Heading to Laos and curious as to what there is to do in Vang Vieng? Smack dab in the middle of limestone mountains, next to the Nam Song River and a few magical caves, you won’t go bored here! Keep reading to uncover the 7 most incredible things to do in Vang Vieng, Laos.
A small town in Northern Laos, Vang Vieng is a not-so-quiet place surrounded by striking limestone mountains, the glorious Nam Song River, and wondrous caves.
While the town itself isn’t much of a gem (it’s pretty boring except for the dirty, yet fun club of Viva Pub), Vang Vieng is filled with natural wonders, adventurous backpackers, and wild party-hunters.
Ever since the Laos government opened the borders of the beautiful country to curious foreigners, the little town’s laid-back days and whiskey-filled nights has lured in travelers from around the world. So, if you ever stumble across this tiny town in Laos, you’ll find yourself surrounded by beauty (and probably more than a few drunk backpackers).
P.S. Wondering where to stay in Vang Vieng? We stayed at the Army Barracks Hostel and loved it! (Psst, they give out FREE alcohol! Whaaat.)
Although, if you’re considering visiting Vang Vieng, don’t do what I did…
Which is totally lose track of time by having one too many vodka soda drinks at the many bars, dancing all throughout the night, waking up in the early afternoons, and taking advantage of the free evening drinks! Why? Because by doing so, I totally accidentally spent like a week in Vang Vieng. Whoops!
In spite of the fact that this messed up my Southeast Asia travel itinerary, Vang Vieng is a beautiful place to lose all sense of time and space! I mean, with the blue lagoons, tubing, cool fellow backpackers, parties, and limestone mountains, it’s pretty awesome.
Anyways, if you’re planning a trip here or are already in the town, here are 7 incredible things to do in Vang Vieng, Laos! And make sure to not miss out on #4, as it’s likely the most popular activity to do!
Table of Contents
- 1 7 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN VANG VIENG, LAOS
- 1.1 1. Hit up the (not-so) blue lagoons for a nice swim.
- 1.2 2. Load up on some free whiskey.
- 1.3 3. Trek up to the nearby caves.
- 1.4 4. Go tubing down the Nam Song river.
- 1.5 5. Avoid doing the local drugs.
- 1.6 6. Chill out and have a drink on the river.
- 1.7 7. Rent a motorbike and just explore the area.
- 2 Vang Vieng Attractions Map
- 3 What You Need to Know About Vang Vieng
7 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN VANG VIENG, LAOS
Pssssst, hey! Do keep in mind this list is in no particular order — just in the way the thoughts and list items came to my wanderful brain! But if you’re limited with time, I’d recommend going with #2, #4, and #7, as they’re the best things to do in Vang Vieng.
1. Hit up the (not-so) blue lagoons for a nice swim.
Around the area of Vang Vieng, visitors can find a few different “blue” lagoons. Although, unless it hasn’t rained in the past week or so, don’t expect them to be very blue! They’re more likely going to be a shade of blue-grey with a hint of brown. But nonetheless, they’re still worth a visit.
I’d recommend visiting the two most popular blue lagoons (this one and this one) if you have the time but if you can only visit one, make sure you go to the less popular one (but heck, both can easily be visited in a day and it’s one of the must-visit Vang Vieng attractions.
There’s also a new one called the Blue Lagoon 3, which is a man-made concrete “lagoon” (it’s a pool) and cost 10k to get in. Although, according some reviews the road to this Vang Vieng lagoons can be difficult to navigate — but that’s pretty much standard with any Laos countryside road, so what can ya do?
Anyways, if you want to visit the blue lagoon that’s my favorite, here’s my directions: while making your way to the blue lagoons, you’ll end up coming about a fork in the road. Most people will go right but go left instead and you’ll come to the better blue lagoon in Vang Vieng (this is also the road that leads to the new one — aka Blue Lagoon 3).
This is a good time to mention, if you’re thinking of doing some tubing and partying in Vang Vieng (which you most likely will be), consider getting travel insurance — even if you’re already traveling! World Nomads travel insurance is my absolute favorite. You can click here to visit their website to get a quote OR click here to check out my page on why I trust World Nomads to have my back.
