Vang Vieng: After the Party
What was once the number one party spot for backpackers in S.E. Asia, Vang Vieng is now a fairly peaceful town with remnants of what was. And to be honest, we prefer it that way.
Vang Vieng is most famously known for tubing down the river surrounded by limestone cliffs, making stops and taking shots at all of the riverside bars along the way, consuming “happy shakes” and “happy pizzas”, and watching endless episodes of Friends. Its not surprising the government put an end to the party a couple of years ago, with the amount of tourists ending up injured and some even dead. Many people now skip right on over this town because they feel there is nothing left. But for us, it was more inviting than ever and we couldn’t wait to make the trip.
Boat Ride in Vang Vieng
And while you still have the option to tube down the river, you can also choose to kayak or take a long boat instead. Since we only had an hour or two before dark, we opted for the latter and took a sunset cruise. We paid 80,000 kip ($10 USD) for an hour ride, and that was without any haggling. I guess Charlie was tired that day ;-). It was well worth the trip though!
Although many of the bars along the river are abandoned and falling apart, a few still remain:
Vang Vieng is also the only place in Laos where you can do a hot air balloon ride. Since we were only there for the night, and it wasn’t exactly in our budget, we didn’t partake but we did get to see one going up on our boat ride.
We also saw some para-gliders and that looked amazing! Maybe one day…
And, if you are on a budget, you can always hang out at the backpacker bars serving cheap western food and playing episodes of Friends all day long! Brittany could have easily spent a few days doing that…
Although it is not as wild as it once was, Vang Vieng is still full of life and has plenty to offer for tourists passing through. If you are planning a trip to Laos, take a couple of days to visit. You won’t regret it!