Who would’ve thought I’d be going to Vang Vieng? Definitely no human did. Vang Vieng is definitely a very peacefully quiet and scenic town. It may be small but it is all worth it. Everybody has been comparing Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng and that Luang Prabang IS a must see. However, my friends and I did not have the luxury of time and our journey was mostly about relaxing and spending time together. So without further ado, here is my long overdue post of my travels in Vang Vieng.
When we traveled
I don’t care when other people traveled to Vang Vieng, I highly recommend going in February. The weather was sunny during the day, not hot enough to be uncomfortable. It was nice and cool during early mornings and at night. I was wearing a tank top with a very thin jacket and I felt comfortable walking around. It was also okay wearing a rash guard the whole day. The weather was definitely pleasant. February, highly recommend it.
If you can’t, just please avoid going during the wet season. I heard it can get very humid and hot.
I heard there are many ways to get to Vang Vieng but the convenience depends on where you are coming from. My friend and I landed in Vientiane the night before our trip to Vang Vieng so we decided to ride the bus there. Laos is still a developing country so the roads are naturally bumpy and curvy. The distance between the two locations is 140km and the bus ride took about 4 hours. There is a stop in the middle where you can get some snacks, drinks and have a restroom break. The bus was clean and from my observation, it was an old Korean touristy bus being reused. Air conditioning was also great.
My friend booked the bus through ‘Soutchai Travel Sole’ in Vientiane. You will ride the bus at the Soutchai Office in Vientiane and will be dropped off at the Vang Vieng Old Airport (near the city center). The bus fare was 50,000 kip (5-6 USD) per person. There are only 2 bus times. First one leaves at 9:30 AM and arrives at 1:30 PM. The second bus departs at 2:00 PM and arrives at 06:00 PM. Despite the 3 of us not being morning people we decided on the morning bus to have more time to explore Vang Vieng and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been happy to arrive after dark and be confused where I am. Always nice and safe to be traveling in daylight in unfamiliar places.
I searched endlessly on how to travel within Vang Vieng in other blogs but couldn’t find anything reliable. They recommended bicycles, motorcycles or tuk-tuks. But I can assure you that the city of Vang Vieng is very walk-able. If you know how to ride motorcycles, it would be great to rent one and go to different places such as to the blue lagoons, zip lines, etc. I wouldn’t recommend taking a bicycle because the roads are less developed and though it wasn’t too hot when we went to Vang Vieng, I’m sure riding a bicycle will be uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong. I love cycling but I wouldn’t ride a bicycle around in Vang Vieng.
We didn’t find any tuk-tuks around. And yes, we know how one looks like.
The good news is, if you book an arranged day-tour or ‘adventure’ the tour agency provides pick-up and drop-off services. It was very convenient.
Where we stayed
The same with all accommodations around the world, the price varies on your budget and preferences. But I can vouch for the whole city of Vang Vieng when I say that it’s very affordable here. I always book my accommodations through Agoda because I found their site really easy to navigate. Also, they have had better deals when comparing them to other reservation sites. The hotel we stayed at was, Simon Riverside Hotel. Our cost of the hotel was near 55 USD for a twin bedroom per night. It was a 10 minute walk away from the town center but the walk was always worth it, even after a full day. The hotel has a pool, clean rooms, breakfast buffet (food was great and different almost every morning) and super friendly staff. No, they’re not paying me to say these things. It was just such a pleasant stay with them. And no, Agoda doesn’t pay me either. Just recommending them because I’m really a fan of their website whenever I travel.
There are even cheaper accommodations available. Almost all hotels ranged between 10-20 USD per night. Guesthouses ranged from 3-10 USD per night.
What we did
There are many things to do in Vang Vieng. More than tubeing and drinking dear friends. There is more to life than that. We booked all of our activities through travel agencies.
Hot Air Balloon
There were 3 of us traveling together and all of us had different things we wanted to do, which was great! The first thing to do on our list was the hot air balloon. There are many cities around the world that offer this expensive adventure but in Vang Vieng, it cost us 85 USD including pick-up and drop-off at the hotel. The tour agency we booked with was VLT Tour Office and it is near where the bus from Vientiane drops you off. The price was different when I searched about it. Many people said it cost 80 USD. Some blogs mentioned that they increased it to 120 USD. But the real reason is because the price depends on the scenery. There is a city view, which is what we paid for. And there is a mountain view, which was 120 USD. You can choose to ride either the sunrise view or the sunset view. I’m glad my friends decided on the sunset view because it was very beautiful.
The hot air balloon ride is truly something magical and I would gladly spend my money to ride it again. The view of the mountains and rock formations, the trees, everything was so majestic. Plus, the view of the sunset. Absolutely splendid. I will let the picture below speak for itself.
