Why you should not miss Vang Vieng during your Laos trip!
During my 5 month stay in Laos I completely fell in love with the small authentic town Vang Vieng. It became my number 1 favorite place in Laos because of so many reasons!
Vang Vieng in Laos is a destination with a reputation. Until a few years ago, this small village was known as the backpacker destination of Asia. A place where the local life was completely taken over by the endless stream of tourists. Tourist came here mainly to go partying, drinking and tubing, but not anymore.
Due to strict measures by the local government, the use of alcohol and drugs has been cut down and the town has become a lot more quiet. However, Vang Vieng is still a backpacker’s place to be. But, if you’re looking for a special travel experience, you’re in the right place here. The surroundings of Vang Vieng are breathtaking and there are many things to see and do. Reason enough to include Vang Vieng in your itinerary, and to enjoy the authentic Laos.
Vang Vieng: the beauty of Laos
Except the many karaoke bars and cafes, Vang Vieng is the most beautiful place I visited in Laos. The town is surrounded by a magnificent landscape of limestone mountains and as soon as you walk out of the town you will be on the unspoiled countryside. Cows walk across the street, you see monks cycling and people are working in the rice fields. Tourists are gone and the locals can life their tranquil life. You immediately understand why people want to stay here longer.
How to get there?
Vientiane –> Vang Vieng
It takes around 4 hours to reach Vang Vieng from Vientiane with a minivan. The roads are not in good shape so your journey will be quite bumpy and the busses are always packed with people so don’t expect much personal space.
A minivan you can easily book at your accommodation or any other shop in the center of Vientiane. Most busses go in the morning and the last one around 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
The mini-van will costs around 50.000 KIP. This is around 5 euro’s and 6 dollar which is really cheap! Different types of busses will be mentioned on the sales signs, but in the end you will always end up in a mini-van no matter which one you book. So my biggest tip is to just choose the cheapest option.
Luang Prabang –> Vang Vieng
In Luang Prabang you can book at your own accommodation or at any shop in the center a mini-van or VIP bus. There won’t be much difference so I would just go with the cheapest option. The price will also be around 50.000 KIP (5 euro’s / 6 dollar).
The views on the way are beautiful and when you arrive in Vang Vieng itself you will be amazed by the stunning views on the cliff stone mountains. Vang Vieng itself is a quite small dusty town where especially backpackers and adventurous tourists stay.
Places to stay:
Because I visited Vang Vieng a couple of times I stayed at different accommodations.
The ones I can definitely recommend are :
- Rock backpacker hostel: This hostel has such a friendly staff who will help you with everything. This is why I liked my stay at this hostel so much. Everything is possible and they won’t charge too much. The rooms are sober but clean with a very good shower. One night stay in a private room with bathroom will be between 10-20 dollar (depends on the season).
- Bearlinbungalow : These bungalows are located a bit out of the center, but the owners will help you with everything you need and are the kindest people. The bungalows are situated in a big garden with beautiful mountain views.
Both of these hotels are excellent hotels with gorgeous mountain view scenery and a perfect location in the middle of the center! They offer luxury and clean rooms with high quality standards.
Best things to do:
1. Rent a bike and visit the blue lagoons
If you are in Vang Vieng for a short visit I would definitely recommend hiring your own bike and drive to the blue lagoons: These are natural water pools with bright blue water. The blue lagoons (1,2,3) are all on google maps or maps.me and are easy to find. The roads are very bumpy with big holes in it so don’t try to drive too fast. During your adventure you will pass some villages with very friendly local people waving at you.
Tip: If you want to have the best experience I would drive to blue lagoon 3 and if possible also visit blue lagoon 2. Blue Lagoon 1 is closest to the village and is generally overcrowded by Korean tourists. Blue lagoon 3 is located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the center which makes it a very tranquil and chill place. The road to the blue lagoon is absolutely breathtaking. Take you time to stop at beautiful places and take a dip in the river!
Rainy season: In the wet summer months the blue color often turns into a dark brown mass and it is not so nice to visit anymore. If you are in the right season in Laos, you can visit Blue Lagoon 1, 2 and 3.
Costs: Renting a bike will be around 60.000 kip (6 Euro, 7 dollar) for a day. And there will be a small entrance fee for the bridge and the blue lagoon itself. Make sure you start with a full tank and bring something to drink for yourself!
Kayaking is probably one of the most common things to do in Vang Vieng! The Nam Song river is a beautiful river surrounded with limestone mountains.
You can easily book a Kayaking trip at the many tourist shops. Most of them will be combined with cave tubing and the elephant cave!
3. Elephant Sanctuary Vang Vieng
The elephant Sanctuary in Vang Vieng I can not give more credit than I already did. This organization has stolen my heart and I urge you to visit it!
It will take 1 hour drive to the sanctuary, and even this drive is already breathtaking. The views are insane and you will pass many local villages.
I did the half day morning trek so we arrived there around 09:30. The elephant are treated with so much love and there are no hooks to be seen. You will walk, bathe and swim with the elephants and go home with an unforgettable experience.
Tip: You can book this trip in the Rock backpacker hostel or at the tourist shops in the center.
4. Different Facets of Vang Vieng (Riksja Travel)
In this tour you are going to see the real traditional way of living and Lao cooking. This will be combined with kayaking on the Nam Song river, a hike through the stunning rice fields and making your own knife(!). It is a full day tour and you have to be in good shape to do it but it is so worth it! You will learn a lot about the Lao culture and cuisine and you can help preparing your own lunch at a local families house! The guides are very kind and will help you with everything, they are proud of their country and love to tell stories.
You can book this tour by sending an email to email@example.com .
5. Nam Xay viewpoint / Pha Ngern viewpoint
There will be many viewpoints in Vang Vieng. I personally can recommend the Nam Xay top. It takes around a 30 minute hike to the top of the mountain which allows you to see the incredible landscape filled with limestone mountains. It is very peaceful at the top which makes this an incredible experience.
I also did the Pha Ngern viewpoint, for me this climb was too intense and too long. But if you are in good shape and up for a challenge I would suggest you do it. The views are very beautiful and serene when you are at the top.
Tip: These mountains are no joke! Be prepared and wear good walking shoes. Go with a backpack with some drinks in it and take a rest once in a while. Don’t climb these mountains after 4 PM, the darkness will surprise you and it will be very dangerous to go down.