Vang Vieng Laos

Vang Vieng Laos

Vang Vieng Laos: We boarded the bus from Luang Prabang for Vang Vieng Laos with a little trepidation as we had heard horror stories about the bus trip over the mountains. Our fears weren’t helped when the bus driver handed out travel sick bags as the bus set off.

The main road south (and only road) – route 13 – wends it way through an impressive mountain range. At every turn there was jaw dropping scenery as the bus climbed one mountain and descended the other side only to then climb the next mountain. We passed a number of small villages clinging to the side of the mountains and several times had to navigate around landslides that had covered the road with mud which the local villagers were madly clearing with shovels.

Seven hours and 250 km later we arrived in the town of Vang Vieng Laos. We had no real expectations of Vang Vieng which is a good thing as it is a nothing town.  It is surrounded by incredible scenery but the town itself does not have much to offer. In fact after a walk up the main street we were so underwhelmed we booked seats on the first bus out the next morning. Vang Vieng has sprung up from a small village to cater for backpackers who travel there to tube the Nam Song River in inflated tractor tyres, get drunk or stoned on one of the ‘Happy Meals’ and generally behave like yobs. Our favourite signed spotted in the main street was “Super Happy Pizza extra strong”. 

Now don’t get me wrong I like a drink and a bit of a party but I struggle to see the benefit of going all the way to Laos to get wiped out and not remember anything…

And for anyone reading this blog who is planning to tube the river or jump from one of the many towers into the river just remember the nearest medical help is in Thailand at least 5 hours away and the closest thing the town has to an ambulance is a tuk tuk.
We stayed in a guesthouse on the edge of town which was the ‘our choice’ in a certain famous guidebook. With cold water only, no sink, mosquitoes the size of small jet fighters and beds like concrete it certainly was not ‘my choice’.
The following morning saw us standing on the side of the road waiting for a Tuk Tuk to take us to the bus station to Vientiane.

P.S. I am glad we caught the bus from Luang Prabang as we experienced some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen but Vang Vieng is certainly not on our list of ‘must visit again places’.

**UPDATE In 2014 the Laos government cracked down on the illegal bars and clubs in Vang Vieng after several international tourists died from accidents in the river. We re visited Vang Vieng in 2014 and found a very different and pleasant town. Read that story here

For Information on Travelling In Laos Read Our Laos Travel Guides