When Laos opened its borders to tourism in the 1990’s, Vang Vieng quickly made a reputation for itself thanks to a lively party scene and its scenic surroundings.
Now something of a reformed character, the town still offers a lively party scene to revelers from across the world – whilst catering to an ever-increasing audience of adventurers and affluent backpackers looking for a unique Asia experience.
So whether you fancy exploring the Nam Song River or watching the sun rise from a hot air balloon, here’s an essential list of Vang Vieng hotspots to check out during your time in Laos.
Tubing is by far the most notorious activity available in Vang Vieng. The premise is simple – a donut shaped rubber float, a gentle float downstream and some stop-offs at one of the area’s many bars that line the river. Of the lot, we’d recommend Smile Beach Bar for a beer and a bite. Tubes can be rented in the city center (just ask the friendly locals for directions) and rental includes a ride up to the starting point of your adventure.
Travel for 30 minutes by tuk tuk from the centre of Vang Vieng and be rewarded by the beautiful sights of the Blue Lagoon, which is every bit as beautiful as the name suggests.
Lifejackets are available to rent for children and less confident swimmers while food stalls line the lagoon to cater for hungry swimmers. Once done splashing around, visit the Tham Phu Kham for a glimpse of the iconic reclined Buddha.
Catching sunrise on a hot air balloon ride, taking in sights of the limestone mountains, city and rivers that surround Vang Vieng, is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a holiday in the city. VLT Natural Tours is the region’s preferred operator, also offering balloon rides at sundown for those who favour a late start. While a sundown balloon ride lets you witness the charms of the Vang Vieng come alive as night falls, we’d recommend packing an extra layer to witness the beauty of daybreak from 900 feet in the air.
Vang Vieng Organic Farm is well worth a visit for authentic Laotian cuisine, with all of the produce sourced and prepared on site. The farm also offers tours, farm stays and cooking lessons for those keen on immersing themselves in local culture.
Group dinners at Peeping Som’s are also an option for a group night out, offering a wide selection of meats and seafood to throw over the Korean-styled table barbeque. Proceed with caution when applying the chilli paste dipping sauce – the kick is as fiery as they come!
Viman Vang Vieng is perhaps one of the most popular casual eating joints in town. Owned by Mr Kaz, a German born in Bangkok, it’s perhaps the only restaurant in the city that serves up both a mean Thai Chicken Curry and Schnitzel in the same place!
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