong current strewn with rocks and highly intoxicated people is not a good one. It got to the point by 2012 that more than 20 tourists a year were dying here from drowning in the river.

In 2012 the bars that were lining the river luring in tubers with free shots of whisky were mostly shut down and the locals began to transform the town of Vang Vieng into what it is becoming today. There are so many opportunities to get out and enjoy the scenery in this area without sitting in a tube and getting trashed.  While some people still do this, more and more people are staring to appreciate the town for what it is. Unfortunately though someone had just died in the river a few days before I arrived.

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Kayaking the Nam Song River

In my opinion a much better option to see the river is to kayak down it. Even with just a half day you get to see about twice as much as you would in a tube and you get some good exercise.

That’s exactly what I did. I set out for my half day kayak tour around 1 pm. We were dropped off about 10 km up stream from town with a few kayaks and a guide. I was lucky enough to get a singe kayak. The scenery was absolutely incredible. I brought my go pro with me and got some pretty good photos and video.

At first 10 km sounded pretty good for a half day, but it turned out it only took a little over an hour to get back to Vang Vieng. I think they should either offer to rent your own kayak to go out on your own or offer different levels of tours. The half day tour is definitely geared for a beginner. I would have liked to do at least twice that distance, but then again maybe I should have just shelled out the extra cash for the full day tour.

None the less it was a great way to experience the Nam Song River.

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Great Place to just relax in Vang Vieng

I spent three days in Vang Vieng last week. It is a really great laid back little town. Besides the numerous outdoor activities to keep you busy, theres not much else to do or see. Thats fine with me, sometimes you just need to slow down and enjoy the scenery. It seems like every afternoon after I finished whatever I was doing for the day I would go hang out down by the river at a nice place called Smile’s beach bar. They have platforms right on the river with stationary tubes to sit in and also hammocks and they have a bonfire every evening.

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Like I said Vang Vieng really is changing into a laid back place instead if the party town it once was. While I’m sure there are still plenty clubs and bars where you can stay out and party all night, that’s not my thing. This place was just right to spend an afternoon/evening hanging out drinking some cheap BeerLao and talking to like minded people.

Mountain Biking, Caving, and The Blue Lagoon

Another day I decided to rent a mountain bike and go for a ride on some trails and back roads outside of town. I started by crossing the river and heading west out of town into the mountains.

I soon came across many signs advertising caves. There are a lot of options to choose from. Some with water some without. Some big, some small. Maybe I didn’t make the best choice, but it was still cool to do some more caving. While certainly not as big or impressive as the caves around Cave Lodge in the Mae Hong Son district of Northern Thailand, they are perhaps more interesting since you can get into some pretty tight places and they are not packed with tourists. In fact, it was only me and my guide in this cave the whole time.

There were some huge spiders and big stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. I always forget. Does anyone know which is which?

Also in the Cave is a Big Buddha statue. My guide had some candles for us to light. I was happy I had a chance to light one and say a prayer for my grandma(gaugi) who passed away a few days earlier. It was very peaceful.

I didn’t get any pictures inside the cave since all I had was my go pro which is not capable of taking photos worthy of this blog in low light conditions, but I did not want to take my Nikon DSLR on these adventures.

A few miles further up the trails is a river that, after exiting a cave, turns into a deep swimming hole. While it is very touristy it is still a nice place to hang out and cool off after a long day of mountain biking. There are rope swings and tree branches to jump off.

I jumped off the higher branch

I jumped off the higher branch

In summary Vang Vieng is an amazing place to travel through. There are so many (reasonably priced) outdoor activities and adrenaline sports to participate in while here. Some that unfortunately I didn’t try or mention are hang gliding and rock climbing. Maybe next time.

If you are in Laos do not miss out on Vang Vieng. It was probably my favorite destination in the country.

Brooks

Brooks

I am traveling the world focusing on adventure and photography.

2 Comments

  • Cara

    Wow, Vang Vieng is beautiful!!! Can’t wait for the teaser video!!!! Cara

    December 7, 2015 at 2:49 pm
  • Lara Hanlon

    I love that you said a prayer and lit a candle for Grandma in a cave in Laos!

    December 8, 2015 at 11:24 am

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