The drive from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, on the much-improved Route 13, follows the valley of the Nam Ngum and then climbs steeply onto the plateau where Vang Vieng is located, 160 km north of Vientiane. The surrounding area is inhabited by the Hmong and Yao hill peoples and is particularly picturesque: craggy karst limestone scenery, riddled with caves, crystal-clear pools and waterfalls. In the early morning the views are reminiscent of a Chinese Sung Dynasty painting.
The town itself is nestled in a valley on the bank of the Nam Song River, amid a misty jungle. It enjoys cooler weather and offers breathtaking views of the imposing mountains of Pha Tang and Phatto Nokham. The town’s laid-back feel has made it a popular haunt for the backpacker crowd, while the surrounding landscape has helped to establish Vang Vieng as Laos’ premier outdoor activity destination, especially for rock climbing, caving and kayaking.
The entrance to Tham Ho is guarded by a large Buddha figure; reportedly the cave continues about 3km...
The most famous of the caves around Vang Vieng, Tham Jang was used as a bunker to defend against marauding...
Tham Jang Cave
Tham Jang Cave (or The Chang cave) is situated on the Southern side of Vang Vieng. If you just follow...
Tham Loup is a large and delightfully untouched cavern with some impressive stalactites. The combined...
Tham Nam is the highlight of the cluster of caves near Vang Vieng. The cave is about 500m long and a...
In the days of old Vang Vieng had a rather wild reputation. The reason for this was that it attracted a young crowd who liked to sample the cheap drinks and swim in the river. Predictably, this led to a number of accidents over the years and in 2012 the local Lao government decided to clean up Vang Vieng’s image. This has meant that Vang Vieng has become a little less wild and a little more focused on cultural activities instead of hard partying.
That said, you can still find an exciting nightlife scene here as well as a huge number of local cafes, eateries and bars. Another key reason to come here is to enjoy the idyllic river scenes and also explore the neighboring limestone caves, many of which have gorgeous swimming holes located inside.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Vang Vieng…
1.Visit Tham Nam
Tham Nam has the claim to fame of being one of the most important and pretty caves in Vang Vieng.
The inner chamber runs for some 500 meters and the Nam Song River has a small offshoot that trickles through the cave.
If you visit during the rainy season you can tube inside the cave, although in the dry season the water levels are usually too low to do this.
As you go through the cave you can check out the stalagmites and stalactites, rock crystals and cave dwelling critters.
One of the activities that Vang Vieng is most famous for is the chance to go tubing down the charming Nam Song River.
Once at the riverside, you can pay a small fee to hire a rubber tube and then float down the river which is also lined with cafes and places to stop off along the way.
You can also just tube in front of a number of restaurants which means that you don’t have to stray too far and you can happily spend the full day floating around and enjoying the majestic yet serene surroundings.
3.Have lunch at the SAE LAO Project
The SAELAO Project is located in Nathang Village which is some 7 kilometers outside of the center of Vang Vieng.
This project was set up to provide sustainable development opportunities for the local community and you can come here to learn about how the volunteers teach English to the villagers, help with organic farming and build sustainable buildings in the area.
You can volunteer to help out at the project if you wish, but if you are just passing through then you can visit the onsite restaurant which is run by the local community and try some toothsome Laotian dishes.
4.Go caving at Tham Loup
Tham Loup, or Tham Loub as it is also known, is one of the more rustic caves which has hardly been touched inside, and this is the reason why many people choose to come here.
The cave is also known for its large collection of stalactites and if you are looking for a more serene and unhurried cave experience then this is a good pick in Vang Vieng.
5.Rent a mountain bike
If you are looking for some transportation in Vang Vieng then look no further than a mountain bike.
This is one of the easiest ways to explore Vang Vieng and you can also rent a bike for as little as KYT 20,000 per day.
Many people choose to ride out to the famous Blue Lagoon Cave or you can also explore the pretty villages outside of Vang Vieng that line the Nam Song River.