2. Load up on some free whiskey.
At most hostels in Vang Vieng, they hand out free whiskey in the evenings. Usually it’s from around 6 pm to 9 pm and it’s – of course – the cheapest whiskey you can purchase.
Additionally, once you’ve loaded up on free hostel whiskey, head down the streets of Vang Vieng to check out the banging clubs and pubs — which also usually hand out free whiskey. Viva Pub is by far the most fun — go there and dance your ass off. I ended up going there nearly 6 nights in a row… whoops!
3. Trek up to the nearby caves.
At the more popular blue lagoon, which is to the right at the fork in the road, there’s a large cave visitors can explore called the Tham Phu Kham Cave. It’s pretty cool — there’s a Buddhist Shrine in the middle of the cave (featured in the photo above) and you can go back pretty far into it. And while we were visiting, there were no other people hiking up or in the cave so we had the entire thing to ourselves. Win!
Before going up, some people will likely try to sell you headlamps but they’re not necessary; an iPhone flashlight will suffice.
Additionally, the hike up to the cave was pretty intense — and very steep — so if you visit, be prepared! I thought my chest was going to burst and my legs were close to giving out but that’s probably just because I need to exercise more and I’m clumsy AF.
If you ever wondering what to do in Vang Vieng and haven’t been to any caves yet, this is definitely one of my personal favorite places to go!
4. Go tubing down the Nam Song river.
Tubing in Vang Vieng is probably at the top of everyone’s list of things to do! Even though visitors can only go for a short time now, tubing down the Nam Song River is still really fun and a great way to cool off in the hot Laos sun!
Before the tubing pub crawl was only two bars, there used to be two different routes people could take; one route had about 20 something bars (or so I’ve heard) and the other had about 7. Both of those tubing adventures have been closed due to people becoming too intoxicated and either getting seriously hurt or drowning.
Although the other pub-river crawls have been shut down, the one visitors can do today is still just as fun! At the end of the tubing, you stop at a bar where you can play beer pong, volleyball, or just have a drink, sit back, and relax.
5. Avoid doing the local drugs.
In Vang Vieng, you’ll find multiple bars that hand out various drugs like mushrooms, marijuana, opium, MDMA, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) balloons, and more.
Though, I wouldn’t recommend taking anything you’re not sure of; a couple of the guys I was traveling with attempted to buy some pills of MDMA and it ended up not being that at all. Someone told them it was actually a form a meth, but who knows if that’s true either, right?
Even worse, I had some not-so-tasty mushroom tea and a mushroom shake (yes, yes, I now know it was way too much — moving on). While it was only 4 in the afternoon, Sophie (aka me) went on a little ride to time loop city! I also experienced awful nausea, throwing up, hallucinating bugs crawling on the walls, and forgot where I was. I’m scarred for life, y’all.
Again, even crazier, a group of Brits that were staying at the same hostel as us were arrested and taking into custody for smoking weed. They were detained and had to pay $600 USD to get their passports back and be released. Whoa! Not fun.
So, case in point, maybe just stay away from drugs and stick to drinking the free whiskey. It’s a win-win situation! Just focus on all the other awesome things to do in Vang Vieng and keep yourself safe.
Is the quiet capital of Laos next on your list? Check out the top things you shouldn’t miss in Vientiane.
6. Chill out and have a drink on the river.
There are multiple bars along the Nam Song River and each one usually has a great view, as well as a great atmosphere! Most will have awesome drinks, at pretty good prices as well, and cool things to do.
A bar we hung out at had sweet hammocks along the river; we just chilled out all day swinging about drinking tasty coconut and rum cocktails. It was pure bliss!
Definitely give this a go if you have a spare afternoon to just rest and relax, as it’s one of the more underrated activities to do in Vang Vieng.
7. Rent a motorbike and just explore the area.
Thinking of heading to Laos’ neighboring country of Cambodia? Here’s everything you need to know to make traveling there easier!
The area around Vang Vieng is absolutely beautiful. Surrounded by towering limestone rocks, lush jungle, gorgeous greenery, and shimmering rice paddies… this incredible experience will take your breath away.
