Posted by: Jay & Christina | October 9, 2010

Let’s Rewind: Vang Vieng

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Vang Vieng

We are going to confuse you a little and go back a month and a half to our time in Southeast Asia. We are currently on our last leg of the trip making our way through Europe, but hoping we will catch up on our blog. Here we go back to the future.

Our second stop in Laos was a little small town in the countryside, set in a valley surrounded by limestone peaks. One would think a place like this would be a refuge for peace and quiet, but it turned out to be a party town filled with backpackers from all over the world who have come here primarily to do one thing: tube down the Nam Song river. There were also some possibilities to do some rock climbing and caving in the area but due to our inexperience in these activities and our lack of time, we decided to just tube.

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Wooden pedestrian bridge across the Nam Song

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Once in a while a scooter would be driven across it

Luckily we found a very nice place not to far from the town center that was tucked away just enough to give us that silence we so desired in such a beautiful place.

The city center was filled with bars and restaurants catered to the tourists. The restaurants were made up of lounging areas where all the patrons would sit and watch episodes of Friends, Simpsons, or Family Guy while being intoxicated from alcohol and/or the “happy” pizzas that were secretly being offered. It was a strange atmosphere to be around, and no, we did not have any happy pizzas. While we were watching the Simpsons, we experienced a downpour of rain that was stronger than anything we had yet to experience in Southeast Asia.

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Didn’t stop people from riding their bicycles home

After a few beers, we decided to hightail out of there and eat at a food stand serving pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We found many of these throughout our time in Laos, and it was a good cheap snack or meal.

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The following day after breakfast, we rented our tube from the agency running the trips. We were given tubes from old tractor truck tires, strapped on a life jacket and jumped into a 10 person tuk-tuk where we were then driven about 3 km upstream from the town. When we arrived, we found bars along the banks of the river promoting all the tubers to stop for a drink (at an inflated price, of course). These bars had loud club music blasting from giant speakers to a deafening volume. We all had a beer before disembarking.

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Some people took their first plunge in style

Our trip down river consisted of many beer breaks. The bars could be found every 100 meters, all playing their club music, all trying to catch the attention of tubers passing by. It was a strange scene, debauchery among the beautiful scenery.

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The people who ran the bars threw lines out to tubers to pull them onto shore.

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Some workers would wave flags or dance to try to get people to come to their bar.

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Some bars had trapeze lines where one could propel oneself into the river, then once in the river quickly swim to shore.

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Others had tall water slides

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and zip lines

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This was the highest trapeze line on the river. It was a little scary stepping of the platform which was about 3 stories up.

The water was deep and brisk, so I made sure that I was sober before participating in these activities. Besides the bars, the scenery around the Nam Song was very beautiful.

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Christina tubing down river

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The limestone cliffs towering over the banks kept us in a state of amazement during our ride down the river.

Until next time,




  1. But did you enjoy it?
    Eva from ForksandJets had the best quote, they were there when we were, she called it a ‘lawless Adult summer camp’.
    Whenw e were there the river was very low and very slooowww. We were stone cold sober and tired from paddling ourselves by the time we got back to town.

    • Eva’s quote hit the nail on the head, for sure! Wow, you guys had to actually paddle yourselves? I can imagine that was pretty exhausting. Since we were there in rainy season, the river was actually quite swift and deep. We were a little worried we’d move too fast to enjoy any of it. I think we paced ourselves pretty well (with the drinking too), and we were able to meet some nice people. The tubers that day were pretty mellow and not too spring-breaker-ish so, we had fun. 🙂

  2. Hello,
    I think we’ve missed meeting each other by days. We haven’t posted on Laos yet but were there a few weeks ago. We really enjoyed the tubing (much more than I ever thought, and responsibly of course, lol). I am glad we went for it, in spite of hearing bad reports about it from other travelers. I even wanted to do it a second day, but we had to move on. We didn’t take our camera though, you mind if I link your article to our post when we blog about it? Thanks and keep enjoying!

    • Hi Ninfa! Thanks for your comment! I have to agree, tubing was more fun than I had expected. It was still a strange little hub; the huge contrast between the beautiful surroundings and the party! party! atmosphere. 😀 We’d be honored if you linked our post to your blog. Thank you! Btw, your blog is great! I look forward to reading through it, especially your time in Africa!
      Happy trails, Christina

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