Vang Vieng is a backpacker's highlight! This gem of a town in Laos has got something to suit everyone. The 'Party Backpacker' will love the jungle parties, tubing and crazy nightlife. The 'Adventure Seeker' will be scaling rocky ledges, kayaking rapids and exploring the local area by bicycle. The 'Insta Blogger' will be trying to get the best shot of the Lao children playing in the Nam Song River, hashtagging #Foodporn at Whopping Burger and #nofilter at the Blue Lagoon. Make sure you plan a few nights here to really make the most of Vang Vieng.
Vibe: Vang Vieng's stunning natural scenery and range of adventurous outdoor activities along with its reputation as Laos' wildest party town means the vibe here can be whatever you want it to be! Spend your days mountain biking or kayaking and enjoy a nice meal, a cold beer and the sunset, or spend your days tubing from bar to bar down the river and finishing the night off at the famous jungle party - it's completely up to you!
Must Do: Swim in the Blue Lagoon!
Known for: Vang Vieng is best known as a little river town famous for combining partying and tubing...not always the best idea and it's got a pretty sketchy past thanks to rickety slides, homemade rope swings, inebriation and a river that can flow faster than expected. After more than a few accidents and deaths new regulations were imposed. You still go tubing, it's still fun, it's just not as wild as it once was.
Top things to see and do in Vang Vieng
The Blue Lagoon
Located just a few kms outside of town, the Blue Lagoon, is one of the best swimming holes in Laos. If you're feeling fit you can rent a mountain bike in town and ride there, but be warned - the roads are unsealed, bumpy and often either very dusty or muddy. The easy option is to get a tuk tuk. It's worth the trip though. The Blue Lagoon is a serene natural paradise. The river flows gently out of the jungle into a brilliant blue lagoon. A tree grows over the deepest part of the river and the local kids love to show off by jumping from the highest branch of the tree. It's a lovely spot to spend the afternoon relaxing with friends, or hike up the stairs behind the lagoon to explore the Tham Phu Kham cave. BYO torch!
There are a few places in town to rent inner tubes, and they usually include a tuk tuk ride about 10mins out of town, further up the river. You'll have the day to float down the river surrounded by the beautiful karst mountains. There are still a few bars along the river who'll be more than happy to throw you a rope and pull you in if you need some refreshment.
Head to Tham Nam (Water Cave) for a different tubing experience! You'll sit in a tube in total darkness with only a rope to guide you through the flooded cave system. The trip takes about 20mins. Your Stray Guide can help you sign up for a local tour where you'll get a headlamp and an inner tube.
The rocky Karst Mountains that surround Vang Vieng are the perfect setting for some epic rock climbing! There are a number of tour providers that offer experiences for first-timers right through to old pros!
Explore the Namsong river by Kayak. There a variety of tour options available including some with rapids and one that will almost take you to Vientiane!
For those ready to get their hands dirty, consider a stay at the SAELAO project - a farm run by a local Vang Vieng resident where you can volunteer teaching English, doing garden work and helping with community projects.
Start your night at the Irish Pub or Jaidee's bar, then head to the Moon Pub (on the other side of Vang Vieng's disused airplane runway) when all the bars start to close at 1 and 2 and party with the locals. Or check out the Jungle Project's weekly Jungle Party every Friday night just outside of town. Starting at 10pm and finishing around 3-4am this is one of the best places to get your house music fix. The jungle parties have grown from just a few people in someone's backyard in 2011 to a proper party event.
Eating and Drinking
If you've been enjoying local food from the markets in Luang Prabang, or down by the river in Vientiane, you might be ready for some creature comforts. Vang Vieng is one of the only places in Laos that excels in international cuisine so get your burger/pizza/roast dinner fix!
Gary's Irish Bar
Gary's Irish Bar in the centre of town is a great place to hang out. Spilt over two levels there's a pool table, well priced drinks, nice "homestyle" pub food, big screens to watch the sport, live music nights and friendly staff - what more could you want from a home away from home!
Whopping Burger is just down the road from the Irish pub and is a quieter, softly lit restaurant with huge, fresh, delicious burgers! Don't be surprised if the staff ask to take a picture of you...they proudly add them to their facebook page with the message: "thanks for your coming!"
Le Cafe de Paris
If you're craving mash potatoes, gravy, steak or duck, visit Le Cafe de Paris and transport your tastebuds to France. It's a little more expensive than other restaurants in Vang Vieng but the delicious hearty food and great customer service make it a nice treat.
If you're after fresh, tasty thai/lao food you'll find plenty of options at 7 Haven. The spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken and pancakes come highly recommended!
A few of our favourite things to do in Vang Vieng, whether you’re a party animal or a nature hound.
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