If you are feeling adventurous (and active) then you can also go for a ride to the east of Vang Vieng that takes you over gorgeous undulating emerald green hills.
6.Explore Tham Jang
Tham Jang is one of the best known caves in Vang Vieng as it was an important spot in the history of Laos.
This cave was actually the spot of an army bunker when the Chinese invaded Vang Vieng in the 19th century, so history buffs should make sure not to give it a miss.
To get into the cave you will have to walk up a steep set of steps but it is more than worth the additional effort.
7.Go rock climbing
Vang Vieng is surrounded by scenic limestone outcrops and eerie karst formations.
This means that rock climbing is a common pastime here, although you will need to have some level of rock climbing experience and a good level of physical fitness in order to do this safely in Vang Vieng.
If you want to go on a rock climbing adventure, then make sure you do so with one of the established rock climbing schools in town.
Also insist on the proper safety equipment and inspect this before you set off on your climb.
8.Try the grilled meats
If you are looking for something local to eat in Vang Vieng then consider checking out the grilled meat vendors that set up along the water front in the evenings.
They usually sell what is known as beeng moo which is basically barbecued pork or you can also try the naam kow which are balls of rice which are mixed with toothsome pork sausage.
As is the custom with Laotian food, all the food is served with plates that are heaped with local salads, herbs and other aromatics so that you can customize your meal.
9.Visit Tham Sang
Tham Sang is one of the smaller caves in Vang Vieng which is noteworthy as it is the home of several images of the Buddha.
There is also a spot known as the Footprint of the Buddha which is said to be a sacred place in the cave and the inside of the chamber is covered in stalactites.
One of these is said to look like an elephant, after which the cave is named.
If possible try to come here as early as possible as this is when the light in the cave is at its most beautiful.
10.Go kayaking on the river
The main artery running through Vang Vieng is the river and with that in mind many of the activities in town center around this majestic waterway.
If you want to do something a little more exciting than tubing and are looking for an adventure, then you can have a go at kayaking.
One of the main kayaking tours will take you to some of the caves around Vang Vieng, and you can kayak up the river and then continue directly on into the mouth of the caves.
There is usually also time to get out of the kayak and go for a swim which will help you cool off after a long day paddling.
11.Go spelunking at Tham Hoi
Tham Hoi is a distinctive cave in Vang Vieng as it has a sizeable Buddha statue located at the entrance.
The inner chamber of the cave is some 30 kilometers long and is made of limestone.
As with many caves in Vang Vieng it has a small lake inside which makes pretty patterns on the ceiling.
Another main reason to come to this cave is that you get to journey through pretty rice fields as you approach the main entrance.
12.Try zip lining
If you want an adrenalin pumping afternoon in Vang Vieng then you can sign up to go zip lining.
This is a fairly new activity in the region and you can travel to Tham Nam, better known as the Water Cave and then whizz through the air on a zip line.
This is also one of the best ways to get a look out over the jungle canopy that surrounds most of the caves in Vang Vieng.
13.Visit Tham Phu Kham Cave
Tham Phu Kham mean “Blue Lagoon” in Lao and is this is said to be one of the most sacred caves in the country.
As you would expect this also makes it one of the most popular spots to visit in Vang Vieng and it is also known for its azure waters (a nod to the name) and large bronze statue of the Buddha.
To get to the cave you will need to travel from Vang Vieng to Ban Na Thong and then hike to the main mouth.
Once inside you can swim in the lake in a cave or you can also try swimming into the inner chamber on a rope.
14.Go hot air ballooning
In recent years a number of tour companies have been offering hot air balloon rides around Van Vieng.
If you have a head for heights then hop in a basket and float over jade hued rice paddies and past looming limestone outcrops.
This is a great activity if you want to take in Vang Vieng from a completely different vantage point, especially if you plan a ride to coincide with the gorgeous sunsets.
15.Squeeze inside Nam Ou Kham Cave
Nang Ou Kham Cave is one of the less visited caves in Vang Vieng and if you want a more rugged spelunking experience then this is the place to come.