Shopping at the Night Market
After the hot air balloon ride, we stopped by the night market and spent all our money there. Just kidding. You can get dresses for as low as 5 USD and souvenir pouches for 50 cents. Almost all of the items are hand made. People are not screaming at your faces to sell you their products. I feel bad even for haggling because they were already so affordable. I bought a few items from there that I know I will be using and wearing. Cross my heart.
The night market is easy to spot as it is located at the city center and you can see the lights turn on as soon as the sun sets.
Our activities for the second day cost 140,000 kip (15 USD). We booked a tour at our hotel the day before. This was not a private tour. The hotel only booked for us with an agency. We were placed in a group of different people. Some signed up for the same activities as us. And some had more or less than our number of activities. The activities were, cave tubing, elephant cave, kayaking and one blue lagoon. Another guy with us signed up for zip-lining.
The tour package is inclusive of transportation, waterproof bags, life jackets, kayaks and most importantly, lunch.
The next morning, they picked us up and we were off to our amazing adventure.
Our first activity was cave-tubing. I’ve never gone tubing before so this was an experience. This was also my first time in a cave. This whole trip was just full of many firsts. The place was where many tour groups came to go cave tubing as we were not the only group present. We were given time to go to the restroom and put our belongings in the waterproof bag they provided us. Our guide instructed us multiple times to NOT bring our phones with us and to leave it in our waterproof bags. I was skeptical at first but do not worry, your belongings will be fine. They will be left alone on your group’s table.
We were given helmets with lamps and tubes at the river. We moved in a line and we had to pull ourselves through the cave. I was thankful that we did not see any bats because I would have freaked out. I was more surprised how artificial the cave looked despite its authenticity. The depth of the water depends on the parts of the cave. Some parts are too shallow to ride the tube so you need to walk. The guide will be in front of the group at all times and it is completely safe. Just be sure to hold on to your phones/cameras if you did bring them with you. I’m sure it will save the guide a whole lot of relief not having to look for it in the dark.
Your group will be asked to turn off your lamps at the end of the cave. It is pitch dark! There is no difference between opening and closing your eyes. Just think of how restful your sleep would be in that dark. No light at all.
We then made our way back out of the cave and we were given our lunch.
To be honest, I thought this cave would be bigger. It is a small cave with a shrine in the middle. It is called “Elephant Cave” because a natural rock formation in a form of an elephant is somewhere in the cave. I will let you see the formation for yourself when you go. We spent no less than 15 minutes at the cave.
Another first for me! I had a lot of fun kayaking. We kayaked through the Nam Song River of Vang Vieng. The trip will take you 1 hour and 30 minutes. But time passes by very quickly. There were 3 of us in one kayak and it was a lot of fun. Two of us rowed while the middle person took pictures. My friends didn’t warn me in advance what the back seat entitled. They thought I have kayaked before. Of course we were the last group to finish but we also didn’t need to get off the kayak. We also didn’t capsize. 100 points for us!
The view while kayaking is really pretty. You can see trees, mountains and even floating restaurants. Some children were playing at the river and splashed water to those on kayaks – us. People even parked their cars on shallow waters to wash them. The most memorable part was after 5 minutes into the ride, a water snake decided to pass by us. The three of us silently panicked and enjoyed the rest of the ride.
There are 3 commonly known blue lagoons in Vang Vieng. Blue Lagoon 1 is the most visited and most crowded. People jump from a tree into the water. You can also swing by the rope and dive in! There is a stall that sells fruit juices. And a restaurant that has food and beer. I personally enjoyed Beer Lao White during my stay in Laos. The water was blue but not clear. It was amazed to see fish swimming in the water. I’ve always wanted to see and swim in a blue lagoon. So I am very glad that I did. I’m not a great swimmer so I was wearing a life jacket the whole time. The water is quite deep.
I heard Blue Lagoon 2 and 3 are less crowded. But we only got to visit 1 lagoon.
At the end of the day we swam in the swimming pool and decided to shoot our ‘AnySong Challenge’ dance with the sunset.
Was my experience in Vang Vieng awesome? Yes. My friend mentioned that Vang Vieng is a great place for people traveling in Southeast Asia for the first time. I agree with her. People are friendly and the places are easy to get to. The cost is not steep and almost everything is affordable. The city is small that you can walk around. We didn’t get food poisoning too. There are enough things to do that will not bore you during your stay. But like I said, the city is small. This means that there is not a lot of things to do. Many backpackers stay in coffee shops. And I’m sure the bars are crowded on some nights. The city is very accessible from Vientiane.
My friends and I all agreed that this trip was very relaxing. It was a true vacation.
Got questions about this trip? Leave a comment below or contact me through Facebook!
Watch out for upcoming pictures of Vang Vieng and Vientiane on my Instagram!
Will post soon about my trip to Vientiane soon. So keep posted!
I know everyone is staying at home, being locked down during this difficult and dark time. But there is hope. And until we can walk around and travel, mask-free… just keep walking (at home).
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!