Partycapital of Laos – Vang Vieng!!
If there is one place in south east asia where the party never stops it’s gotta be Vang Vieng.. Vang Vieng is actually a pretty small town about 3,5 hours north of Vientiane (the capital of Laos), and considering that Laos is a communist regime you wouldn’t think that Vang Vieng could be the party haven it is. The thing that has turned Vang Vieng from a sleepy town, into a buzzing place easily compared to party locations in Europe, is the simple combinations of tubing and party hungry backpackers. Alright, you probably don’t know what tubing is, but here’s a quick explanation. Tubing has basically turned the river that runs through Vang Vieng into a party scene worthy of mentioning along the likes of the fullmoon parties of Thailand and silent parties of Goa.
Tubing consists of taking a taxi up north of Vang Vieng to the first of many bars that dots the riverside all the way down again to Vang Vieng. It’s literally a circurs. Getting to the first bar is an absolute adventure. You go from driving through palm fringed landscapes with rice fields covering the horisont to an absolute caotic riverside scene with loud thumping music and backpackers dancing to the latest beats from around the world. Every bar has made their version of a giant swing that you’ve probably seen on my last video post, orthers have simply made places to jump in the water, slide in or race down a glider on a wire towards the surface 5 metres down. In retrospect it’s probably not the wisest thing to do after drinking a few of the local buckets. They are similar to the one in Thailand, only that these are stronger and cheaper.. For a bunch of norwegians the opportunity of buying alcohol at bargain prices is just too good to be true.. and in the end it can only end in disaster 🙂
The tubing trail consists of around 7 bars where they throw plastic bottles out to you on a rope to pull you in. We ended up being quite a large group after Veronica, Megan, Meg, Sarah, Gabby, Lynsey and Joe came down from Luang Prabang the day after we did. We found a cool guesthouse, Babylon. that was smack in the middle of town and had a bar, a relax area and a tv with 400 movies and tv series. It was the perfect place to chill out after tubing 🙂 It was an awesome gang to go tubing with and we had so much fun. Almost everyone tried the swings although Megan stopped after releasing way too early and landing flat down on her stomach… She was so bruised! In retrospect it was funny, but right there and then she was comparing it to the pains of childbirth, so I guess seeing the humour in it then is a bit hard.. She was a trooper though and sucked it up, going at it for the rest of the tubing.
We started around 14.00 which was in our opinion a bit late. I would recommend starting around 12.00 to get the most of it, as we arrived back at the tuk-tuk place when the sun had already dipped behind the horizon. We ended up walking all the way back as the drivers were charging double the price for half the distance as we had paid earlier to get to the starting location. So there we were, Karl Kristian, Eli, Gabby, Megan and me walking all the way back to the city centre in pitch black darkness while it was raining! It wasn’t as bad as it sounds although not wearing shoes doesn’t really help.. but we had a good time and somehow managed to walk straight back to our guesthouse in a foreign country in the middle of the night! Yay for us! After getting back we changed our clothes and headed out to eat before we went down to the riverside to continue soaking in the nightlife. I caved in at 1am after 12 hours of non stop partying and the last of our gang trickled in at around 2:30. Btw, the norwegians kicked canadian ass as the canadians were all in bed before 9pm
Vang Vieng is famous for it’s relaxed drug vibe as you can get high on mostly everything here. You can get pretty much any food or drinks made “Happy” which should not be confused with extra pepperoni on your pizza… It literally means that they put a coctail of whatever they can get their hands on that gives you a trip. We heard rumours of everything from amphetamines, LSD and so on being in those coctails. The opportunity to do mushrooms was also there, giving a reasonable explanation why some of the expats behaved weirdly as they probably had done a few too many of them.. We on the other hand stuck to alcohol and were happy with that! Drugs are, like in most countries, prohibited and we actually met a guy that had been at the location of a shakeup by the police. In the end you can choose between paying 600 USD or spending 3 months in jail. If there’s one thing I don’t want to do on this trip it’s to spend 3 months in a Laos prison… Being somebody’s bitch issn’t really my cup of tea… The fact that you depend on friends and family to come and feed you trough the fence (They dont give you food in Lao jail.) is another aspect that makes it less appealing.
The city itself is built around tourism and that’s about it! But a lot of people visiting for the tubing experience can easily overlook the natural beauty of the place and all the possibilities for action sports that comes with the limestone cliff and rivers around the city. The possibility to do kayacking, rock climbing, canyoning, rafting, motorbike safaris and many other activities are abundant. As Eli and me arrived one day earlier in Vang Vieng to meet up with Karl Kristian, we figured we would book a day of climbing in the surrounding cliffs. There are several tour operators available, but we ended up with choosing Green Discovery as it looked like they had well trained guides, good equipment and also the fact that most of the money went back to local projects in Laos. We payed around 147 000 kip for a full day of climbing including lunch and equipment.
As we headed out the next day, Karl Kristian and me decided to go head to head and find out who was the best climber. We still don’t have a winner though as we failed at the exact same points and both of us managed to climb the same routes. The climbing in Vang Vieng was suprisingly good with a large number of climb sites ranging from absolute begginer to full day climbes up to a 150m. We obviously didn’t climb that high… Our guide Khong and his assistant had both been climbing for little over five months, but they were both awesome climbers and almost ran up the cliff face to places that we had no hope of reaching. In the end we mastered a 6a route but failed at climbing a 6a+ route that proved too hard for all of us. Lunch was good and it gave us some time to rest our by now very tired muscles… I still had problems squeezing my water bottle two days later due to my lower arms being severly overstrained. So we definently recommend using your time in Vang Vieng for more than just the tubing. Tubing is on the other hand essential!! Another tip is to do the climbing before the tubing, as tubing will leave your scratched, bruised and hung over for a few days 🙂