Take the Ride, Buy the T-Shirt - Tubing in Vang Vieng!
Vang Vieng Travel Blog› entry 19 of 26 › view all entries
August 15th, 2008 – by: Zymosis
Anyone who has spent any time at all in southeast Asia will know why most people travel to Vang Vieng: river tubing. I saw tubing t-shirts from my very first day in Thailand, all through Thailand, down through Cambodia, and up through Vietnam. That's how many people go tubing in Vang Vieng. Its also worth noting that literally half the restaurants in town play the TV show Friends, back to back, season after season, all day, all night.
The whole concept is very simple. A local tubing cartel rents out tubes, and then drives tubers about 3km upriver from town. They drop you off and give you a tube, and you stumble back to the tube shop sometime that night to return your tube and collect your deposit. While the river is certainly nothing to write home about, the entire 3km stretch of river is littered with river-side bars - literally a bar every few hundred feet. The river flows pretty quick, so all the bars have kids standing ready to toss you a rope and pull you to shore. Aside from all the usual Asia bar stuff - cheap beer and buckets - these bars also have lots of creative and exciting ways for drunk kids to hurt themselves. Like rope swings from 40+ feet over the river. Or ziplines that end very, very abruptly. Or mud-volleyball courts too slippery to stand up in. Or cheap mixer buckets of Lao-Lao.
We got on the river at about 3:30 after finding a riverside guesthouse ($5/night). Thankfully, we were with our Dutch friends who already knew the whole tubing drill. We made our way down the river, stopping at only the best bars. During the final leg it was totally dark, and we formed up a tube-posse with a few others. We finally found some lights next to the river and grabbed a waiting tuk-tuk back to the tube shop.
Not a bad ending to a crap-load of bus travel.
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