a mini vang vieng, LAos travel guide
I’m finally writing a Vang Vieng travel guide after spending over a month in Laos last summer. Vang Vieng was one if not my favorite destination I visited in this land locked Southeast Asian country. Situated between Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and China this country often gets skipped while traveling throughout this area.
Vang Vieng has the wow factor, the town is jaw droppingly beautiful. Tall dramatic limestone cliffs jut into the sky as the Nam Song River cuts through the town. This is a popular destination for outdoor adventure including tubing, hiking and rock climbing.
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vang vieng travel guide
How to Get There
Vang Vieng is located in the middle of Laos so getting here takes some time and forethought. There is a small airport in the middle of the town that you can fly into (most expensive) but most people arrive by bus. You are probably coming from northern Laos. Buses from Luang Prabang take 4-5 hours and Vientiane 3-4 hours. Roads aren’t the best as most are unpaved and full of pot holes. But hey it gets you to your destination right?
When to Go
Rainy season is during the summer months May through September. This means that it pours rain every day for at least a couple hours. This makes the sidewalks very muddy as they are roughly paved.
November to February are nice months to travel but will cold at night in the mountains. March and April are the warmest months.
Average Daily Costs
At the time of writing this when I was here the conversion rate was about 8,000 KIP to 1 USD. U.S. Dollars were also widely accepted.
Dorm bed around 40,000 KIP
Basic double bed with a fan 100,000 KIP
Nicer private room with A/C 150,000 KIP
Fruit shake 10,000 -15,000 KIP
Big beer Lao 15,000 KIP
Street food baguette sandwich 15,000 KIP
Sit down meal chicken curry & rice 40,000 KIP
Cocktails 40,000 KIP
Happy pizza (yes you read the right) 110,000 KIP
Tubing 60,000 KIP
Blue Lagoon 10,000 KIP
Tuk tuk ride 30,000 KIP
Joint 30,000 KIP
Bag of weed 300,000
This being said its obviously is more expensive if you like to party. Vang Vieng is a party town. It has been cracked down a bit in the past couple years and the party scene isn’t as rambunctious as it used to be but if you are looking for it, you’ll find it. There are a few bars in town where you can order basically anything you want. Ask for the “happy menu”.
Where to Stay
Rock Backpacker hostel
basic room or dorm bed with a fun atmosphere and a fun game and common area.
Nice relaxed tv area and offers single, double, or triple room with shared facilities.
Simon Riverside Hotel
Located on the river with phenomenal views.
Vieng Tara Villa
Mountain or river view bungalow. Great place to enjoy your morning coffee or tea. Clean and comfortable.
Phoxay Ngam Resort
Located about 10 minutes outside of Vang Vienna this resort. Small boutique hotel with beautiful views, location and price.
A bit luxurious for the town, complete with great views and a huge breakfast. An excellent choice on this Vang Vieng travel guide.
Riverside Boutique Resort
Located on the banks of the Nam Song river has the best views in town complete with a pool and a spa. Prices start at $110 per night.
Where to Eat
What to Do
This is the main reason that backpackers flock here. This attraction used to be a giant ‘rager’ at all times. You rent a tube, get dropped off a couple miles north of town. You will then float down the Nam Song River getting lassoed in by people so you can come to there bar along the river and drink. Rope swings and slides used to dot the riverbanks but these have claimed a few lives over the years and have since been taken down. Now only a few bars line the river. Although its not the large production that it once was its still a highlights of most peoples trip to Vang Vieng.
Rent a Buggy
You’ll see many shops where you can rent a “dune buggy” and explore the area around Vang Vieng. Theres a 24 kilometer loop that has 4 different viewpoints to stop at and go for a hike. I traveled here during rainy season so being on 4 wheels and romping through the mud made this activity much more enjoyable. I haven’t played in the mud like that since I was a child and it was liberating.
It cost 400,000 to 600,000 KIP to rent the buggy. Choose quality over quantity, you’ll be glad you it. It also costs 5,000 KIP per person to go to each different viewpoint. Most of the viewpoints require you to hike up to which leads me to our next topic.
I was looking forward to this when I was planning to travel here. Traveling here during rainy season made this adventure particularly difficult. The viewpoints that I mentioned earlier were reached by climbing up the fairly steep limestone mountains. It rained every day of the week that we were here and this made the trails very muddy. If hiking is a top priority make sure you come here during dry season.
The most enjoyable cave is Pho Thao. The cave is full of stalagmites and stalactites and you can explore it for over a mile. There will be times that you’ll be in water up to chest deep so make sure you wear clothes that will be comfortable in the water. A dry bag is necessary to keep your belongings dry.
Vang Vieng is a popular destination for rock climbers. There are several tour companies that will take you out for half day and day climbs.
Essentials to Pack
→ Swim Suit
→ Water shorts for over your suit
→ Dry Bag for your belongings
→ Flip Flops or as we call it in Hawaii ‘slippas’.