Vang Vieng

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General information, recreation, attractions

Vang Vieng (also Vang Vieng) is a city in Laos 150 kilometers from Vientiane and 180 from Luang Prabang (Vang Vieng on the map of Laos). This is a relatively small city, almost a village, which, together with the surrounding villages, is inhabited by a little more than 33 thousand people, but it is one of the most popular tourist places in all of Laos, and is second in this, perhaps, only to Luang Prabang. It lies on the banks of the Nam Song River.

So far, Vang Vieng remains a cozy tourist place with a special atmosphere of youth freedom and serenity, you can even say "hippie". But things are changing, and in a few years it is likely to turn into a developed holiday resort for large groups of tourists from China and Korea. The fact is that Chinese business and money are actively coming to the city, land is being bought for the construction of business centers and luxury hotels. Already now (2020) there are large construction projects, from which there is a lot of dust and dirt, which, of course, spoils the impression of his visit. So hurry to visit it as it still remains.

Vang Vieng Street
Surroundings Of Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is the center of active recreation of Laos. There are almost no cultural and historical attractions except for a few simple Buddhist temples and a couple of conditionally historical places. But nature has endowed the surrounding land with a considerable number of interesting natural formations, thanks to which it has become one of the most attractive places in Laos for eco-tourism and recreation, including active forms of entertainment. There are rocky mountains, caves, lagoons for swimming, waterfalls. And in General, Vang Vieng (or rather, the surrounding mountains) is considered one of the most picturesque places in Laos.

Fans of active forms of entertainment can rent a buggy or ATV, go rock climbing, raft along the song River on car tires (tubing) or kayak, ride a mountain bike, go on a hiking tour. Relatively recently, eco-tours to Village Farms have appeared, during which tourists are told and shown about rice cultivation, and even offered to work in the field. Well, if finances allow, then you can swim in a balloon. The flight price here is one of the lowest in the world - $ 80 per person; the flight duration is 40 minutes.

Vang Vieng temple

The main part of interesting places and entertainment is located in the Valley on the other side of the River Song (Nam Song). It is there that lagoons, mountains and caves are located. To get to the other side, you will have to pass through the Namsong Bridge toll bridge. Payment for travel is made once immediately for moving there and back, a ticket for payment is issued: 10,000 Kip for Motobike, 6,000 for bicycle, and 4,000 for pedestrian passage. There are roads to attractions and villages along the valley, but there are few asphalt roads. Mostly you have to go on bad dirt rocky roads at a speed of no more than 20 kilometers per hour. There is only one village gas station in the valley, but it is better to pour gasoline in advance in the center, so it is Cheaper. To navigate the points of interest, you can download points from our maps of Vang Vieng as a KMZ/KML file, and upload them to the Navigator or Offline Maps app Maps.me, OSM, etc.for smartphone. On the road there are also many signs to attractions, including Little-Known or recently discovered and not described by US.

  • Tubing and kayaking

    Vang Vieng tubing

    Vang Vieng is the Laotian "capital" of two water sports-tubing and kayaking. With kayaking everything is clear, but tubing for many tourists is unfamiliar. Tubing is simply rafting on a river on an inflated camera from a car or tractor. This is a "lazy" kind of water entertainment, because unlike kayaking you do not need to row and steer, and the current of the river will simply carry you from the start point to the finish line.

    In Vang Vieng, both tubing and kayaking are well organized and are one of the main "chips" of the resort. Both Entertainments are offered in almost every hotel and guest house, and in the travel agencies on the street. You will be taken to the starting point up the Nam Song river, given inflated cameras (or a kayak), instructed, and then "fished" downstream in the city. From where you can get back to the hotel on foot. Kayaking is organized roughly the same way, but among other things there are one-way day tours on Vientiane. In this case, you will overcome all this way by water, and your belongings will be taken to the landing place in Vientiane by car.

    🕐 Working hours: at your convenience during the day.

    🚶 Entrance fee / tickets price: tubing costs from 60,000 Kip (4.59 USD), kayaking from 80 000 Kip (6.13 USD).

