Driving from Vientiane to Vang Vieng should take 3.5 hours. However, when you include a lunch and wee stop, in reality it’s rather a 5-hour drive.
Vang Vieng is a real backpacker’s village, with lots of guesthouses and restaurants. Typical for Vang Vieng are its ‘Friends’ bars. Quite a funny concept: in these bars you can watch Friends episodes all day long. Not just in one bar, but in many different bars all over town, tv’s enable you to bingewatch all day long.
Vang Vieng used to be something like the Sodom and Gomorra of South East Asia. However in 2011, things changed because the government decided to ‘clear up’ the village.
What’s hot in Vang Vieng is the so-called ‘tubing’ — and it’s as simple as it’s genious. When you go tubing, you jump into a minivan which will then drop you off some place upstream near the river. You sit down in and old truck tire, which then takes you on a gentle journey down the river. You pass through beautiful landscapes at an easy speed, without you having to paddle or the sound of a boat engine ruining the peace and quiet. And when you want to take a break, there’s lots of bars alongside the riverbank where you can strand with your tire and enjoy the view with a cocktail in your hand.
Vang Vieng is changing though. The once popular tubing has been curbed to the background and backpackers are making room for Asian tourists — who don’t like tubing as much as kayaking.
Apart from that, Vang Vieng is a bit like a sleeping village. The surroundings are stunning and especially enjoyable to cycle through. In the village, there are many trips organized to the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’. According to the promising pictures on tour brochures, the Blue Lagoon should be a pristine blue lake, while in reality it’s a muddy pool overcrowded by noisy tourists and crammed with too many food stalls and bars at the shoreline.
Our advice? Go enjoy a rejuvenating bike ride to the lagoon, have a look around and then just turn back. Or choose another day destination…