Laos: Vang Vieng where everyone drinks and we had stunning views to ourselves

Vang Vieng used to be famous for tubing: going down the river in a big truck air chamber while drinking at the many river bars. Due to loads of drunk idiots drowning in water less than a meter high, in 2012 the government cleaned the city and shut down most of the bars. That must have been a relief for the locals… Apparently foreigners were acting shockingly wild (compare to Lao customs): flashing boobies and genitals, having sex in the tubes etc… It could be something I’d have fun at like most people obviously, but not in a country so conservative with no respect to the locals. Apparently they now refuse to go to the river as it has bad karma. Vang Vieng is just a small mountain village after all…

Even though the reputation of Vang Vieng still is of a party town, the scenery is so gorgeous to not go check it out. And it’s absolutely stunning! It looks a lot like the inland Halong Bay in Vietnam, maybe even more gorgeous. The town is now totally geared towards outdoors activities. We got to visit beautiful caves by ourselves with our headlamps, kayak down the river (where we only saw a few tubers and had the water to ourselves for 15km), walk in the rural area around Vang Vieng etc… It is very touristy and tubing seems to still be a thing. When we saw tubers on the river Silvère said “oh look, human trash”, and they really did look like fat dumps, passively floating on water. It even looked more fun for us to watch than for them to wait for the next bar. There are people walking around town in their swimming suit, some loud music and plenty of western and Korean restaurants, but we  managed to get away from the crowds very easily. It’s also in VV that we got to eat the best Lao dishes of our entire trip in the country! We entered a small restaurant that really didn’t look like anything, but was one of the few local eateries, and came back everyday like junkies craving their heroin. It was soooo good and cheap! Almost as cheap as the (yummy) sandwiches and pancakes you can buy everywhere in the street. Added to great happy hour deals in front of the sunset and the karsts, we could have stayed much longer than our 4 days.

We met a guy in Luang Prabang who couldn’t wait to go back tubing in VV, his last trip there being 4 years ago. When I told him it was no longer a big party, he was so disappointed that I thought he was gonna cry. He asked 10 times “so no more tubing? and the bars are closed?” and didn’t seem to care about visiting the area at all. I can see why locals got very pissed off at some point…

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First thing in Vang Vieng, sunset happy hour with dragon fruit cocktails!

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The sunset on the karsts.

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The road to the many caves to explore in the surroundings.

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The blue lagoon cave. Most people don’t even climb the mountain to visit it and sunbath on the grass after swimming. We had the huge cave all to our headlamps.

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Short before sunset, balloons start flying.

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The view from the kayak.

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The best spring rolls EVER!

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As colorful as it was tasty.

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We had to climb a very steep karst hill to get to that view point! Once again, all to ourselves!

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Stunning landscape on the way to the North.

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