Vang Vieng was once a crazy party town dominated by wild backpackers, but it has been reborn. This town is now a calm oasis for enjoying nature, jungle hikes, and lazy days cooling off in the river. You are surrounded by limestone cliffs and lush greenery- it's impossible not to be astounded by all of the natural beauty this place has to offer. It's definitely a place where there are lots of active activities to enjoy (hiking, kayaking, swimming, etc.), so I recommend at least 4 days to soak up all this town has to offer!
You'll most likely arrive by bus from either Vientiane or Luang Prabang, which are both 4 hour journeys. The city of Vang Vieng is very small, so most likely you can just walk from the bus drop-off point to your hostel. Grab free wifi from the bus office, and be on your way!
Again, the city is very small so there isn't really a "bad location." Just make sure if you have 2 people to check the prices for guesthouses/hotels over hostels! It ended up being cheaper for 2 of us to get our own private room in a hotel then it was for 2 beds in a 6 person dorm room. I recommend Nanthy Mountain Hotel, or something near it. It's 60,000 KIP (About $6 USD) for a private room with a bathroom, and the area around it (food, bus tickets, laundry, etc.) is considerably cheaper than 1 street up on the main road. Plus, you get mountain views!
What to do
Pha Ngeun Viewpoint
One of the best viewpoints in the area! You can easily reach the bottom of the hike by bicycle; it's only about 4km from the town center. When you arrive, a lady will come out of her house and make you pay her 10,000 KIP (a scam, I know) and then you're on your way. The hike is very steep & pretty intense, especially during the wet season when there's lots of mud and slippery rocks. But total it will take about an hour to get to the top and the view is incredible!
Nam Xay Viewpoint
Probably the most famous viewpoint in Vang Vieng. You know that picture you've seen a thousand times on your IG feed of a motorcycle on the top of a mountain with luscious green views all around? That's the one! The hike is pretty steep and gets very slippery in the wet season, so be careful. You can easily ride your bicycle to the bottom of the hike (right next to Blue Lagoon 1), it's about 4-5km. Someone will also sit at a "ticket booth" and charge you 10,000 KIP to start the hike.
There are actually multiple Blue Lagoons here! (Crazy, right? I thought there was only 1!) But there are three main ones that most people go to, referred to as: Blue Lagoon 1, 2, & 3. Each lagoon has an entrance fee of 10,000 KIP.
> Blue Lagoon 1 is the closest to town, therefore the most popular. It is the most well-known lagoon, which means lots of tourists flock to this location. If you book a tour of Vang Vieng and it includes the Blue Lagoon, it is most likely this one. You can also visit Tham Phu Kham Cave while you're here!
> Blue Lagoon 2 is located about 7km SW of Blue Lagoon 1, and has multiple different pools to swim in. There are no mountains around this pool, so typically it is the sunniest. There are small ziplines, swings, and platforms you can use during your visit!
> Blue Lagoon 3, which in my opinion is the most beautiful. It is quite far from town, on a sketchy dirt road with lots of pot holes, mud patches, and wooden bridges. Although I rent motorbikes a lot, this one was HARD. (Crashed twice and have the scars to prove it!) So if you're not comfortable riding a motorbike in these conditions, rent a buggy car or hire a tuktuk driver. Since it is quite hard to get to, you get a more tranquil experience because not many people are there. It is quiet, peaceful, and absolutely beautiful. There is a small zipline and rope swing which is a lot of fun!
Kaeng Nyui Waterfall
This is a 30-meter high waterfall about 7km outside of the city. I rented a bicycle and got there in about an hour from town. However, it was an EXTREME bike ride. It's all uphill, muddy, and covered with rocks. If that doesn't seem doable for you, hire a tuktuk!. Regardless of how you get there, it's one of the most beautiful sites in Vang Vieng. It's a MUST!
A cave located only 1.7km from the city, you can easily walk or ride a bike. You must cross the infamous orange bridge that goes across the Nam Song river. It costs 20,000 KIP to cross the bridge and enter the cave!
Walking Street Night Market
Another night market, with your typical clothing and trinkets being sold. It's quite small (only 1 street), but still nice to walk around after you've had dinner.
Vang Vieng has so many options for outdoor activities! You can:
- Go rock climbing
- Rent dune buggies/ATVs
- Rent mopeds/motorcycles
- Go kayaking
- Go river tubing
- Go in a hot air balloon
Feed your adrenaline junkie-self and try out as many as you can! WHY NOT?
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