The small city Vang Vieng lies between Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos. It once used to be a place for you foreigners to party hard and tourism became quite heavy and destructive. After some unpleasant incidents due to party and drugs, including the death of several tourists, the Laos government came into action. Today it has become a lot more quiet and most tourists come because of the stunning scenery surrounding the place. Nevertheless the main center of town is still packed with bars, restaurants and guest houses.
How to get there?
Vang Vieng can be reached by bus only. You can either go there from Luang Prabang or Vientiane. Both ways take about 4 hours. Make sure to take the “new” route if you book a bus departing from Luang Prabang. It is much shorter and will save you about 2-3 hours.
There are several caves and blue lagoons located around the city. You can easily reach and explore them by renting a scooter or a bicycle. This way you will also be able to enjoy the beautiful mountains, rice fields and tiny villages nearby. There are still some party activities left (tubing down the Nam Song river or pub crawls) but there also are a lot of outdoor activities and tours which can be booked. Including caving, climbing, hiking, kayaking and much more.
How long to stay?
We decided to only stay for 1 night to shorten the long journey to Vientiane. That is why we made sure to get to Vang Vieng super early (which meant taking the bus at 6 am) so we had the rest of the day to explore what the city has to offer. Nature lovers should stay at least 2 days. Party animals of course could stay a little longer. Vang Vieng definitely is quite a good place to hang out, enjoy yourself and relax with some good cheap food, beer, fruit shakes and fun activities.
Where to stay?
The center of Vang Vieng is packed with hostels, guest houses and hotels. You will definitely find some accommodation which suits you budget. We stayed at the Chaleun Garden Guest House for around 7 EUR per night/double room. The place lies in the back of a restaurant at the main street. You might still hear some music at night, but all in all the place is located quite convenient and quiet. The rooms are super clean and you will get some basic accommodation (fan, bed, bathroom).
Vang Vieng Challenge Unfortunately we could not participate in this great activity offered by Green Discovery (the place was right opposite of our guest house) but we would still like to recommend it as we think it is a great thing to do. The Vang Vieng Challenge includes a one day hike up to a mountain, sleeping in a tree house on top of the mountain and another day of abseiling and zip-lining down the mountain. This adventure will enable you to see Vang Vieng from a totally different perspective. A good read In case you would like to get some more information about the “old days“ of Vang Vieng we recommend a quite interesting article of The Guardian written in 2012, right before most of the party has been banned.