Vang Vieng is a small backpacker town surrounded by mountains & rivers. The main attractions are tubing, caves, and the natural mountain scenery and limestone hills. Almost all the restaurants have large televisions playing American sitcoms (usually Friends), episode after episode. We found this to be quite strange, but had no complaints as we watched about 10 episodes during our two days in town!
Backpackers from all over come to Vang Vieng to tube down the river. Nicole and I being the responsible adults we are, were one of the few who chose to wear life jackets and did not down massive amounts of Beer Lao. We did see many drunk backpackers attempting to tube down the river without lifejackets. It is never a good idea to drink and swim! It’s also a good idea to wear water shoes that strap to your foot as there are lots of sharp rocks and we saw many people limping around with bandaged feet.
Whilst floating downriver there are several places to stop, mostly small family-owned bars and also several good spots for jumping into the river from a tree or a specially-constructed bridge. If you see a spot you want to stop you wave to the guy on the riverbank and he throws a bamboo stick out to you and pulls you to shore.
At our first stop we decided to join the fun and climbed a big tree about 50 feet high and jump off holding onto a trapeze sling which sends you flying high through the air while everyone watches to see how high you are when you let go and what kind of landing you have. I jumped at the highest point and had a painful bad landing on my left side! I was sore for a full day and my left side turned bright red first and now is bruised! The fun outweighed the pain and we both jumped a couple of times!
We had a lot of fun tubing down the river and jumping out of trees…until it started to STORM! We were tubing on the last stretch of the river that did not have any points to exit when it began to pour rain AND THUNDER AND LIGHTNING! We were SO scared but there was nothing we could do! We locked our legs so that we could stay together as the current was quite strong at some point. It was raining so hard, I couldn’t even open my eyes for fear my contacts would pop out! We made it back without being electrocuted but the storm was so bad that all of the power in town went out a few minutes later! I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the drunk 19 year olds that were at the bar when we left and still had to make it down the river somehow. We decided our children will not be allowed to come to Laos at 19 years old as there are too many ways to kill yourself and zero safety regulations.
Nicole looking scared in her tube…
To see my photos from Vang Vieng CLICK HERE!