Vang Vieng is like no place on earth, but you have to visit to decide if that’s a good or bad thing. At first sight it looks like a small, sleepy, slightly run-down town running parallel to river Nam Song. The banks of the river are flanked by towering limescale mountains and it’s under these that a rash of hotels, guest houses and impossibly cheap restaurants have opened. There’s also an old airstrip just outside town that was used by the America’s planes during the Vietnam war
Originally it was the scenery that attracted people to Vang Vieng, but over the years it has become a Mecca for travellers to come and party along the river as if the end of the world is nigh. What Vang Vieng is famous for is tubing, let me explain.
For £4, you can hire a large inner tube from the centre of town. Included in the price is a tuk-tuk that will take you about 15 minutes out of town and drop you besides the river. Your mission is to float downstream to town, which should take about three hours. The only obstacle to achieving this objective is that along the river have opened 15-20 bars offering free shots of local whiskey, cheap beer, cocktails and a variety of river swings and slides distracting you from your journey. Many people don’t make it more than a few hundred metres downstream and spend the day getting insanely drunk, dancing the day away. It has to be seen to be believed.
We decided on the first day we would complete the full float back to town, so we started early around 12pm. En route, the bars will throw a rope out to you and pull you into the bars and we managed a fair few beers along the way, getting back into town around 3.30pm. Then we dumped the tubes and headed straight back to the bars for some fun.
It has to be mentioned there is slightly darker side to the entertainment, on the flip side of every bar menu you will find the “special” menu. Various manifestations of opium, magic mushrooms and weed are offered openly. This just adds to the carnage, there are kids everywhere out of their minds.. if your still not sure check this link
The next day is Rich’s birthday, so we book a really nice bungalow on the river front, get cakes and wine and have a reasonably relaxed day.
Two days is enough for us here, as we’re feeling a little old amongst the hoards of Australians on ‘schoolies’ (like Spring break in the States), although we did have some interesting offers to stay…(will fill you in later Alexis)
Thinking we are hardened bus travellers we book a ticket from Vang Vieng straight through the Vietnam border to Hanoi. From a roadside agent. Mistake.