It can be a bit challenging to get inside the cave which has a narrow entrance, but once you manage this you will be rewarded with a large chamber that is more unspoilt than many others that have been developed and adorned with statues in Van Vieng.
There is no river inside the main chamber but it can get quite wet in the rainy season so make sure to plan accordingly.
– Connect with your inner farmer
Connecting with your inner farmer is an interesting activity for those who want to contribute to the community or find themselves delightful in volunteer works.
- It’s an interesting activities for those who love voluntary workds
- You only experience the farming life but also have fun with friendly people
- Best to dive into whatever tasks are on for the day, and then put your feet up and watch the sunset over their fish pond after a job well done.
- The journey may take much time so make sure you have enough time
- Highly recommend to you, don’t miss it
– Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon
The vast Tham Phu Kham is considered sacred by Lao and is popular largely due to the lagoon in the cave. The beautiful green-blue waters are perfect for a dip after the stiff climb.
- The Blue lagoon is a good half day or full day destination.
- The cave is really cool and worth exploring.
- Make sure you jump off the tree.
- There are other activities like zip-line and a decent restaurant.
- Don’t set your expectations to high and it will be very cool and entertaining with lots of Asian people to watch
- 10,000 kip entrance fee and it’s 2000 kip per toilet visit.
– Fat Monkey’s
Fat Monkey’s is a perfect spot for some alcohol-fueled wild nights. A pool table, several beerpong sets and more entertain a young, outgoing crowd 7 days a week. The bar is a really relaxed bar which is definitely worth a visit. There are a pool table and some tables with cushions to sit on.
- It’s a bar where tourists go to play drinking games, chime in with the leader of the shot gun chant
- The owner and her boyfriend are cool, chill and friendly, and they give out free drinks, which is a plus for the patrons and a good reason to go back again.
- The staff are awesome to chat to and the vibe is always really fun.
- The staff are awesome to chat to and the vibe is always really fun.
– Climbing at Pha Poak Mountain
Climbing Pha Poak is a popular activity for many who visit Vang Vieng and it’s an easy walk to the base though more difficult climb to the summit.
- The path is steep so be careful and wear suitable clothes and shoes
- It’s a 30-minute climb from the base of the hill to the summit.
- For some this climb will be impossible, for others it’ll be a walk in the park.
- The view at the peak is first class.
– Tham Chang Cave
Tham Chang Cave is the most famous cave that used as a bunker in defence against marauding jęen hór (Yunnanese Chinese) in the early 19th century
- Is very nice to swim in the water and to jamp from the tree to the water.
- There is a small lagoon out front that you can swim in.
- There is a good view when you get to the top of the cave that looks out on the valley below
- If you bring your own torch you can explore a little deeper into the cave
– Kangaroo Sunset Bar
The Kangaroo sunset bar serves international cuisine, has a pool table, good views of the mountains, and is far enough removed from the other bars and crowds.
- Atmosphere livens up during happy hour when the beer pong table makes an appearance.
- Decent pub grub on offer including Australian, British, European, Thai and Laotian dishes.
- Very reasonably priced and well worth a visit for a game of pong!
- It has a good location, right in the centre
- Well-chosen music adds to the atmosphere.
Vang Vieng is known as the best paradise for backpackers who enjoy a good time in Laos. If you are planning a Lao street food tour, Vang Vieng is the next destination. Feel free and go to explore the new land in Laos. Vang Vieng is not only owned the natural beauty but it also has amazing street foods bring Laos as well as Vang Vieng taste. Set your foot in Vang Vieng, you will wallow in the flavor which makes you lost easily. If you are considering what are the best street foods in Vang Vieng? Here is the best food you should try once.
1.Sandwiches – A Gift from the French in Vang Vieng
Like the gifts from the French friends, holding a delicious freshly baked bread which is an indelible bread. A sandwich which is wrapped in paper or placed in a styrofoam clamshell makes for an easy on the go meal. Upon your interest, you can order more eggs, chicken, or bacon and smothered in gooey cheese to make your bread tastier than your image.
