Me floating down the Nam Song river
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia)
After several months of eating rice and noodles and watching TV only when our room afforded us the pleasure, Vang Vieng came as a refreshing place to catch up on things i missed. First of all there was plenty of Western food to dig into, including a particular favourite of mine, chicken and mushroom pie with gravy, which tasted like my local pub made on a sunday lunchtime. Other tastebud teasers included apple pie with ice cream, fish and chips and chicken schnitzel. To add to this, you could sit on the floor eating AND watch Family Guy/Simpsons/Friends whilst you ate! Now how much more homely does it get?!
The area surrounding the town is the second reason that you may want to add this place to your travel itinary, with karst rock formations, an abundance of caves and swimming holes and enough cheap beer to keep Homer Simpson happy and more rope swings than even Tarzan could swing from in a day!
We spent 4 days in all investigating the area by foot, motorbike and tubes.
One of the rope swings over Nam Song river
In this time we visited 7 caves, 2 which had swimming holes. They ranged from small to extremely large, with one going several kilometres deep. Unlike many areas in the World, Laos tourism is similar to the country, in the fact its extremely laid back about how they do things. So rather than set up any lights in the cave and organise English speaking guides, you are taken into the dark abyss by two young Laos girls, barely out of dipers, each carrying a flashlight and looking after you like they are your parents! It was pretty funny and a refreshing change from many places that over do it by 'jazzing up' their caves with music and flashy lights.
We spent one day floating down the Nam Song river in a tube, having heard stories about peoples experiences, but not knowing fully what to expect.
Me at a cave in Vang Vieng
It's a very crazy set up, with a wooden bar situated every 100m or so, selling more beers and cocktails than you would imagine consumable, whilst half inebriated people swung from home made rope swings into the river below. We actually saw a couple of nasty incidents, where people couldn't support their weight when they jumped off the platform and plummeted 10m+ into the water below. One guy landed on his back and one girl on her front. They both seemed winded and it was enough to keep me staying well clear. We did the 3km trip in a little over 4 hours, whilst some people stretch the day out to 10 hours and look worse for wear upon their return to town! That evening we treated ourselves to an hour long massage for $3 just to make sure we were not too stressed out...