The beautiful party town of Vang Vieng was the second city that my friend Kyle (here’s his website) and I visited during our week-long sojourn in Laos. You can read about our first few days in Vientiane, the Laotian capital city, here. You can also read about our experience in Luang Prabang, definitely my favorite, here.
We traveled from Vientiane to Vang Vieng in a very air-conditioned bus. Kyle was quite pleased with that situation, but I was freezing. The ride took about four and a half hours. It rained for the majority of the trip and I enjoyed watching the clouds move outside the window. The landscape didn’t change too much as we climbed into the beautiful, misty mountains. We passed rice paddies, cows, some goats, and lots of dogs and chickens.
Like Vientiane, Vang Vieng is situated along the Mekong River. The town is quite small, beautifully located in the midst of mountains, and very easy to walk around. We spent both afternoons alternating between food, drinks, and walking and I do believe we saw everything there was to see.
As usual, we wandered past some beautiful Buddhist temples. No matter how much travelling I do in Southeast Asia, they never get old.
For our first night in Vang Vieng, we found a neat bar located along the Mekong River where the best available seats were hammocks! We stayed there for a while and watched the sun go down over the water. It was a very serene experience, despite the mosquitos.
We spent the next morning with a guide we booked through Green Discovery who took us on a short trek first through rice paddies and then through several caves, which were really neat. I’ve explored caves before, but never caves as dark and deep as these. We wore headlamps that the guide had us turn off at one point so we could experience complete darkness. Bats were the primary inhabitants of at least one cave, and another extended so far through the mountain that we had to turn back because we ran out of time to go through it. At the end of the trek, we loaded ourselves into inner tubes to float through yet another cave while clinging to a rope for dear life. Very cool experience!
While walking through town, we saw a number of signs in Hebrew (fun for me) and Korean (fun for Kyle). Low tourist season meant that it was relatively quiet, even considering the drinking, drugs, and partying culture that has given Vang Vieng a certain reputation. Unsurprisingly, the town was full of backpackers looking to have a good time. If our own experiences out and about are any indication, I can assure you that they did! If you’re ever in Vang Vieng, I highly recommend a trip to Sakura Bar, even if you’re going just for the top-notch people watching. We spent a few hours and very little money there and were highly entertained.
Neither of us were completely prepared for the seven and some hours on a rather poorly air-conditioned, much more crowded bus the next morning, but it was completely worth it to reach the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. Stay tuned!