Ah Vang Vieng. Famous drink and drug fuelled party town of Laos. Arriving here after Luang Prabang was a little disappointing. Not much visible Laos culture, just a small strip geared towards westerners. Happy hours where the alcohol is free. Weed and opium for sale in various bars. It was clear in just our first night here how Vang Vieng got its reputation for being the party hotspot of South-East Asia. Emily and I weren’t really there for that though. Well we were a little. Who can say no to unlimited free whisky after all…
Just some of the amazing beauty Vang Vieng has to offer
Waking up with a bit of a hangover we scrambled around for breakfast and packing a day bag before going out on our main excursion in Vang Vieng. Loaded into the back of another truck we headed to our first destination, the rather underwhelming Elephant cave. Yes, you guessed it, there’s a rock formation in it that looks like an elephant…
To be fair it does look like an elephant…
Our next stop however, was incredible. Tham Nam water cave. A thrill ride tubing through low hanging caves with chest high water pulling you through at a fast pace. With just a rope and a headlamp to guide you we joked that this was definitely somewhere that England’s health and safety police would have shut down years ago! And what a shame that is, it was fun and exhilarating and safe enough but also had just that small element of danger to make you feel really alive. We loved it!
No pictures from our time tubing, was too busy clinging on to guide rope and dear life!
After an included lunch we headed off for an afternoon of kayaking. The Nam Song River is currently over flooded due to the rains of low season, so it was deeper and wider than if we had kayaked in summer. But for an hour or so we were just enjoying the pure bliss of being outside, on the river and watching the world go by. An experience that you would definitely pay a premium for in the UK!
Such an incredible kayaking expedition!
Our last stop was to one of the Blue Lagoons. The freshwater springs that Vang Vieng is most famous for. Deep azure pools with crystal clear clarity allowing you to see to the depths far below. We had a couple of hours hanging out in Blue Lagoon 2, one of the busier pools with 2 deep jumping platforms. Amazing fun to just swim and jump in the water. It really took me back to my childhood by the sea! After being a chicken shit about it, Emily even did her first ever bomb into the water. I was suitably impressed and in no way peer pressured her into it at all… It rounded off a perfect day of activity. All for £11 total each. Crazy cheap.
Emily getting over her fear and jumping into the gorgeous blue water with me
After a surprisingly good Italian dinner (found by our Italian travel buddy, Federico, naturally) and a sleep that was interrupted at the crack of dawn by the street rooster (please someone just cook that bird) we were ready for our final day of activities in Vang Vieng. I had researched a cool cave to explore within walking distance from the town, so meeting up with another friend, Victoria, Emily and I set off. Destination: Tham Chang.
Tham Chang bridge, only a little rickety!
Crossing a picturesque orange bridge, we found another natural spring. As beautifully blue as Blue Lagoon 2 from the previous day, this spring had nobody else swimming. Total privacy, and totally free. Wild swimming in Laos is amazing. Exploring a small cave, but unwilling to get swept by the wrong current we were all in total bliss just watching the fish and cyan water. Laos really can be a magical paradise.
Our own secret Blue Lagoon and cave for just the 3 of us
After drying off and paying a 15000 kip entrance fee (£1.50ish), we scaled the steep staircase to reach Tham Chang, the main cave complex and our destination. A proper cave. It was cavernous and must be the true envy of the Elephant cave from the previous day! Exploring all the chambers was a really fun 45 mins or so.
How to be a complete amateur at flash photography – just point and click in the darkness
Lunch finished and walking back into town, Emily and I decided to spend our final full afternoon in Vang Vieng relaxing. After packing for our departure in the morning we headed out to enjoy some delicious Laos coffee and have a traditional Laos massage. Bliss. All in all, while Vang Vieng wasn’t our favourite town on this trip, there is enough stuff here to make it a must visit for anyone spending time in Northern Laos. We both really enjoyed it. It just wasn’t Luang Prabang, and there’s really no shame in not living up to our favourite South East Asian city so far!
Check out Emily on Instagram
One last view of Vang Vieng