The tubing is fine, but the caves at Vang Vieng are better
Vang Vieng is located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane and by the Nam Song River. The surroundings of the city of Vang Vieng are characterized by its karst landscape very similar to that one can find in the Vietnamese city of Ninh Binh.
Tubing is the favorite attraction of many foreigners in Vang Vieng. Tubing basically consists of going down the river with a float while stopping at bars on the shore to get drunk. Normally it is the first thing everyone does when they arrive, but in our case, we leave it to the last day. First of all we wanted to see the surroundings of the city and not lose our days because of the hangover. In the end, it turned out that what surprised us most in our visit to Vang Vieng were the caves. Here I tell you about our experience.
What to do in Vang Vieng?
1. Rent a bike to visit the surroundings of Vang Vieng
We rented a bike at our hostel and spent two days riding around enjoying the beautiful scenery full of mountains, rivers and meadows. The surroundings of Vang Vieng are also full of humble villages that are worth a quick visit. It is best to ask for a map at your accommodation and get lost in the mountains for a couple of days.
2. Visit to the caves of Vang Vieng
But the best thing about Vang Vieng is its large caves, which are hidden in the bowels of the mountains. If you go to see caves, remember to always carry a flashlight as there is not a single light inside and you do not go with a guide. You only pay the entrance fee, which is about one euro, and you go deep into the caves. We have had the odd scare; a lantern for three people, as happened to us one day, is not very advisable.
Only in one cave, the Khan Cave, we were accompanied by a “guide” because we could not even find the entrance. That “guide” was none other than the same person who sold the ticket. In the end, we were lucky that he came as that cave was a maze. There were stretches where you had to go on all fours or just lie down. One piece of advice: don’t go if you’re claustrophobic or panicked about spiders.
3. Tubing – What is Tubing and what does it consist of?
To finish our trip to Vang Vieng, once we had seen the most important things around, we finally went tubing. Basically, first you have to pay five euros for a giant float (shaped like a wheel), plus six euros deposit in case you lose it. They take you three kilometers north of the city in a tuk-tuk, which in theory you will later go down the river.
When you arrive, there are three bars on the riverbank, two on the left and one on the right. These are the bars where the whole party takes place. We spend from twelve to four in the afternoon in those bars. At most we go down 50 meters with the tubing to the other bar.
Many people come directly without a float, and when it starts to get dark they steal them to return it and win 5 euros. As soon as we saw that the floats were starting to disappear and that it was getting dark, we started to go down the river with the float. The next two bars we found were half empty so before nightfall we took a tuk-tuk back to town. Result: quite a lot of drinking, good atmosphere and little tubing.
If you go tubing you have to be careful as 14 people have died this year (2011) drowning because they got lost drunk in the river during the night. As of today (2018) tubing is banned because of the deaths. Even so, it is known that it is still done unofficially.
Next Destination: Trip from Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Undoubtedly, we were right to give priority to the caves. Along with the bike rides between villages and mountains, by far, my best memory of Vang Vieng was the walks in the caves. After visiting Vang Vieng, we went to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, which would be my last stay in a Laos city before going to China.
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