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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in Asia, Laos

Laos – Vang Vieng – Tourist Trap #1

Laos – Vang Vieng – Tourist Trap #1

Oh Vang Vieng – What a tourist destination! The WHOLE little city of Vang Vieng was foreigners. No locals – it is 100% tourist. It was built by foreigners- it remains for foreigners. But, none the less, it is so much fun.

I jump in one of the vans in Vang Vieng, the inner tubes strapped to the roof, and make my way about 20 minutes upriver to bar number one.

There is a river, with beautiful mountains surrounding, and you can lazily tube down the river. The river is lined with multiple bars that have giant diving boards, rope swings to go into the water, giant water slides, ziplines and mud volleyball!

My first venture is to climb the giant tree swing. So up I go – up up up, as the tree wobbles and I question the safety of what I am about to do. I get to the top – there is the tree swing. I grab on with hold hands, the boy up there tells me to bend my knees deep and just drop off. It takes me a few bends and a couple of words of reassurance in my head before I finally step off. Swing Swing Swing – back and forth I go before eventually dropping into the brown murky water below.

From a drink at one bar to the 15 second float to the next bar. This is the general pattern of play for the first few hours; float to a new bar, have a couple of beers, and play on the swings. Maybe have a game of volleyball on the mud court. Whatever you fancy – it is an adult’s playground here – and it is meant to be enjoyed like we are kids again. Kids who can drink.

One of the last bars on down the river has a massive tiled slide – you climb up, there is a man holding a hose spraying water down the kitchen tile so you do not burn your butt – you slide on down at rapid speeds – and it spits you miles into the air, and over the people on tubes, before you drop into the water. It is such a rush.

Vang Vieng is a safe enough destination – if you do not drink to the excess or partake in the plethora of drugs available in every store, restaurant, and street corner. By drugs, I mean Marijuana, Mushrooms, and Opium. Readily available. Be advised: Drugs are available – but frequently once consumed, the dealer will call the police, and you will pay a HUGE fine which is split between the dealer and the policeman instead of you being departed.  If you drink excessively – be careful around the water – swimming becomes very difficult while intoxicated. Be Warned.

On the second day – after our arms were tired from paddling on the tube – we rented motor bikes and headed to the surrounding mountains to go cave sight seeing. We went to the elephant cave – in the photo there is stalactites that look like an elephant! Then we went into another cave which was 5 km deep! It is pitch black, scary, and you can feel the weight of the mountain surrounding you as you walk deeper and deeper and start to lose your sense of direction with no natural light reaching you! Later we headed to the WATER cave. You sit on a tube and pull yourself by a rope into the cave and then paddle around with your little headlamp on your forehead! It is a great experience, but there are unknown things in the water that sometimes run against your butt, feet, and hands and you are paddling your way into the cave. It is better to just not think about what it could be until AFTER you finish.

All and all – a wonderful time in Vang Vieng!



  1. I had a great time tubing – but the town itself was a disappointment. What’s with all the zombie backpacker, stoned and watching re-runs of US TV shows?!
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    • hahah I didn’t mind those US TV show re-runs – I LOVE friends. But mostly they played family guy which was awful. But I agree, the city if zombies. Luckily exploring the surroundings was much more fun!

    • Really? That is good to hear – at least for me. It was fun, but a little too much for me. The idea of floating down the puke-filled river still makes me queasy. Hopefully somebody will write a post about the ‘new’ Vang Vieng. I want to know the differences and if the hardcore ways have subsided.

  2. Sometimes I wonder why we travel to these exotic destinations only to create a version of our own life style locally. Shame…