With the negative media hype that surrounds Vang Vieng due to the tubing phenomenon I was actually very curious to explore this town to see what else this place had going for it. I can honestly say I was not disappointed.
The first thing you notice in Vang Vieng is the stunning scenery – the backdrop of mountains and stunning Karst hill landscape is not disappointing. It is a laid back town that is geared up for the backpacker invasion but in fact has so much more to it and is well worth a visit. There is a vast array of accommodation ranging from 1 star through to 4 star and many restaurants ranging from western through to traditional Laos fare.
The town is set on the Nam Song River and is accessible by bus, boat or for the more adventurous kayak.
You can spend your days here either chilling out (watching friends and family guy re-runs in the bars) or you can do a variety of adventure tours. The tours range from dirt bike riding, trekking, caving, hot air ballooning, rock climbing and kayaking, all of which can be combined over a number of days.
I chose to spend 2 days combining trekking, caving and kayaking. The first day started in Phathao, a small village just outside of Vang Vieng.The trek takes you across a mountain range that turns into a climb leading you to amazing panoramic views. At the top of the ridge we explored the Tham Hok Cave which is full of stalactites and stalagmites.
From there we headed down the mountain to the Secret Eden pool for a quick dip before retiring to our accommodation at the Pathang Resort for the evening. In the morning it is time to get on the road to get to the kayaking on the Nam Song River.
The kayaking is brilliant – sometimes a little hairy but manageable and for anyone that may have trouble there is excellent guides on hand to help out.nAlong the way we check out some more caves where we can jump out of our kayaks for a quick swim. The last part of the kayaking brings you back into town just in time to enjoy a gorgeous sunset.
Don’t wipe Vang Vieng from your Laos Holiday because of negative media reports about crazy backpackers and tubing – it is an absolute must on your itinerary while doing a Laos Trip. I personally think it has a lot more going for it then it is given credit for.