2.Pancake with Condensed Milk in Vang Vieng
Not only do you enjoy the delicious cake, but you also witness the magical show from the transformation of a little ball of dough become fried pancakes is pretty amazing. The assistant smacks the dough into the circle and fried it with an egg to crispy golden perfection. Then, the pancake is cut into bite-sized pieces and drizzled with your topping of choice. Condensed milk is a favorite, but you can opt for Nutella, honey or an assortment of other flavors them eat the pieces out of a bag with a toothpick.
3.Meat on a Stick – Tastiest Food in Vang Vieng
The culture of barbecue in Laos is no exception and Vang Vieng is too. Order a meat popsicle in fish, beef, chicken or pork and it of a bamboo skewer. Eating meat off the street might seem risky but if the stall appears to be clean and the meat is served hot off the coals you won’t have a problem.
4.Coconuts – A Special Drink in Vang Vieng
After a long day of hiking or tubing, drink coconut water is the best way to refresh through a straw fresh from the source. You will find vendors with impressive knife skill using a cleaver to hack the tops of these massive fruits to access the insides. After drinking til the bottom, open the shell to snack on the coconut meat inside.
5.Bagged Ice Coffee – An Unique Style Coffee in Vang Vieng
Drink ice coffee with a cup which is regarded as a normal, however, whenever you heard that drink ice coffee with the bag? Try to the unique style that only in Vang Vieng. Order your iced cup of joe to go and you will get it double bagged in plastic with a straw. Choose a flavor you like such as Ovaltine, chocolate, condensed milk, and sugar. Then, you can enjoy your drink immediately, sip your caffeine fix out of the sack and stroll through the Vang Vieng street.
6.Boiled Peanuts – Amazing Food You Must Try in Vang Vieng
Instead of adding salt and roast as the Western do, the Lao boil their peanuts whole and serve them piping hot in the shell. Grab a bag and take it with your friends which will make your friendship closer. By boiled carefully, the Peanuts is soft on the inside and packed with protein, they have created a great snack on the go.
7.Kanom – The French Hidden Tasty Bread in Vang Vieng
Before leaving in Laos, French left the tradition, the taste of food, especially in bread and pastries. Drop by a coffee shop or on the street, pick up a muffin, doughnut, or pastry to start your day off with a sweet day and provide full of power. “Kanom” in the Lao Language, is the general term for dessert food. Enjoy your breakfast by a “Kaonom” and drink some tea to refresh your day.
Generally speaking the best time to visit Vang Vieng is in the dry season from October to April every year. During these months, temperature is also very comfortable at low and mid 20 Celsius (high 60 to mid 70 Fahrenheit) in the day.
But it also depends on what you want to do. Vang Vieng is known among backpackers for tubing, where you ride a rubber tube down the river while drinking along the way. Today tubing is much less prevalent than 6 years ago, when it peaked and Vang Vieng became notorious for drunk parties and bad safety cause lots of tourists to die.
For tubing: to enjoy tubing, the best time to do so is during the wet summer months (May-September) or the first few months of the dry season (October-mid December). In the later months of the dry season (January – April), the water level may be too low to enjoy tubing comfortably (see more details).
If you like peace and quiet: early rain season (May – July) is a good time to visit because there are far fewer tourists and backpackers around during this time. Rain is obviously an issue but it’s not as bad as July and August. Rain also replenishes all the rivers and lakes around here so you really get the Vang Vieng’s vibe during this time of the year.
Located halfway between political capital Vientiane and UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng is a backpacker mecca. Famous for river tubing, this small, once sleepy town is home to a stretch of bars, restaurants and hangouts that rivals only Khao San Road.
If you’re searching for a quiet, peaceful destination on the way to or from Luang Prabang, you probably won’t find it here. However, if you’re searching for a fun destination for a few days of parties and adventure, Vang Vieng is mightily tough to beat.