If you do nothing else, at least do yourself a favor and explore the area around Vang Vieng by motorbike! The scenery in this part of Laos is absolutely stunning and it’s 100% worth taking the time to just wander around.
Hands down, this is one of the best things to do in Vang Vieng!
Backpacking Southeast Asia? Even if you’re already here, don’t forget to check out my 4-part Southeast Asia backpacking travel guide!
Vang Vieng Attractions Map
What You Need to Know About Vang Vieng
What’s the Weather Like in Vang Vieng?
Typically, the weather in Vang Vieng is quite hot and humid — and it doesn’t vary much throughout the year. Temperatures hover around mid-80s to mid-90s °F (mid-20s to mid-30s °C).
Also, don’t be afraid of Laos rainy (monsoon) season! It rarely rains all day — typically only throwing down copious amounts of rain for a short period of time in the day (this is the same in Cambodia, if you’re also heading there!).
Is Vang Vieng Safe?
If you’re wondering how safe is Vang Vieng… it’s very safe! No joke, most of the town is foreigners who only want to have a good time. I’ve walked alone multiple times from the bars back to my hostel and haven’t ran into any trouble.
Although, this town only gets a bit unsafe if you make the decision to do questionable drugs — which I’ve mentioned above! Additionally, if you’re planning on getting extremely wasted while tubing down the river (which is a bit hard nowadays with the bar restrictions), this can definitely put your safety as risk. Just take ‘er easy!
On another note, a very real and serious question about this little tiny town in Laos is regarding Vang Vieng deaths… and while this was a problem in the past, this party paradise isn’t what it was a few years ago. The government has really cracked down on illicit drugs and, as mentioned earlier, the tubing scene has calmed down immensely.
Where is Vang Vieng?
Vang Vieng is located in the northern part of Laos, just below Luang Prabang, which is smack dab in the middle of Northern Laos. Also, if you’re thinking of taking a bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng (or vice versa), it takes around 5-6 hours on a bus!
On the other hand, if you’re wondering how to get from Vientiane to Vang Vieng (or vice versa), you can grab a super cheap bus and it takes around 3-4 hours.
Where to Party in Vang Vieng?
A few good bars/clubs include:
- Viva Pub (my personal fav)
- Full Moon Bar
- Gary’s Irish Pub
- Sakura Bar
- Smile Bar (great for chilling at in the middle of the day because of their hammocks and refreshing drinks!)
- Jaidee’s Bar
What to Wear During Vang Vieng Tubing?
If you’re a female, consider getting yourself a one-piece swimsuit! Because no woman wants to have her top thrown off while on a fast-moving tube, eh?
And if you’re a male, swim trunks and a tank top does just fine. Since you’ll end up at a couple bars, having a top on is quite helpful.
Also, if you’re prone to getting burnt, don’t forget sunscreen (reef-safe sunscreen is best)!
Where to Stay in Vang Vieng?
I personally stayed at two different places: the Chillao Youth Hostel and the Army Barracks Hostel. The Chillao one was pretty gross, if I’m being honest, which is why we left and headed to the Army Barracks Hostel… which was SO much better!
You get free alcohol in the evenings, the owner and family are incredibly welcoming and friendly, it’s a short stroll to Vang Vieng’s center (ahem *Viva Pub 😉), and everything is super duper clean and comfortable. Highly recommend!
If you want more options on hostels and hotels in Vang Vieng, here’s a quick list of great places:
- Bliss Guest House
- VangVieng Rock Backpacker Hostel
- Jennin Backpackers Guesthouse
- Jasmine Vangvieng Hotel
- Nice View Guesthouse
There you have it, my list of 7 awesome things to do in Vang Vieng, Laos, as well as what you need to know about the party town and where to stay! If you’re still looking for more activities that I can’t recommend (as I haven’t done any other Vang Vieng activities), take a look at my fellow blogger Nina’s post on Vang Vieng here!
Have you ever been here? What other things to do in Vang Vieng shall I add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t you dare hit that exit button yet! Heading to Vientiane next? Check this out: Best Things to Do in Vientiane, Laos
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