Nice scenery, shame about the town!!!
Vang Vieng Travel Blog› entry 13 of 16 › view all entries
The trip down to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang was pretty easy, however neither N or I risked the roadside lunch!! The drive was beautiful, weaving in and out of the mountains passing lots of villages. We knew we were getting close to Vang Vieng once the famous limestone casts started to dramatically rise up.
Having read a pretty mixed reviews about Vang Vieng, I really wasn't sure what to expect, however we certainly weren't expecting our first impression. We were dropped off in the middle of this massive car park with a few shops dotted around... "Was this the town??? Surely not!!!" must have been running through both our minds at the same time.
Due to being high season, we were really concerned about getting accommodation sorted quickly, Luang Prabang hadn't proved to be easy in getting accommodation, and most backpackers move down to Vang Vieng having had a couple of days there.
We found a nice hotel right on the banks for the river... the views were spectacular! Although we were paying a bit more than we expected, the setting was beautiful and we had a great room, but just for 2 days. Once settled we decided to have a wander around the town, hoping it would shape up to having a bit more character than our first impression.
Well it got better, but not a lot. Bascially Vang Vieng is a students paradise - cheap bear, cheap food and bars dedicated to slobbing - seriously, they have bars set up around a telly featuring constant reruns of Friends... my, how we felt old and decidedly snobby wandering around!!! We quickly decided that Vang Vieng must just be about the scenery and the activities you can do - obviously the renown tubing! So we decided to do that the very next day.
Getting hold of two tubes was no problem, our only decision of the day was decide how far to drift down stream - as virgins, we decided to do just 5KM. We started at about 11am, so the heat of the day wasn't far away. The river was beautifully quiet, we felt we were the only ones on there for the first 15mins or so. Gently drifting down stream was lovely.. passing a few kids and villagers on the way. Life could easily seem idyllic living around Vang Vieng, from a tube on the river.
We got off for a beer at the first bar.. the sun was really beating down and the deck of the bar was perfect. There were a few swings to launch ourself off from but neither N or I were brave enough. After our break, the bars all of a sudden started to come thick and fast and all this sitting about in a tube was getting a bit tiring afterall.
We sat at the loudest bar with the biggest swings.. loads of backpackers necking beers and taking on the zip wires and swings set up across the river... was good fun, perhaps our student days weren't that far behind us afterall. After quite a few beers later we decided to head for the finish line. We did complete the full 5km, most people seem to finish at the bars and grab a tuk tuk back to town ( a bit worse of wear). We toughed it out though, was getting a bit cold by the time we arrived at the finish line at about 4.30ish. We'd had a good day, and were feeling good about being in Vang Vieng.
Unfortunately the tubing was where the fun stopped! We moved on to our next hotel and there I started to suffer dreadful diahorrea and continued to do so for the next 2 days meaning that all trips were off.
So, we were move than relieved to be leaving Vang Vieng. A real shame we didn't see more of the countryside, but we were happy with the walking and driving around Pai we'd done only a week ago - so we didn't feel too bad about it. Having now made our decision to go to Switzerland we were excited at the prospect of getting on with our next challenge, plus looking forward to some civilisation in Vientiane.