Known for it’s Tubing activity, Vang Vieng has plenty more to offer from it’s Street Food to The Happy Bar to The Blue Lagoon.
Sandwiches, Burgers and Smoothie stalls are dotted along most streets in the city and they are super cheap, convenient but most of all, delicious and available at all hours of the day and night.
The Hostel (Chillao Youth Hostel)
Conveniently located, this hostel was a great choice for many reasons. Every night Happy Hour included unlimited free local Whiskey by the bottle. Your only expense is a mixer if you feel you need one. Needless to say, if you choose to stay there, you will be drunk most of the time but that just means guaranteed fun in my mind.
Myself and two travel buddies shared a private room which looking back, I am glad we did. After already travelling for quite some time, a private room can be a nice change from a shared dorm. If you’re worried about making friends here, don’t! You will have plenty of opportunities. Breakfast time is a great way to meet people over a free omelette and coffee, or at Happy Hour or whilst out Tubing.
Note: We paid around $4 per night.
The Streets of Vang Vieng
Enjoy a nice relaxing day of wondering the streets of Vang Vieng or venture further to some more spectacular views. You can even stop off at some local shops to buy some souvenirs or clothes. The locals didn’t seem that open to bargaining so respect their prices and only buy something if you truly want or need it.
The Famous Tubing!
Although it has calmed down a lot in recent years to ensure the safety of the tourists, it’s still a truly enjoyable experience from beginning to end. The friends I travelled with are both sociable like me so within minutes of renting our tubes, we already had a group forming. Its true what they say, “The more the merrier”.
On our tubing journey two bars were open along the way. A worker shouts you in, you jump off your tube and drag yourself out of the water which has a pretty strong current so be ready to move those legs. The first stop for us was a huge wooden seating area resembling the deck of a boat with no exterior at all. You simply buy your drinks from the small bar and enjoy them in the hot sun accompanied by other travellers and good music. There was also an outdoor mud bath which most intoxicated people couldn’t help but throw themselves into, quickly turning the whole area into a mud fight. But don’t worry there are showers and even if you are not part of the fight you will most likely get caught in the crossfire.
Once you have had your fill of alcohol and mud at the first bar, you jump back onto your tube and float further down the river. You can’t beat the contrasting feeling of cold water beneath you; the hot sun above you whilst relaxing on a soft tube with a slight buzz. Not too long after, another worker spots the many tubes heading towards him and before you know it, we’re dragging ourselves out of the water yet again. This time it’s not so easy, I wonder why.
This bar was in much higher spirits than the previous with people knocking back shots, dancing under a water fountain and generally just letting their hair down. This is where our little group grew ten fold. With the music blasting all around you, the sun beaming down upon you, what better way to take it all in than with an ice cold beer.
Hours later we all broke off into smaller groups to head back. Myself and my two travel buddies, beer in hand floated slowly down the river enjoying each others company and relaxing after all the dancing. What we didn’t know was that towards the end you need to fight the current, using all of your energy for about 30 minutes straight to somehow get out of the river at the stop sign before being swept away by the increasingly strong current.
After returning our tubes and waiting for the other arrivals we continued the drinking with some much needed BBQ. Some even continued to the bars. All in all it was one of those experiences you will never forget. Some of the people I met on that day have continued to be a part of my life and a few of us already have future travel plans together.
The Bar Scene
Although there are many bars to choose from, I noticed that two particular bars seemed to be the most popular amongst the backpackers.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S Bar – These bars (Yes – there were many) can be found along numerous roads. Each F.R.I.E.N.D.S bar differs in décor, menu and comfort but of course the common factor is that they all play the T.V series F.R.I.E.N.D.S all day, everyday. I don’t know anyone who dislikes the T.V series including my own father so I think it’s a very clever idea and it certainly worked on me.
The Happy Bar – Want to feel happy? Get high! Two pages of the
menu are dedicated to Happy food and drinks. Prices seemed reasonable and it was busy every night with both locals and tourists looking for the perfect chill spot after a long day of outdoor activities in the scorching sun.
The Blue Lagoon & The Cave
If you have had enough of tubing, F.R.I.E.N.D.S bars and free Whiskey from the hostel, maybe you can take a day trip to the Blue Lagoon and Cave. Our day trip was organised and booked through our hostel but you could do it by yourself.
Note: No Entrance fee, just a transportation fee.
A short car journey later and you have arrived at a beautiful area filled with children’s laughter, the smell of BBQ and a view of a crystal clear blue lagoon. The sun was too strong to sit out so we
first decided to explore the cave. Luckily the stone steps up to the cave entrance were shaded by trees but they were very steep, slightly unstable making it quite a challenge. I would suggest wearing some kind of sports shoes and have both hands free to assist yourself in the climb up.
Immediately on entering the cave you feel the chill surround you and the ground is wet and slippery. Wearing a head torch would be the smart thing due to the severe lack of light inside. The cave itself is a fun place to walk around, take some pictures, sit and relax. I was in there around an hour before heading back outside to soak up the suns rays, but not before the steep walk down the steps. Be sure to take some time to explore the area. You won’t regret it. It is simply beautiful.
Once back in the sun our group sat with food and old beers, played some chilled music and just relaxed. The younger two members headed to the lagoon to jump off the very high tree ledge into the water. Thanks to my GoPro they have great action pictures plus some from in the water. A few hours later we headed back to the hostel to shower and have a few cheeky Whiskeys to end the day.