    🚶 How to get there: tubing and kayaking are offered at travel agencies on the street and in almost all hotels. Prices from place to place do not differ much, but you can bargain, especially if you are several people.

  • Blue lagoons for swimming

    Vang Vieng lagoon

    In the valley there are at least five lagoons for bathing in clean water from springs. They do not have a name, but are simply numbered from the first to the fifth. They come to swim, sunbathe, jump into the water, in general, have fun. Around some of them formed whole amusement parks with infrastructure: cafes, changing rooms, toilets, ziplines, bungee, rental vests, inflatable chambers, etc. entrance is paid everywhere, but there are "secret" free lagoons. Near almost every lagoon there are caves or grottoes, access to which is included in the price of visiting the lagoons. see below for a detailed description of two of the lagoons.

    🕐 Working hours: during daytime.

    🚶 Entrance fee / tickets price: entry from 10,000 Kip (0.77 USD), services and equipment rental are paid additionally at will.

    🚶 How to get there: lagoons # # 1,2,3,5 are located on the other side of the song River. You need to get to them on a rented motorbike or bicycle through the Namsong bridge turntable. Lagoon No. 4 is on the other side in 15 kilometers. Here is the position of the lagoons on the map:

  • Caves

    Vang Vieng cave

    There are a lot of caves in Vang Vieng, according to various estimates there are from 50 to 70. Most of them are not equipped for tourists to visit, they simply can not be reached without equipment. About ten of them are available for inspection, all for a fee of 5,000 – 10,000 Kip. Of all the available for tourists, only one is equipped with lighting and bridges for viewing, this is the Tham Chang cave. Everyone else without lighting, need a flashlight. It is best to come with your lantern, because for renting a lantern at the entrance to each cave they ask for 10,000 Kip.

    You can visit the caves yourself, but some of them are so complex and deep that it is better to hire guides who are ready to take you for about 50,000 dollars.

    Here are the most popular and equipped caves:

    • Cave Chang (Tham Chang, aka Jang Cave). The most popular and equipped. Which is good, you can even get to it on foot (cave on the map). Entrance 20,000 Kip.
    • Poukham cave (Poukham Cave or Tham Phu Khan). Very spacious, about 500 meters deep, not lit. It is located next to Lagoon No. 5, See about it below.
    • Lusi Cave. Sometimes it is mistakenly called by the name of another cave Khan Kham, which is located near it. There are two small caves, one of which has a pool with clear water.cave on the map).
    • Khan Kham Cave. The cave is medium-sized with Buddhist shrines inside, and interestingly, it is circular. (cave on the map)
    • Cave and observation deck Pha Hon Kham. These are two attractions at once, the entrance to each of which is paid separately for 10,000 Kip. The cave is standard by local standards, with many stalactites and stalagmites. But the observation deck deserves a visit, it offers stunning views of the Valley. True, to get to them, you will have to overcome a serious climb on foot (cave on the map).
    • Tham Sang caves or Elephant Cave. A whole series of several caves within easy reach of each other, and next to them is the Blue Lagoon 4. all together they are 15 kilometers from Vang Vieng (cave on the map). You need to go on a motorcycle to the Iron Bridge. Here you can leave the motorcycle in the parking lot for 5000 Kip, and then go across the toll bridge for 10 000 Kip to the other side of the river and explore all the caves and visit the source on foot. It takes at least half a day to visit all the caves and springs in the area.
  • Poukham cave and Blue Lagoon No. 1 / Poukham Cave and Blue Lagoon 1

    Lagoon 1

    This is the closest bathing lagoon to Vang Vieng, and therefore the most crowded. There are always a lot of tourists from China, so as a place for swimming and relaxing, we will not recommend it. But if you want, you can come here to visit the cave Poukham (Poukham Cave or Tham Phu Khan). The cave is very spacious and deep, about 500 meters. It is dark inside, so you need a lantern, which you can immediately rent for 10,000 Kip. If you want to explore it well, it is better to use the services of a guide for 50,000, but this is not necessary. And by the way, inside the cave is a Buddhist shrine, and in general it is a sacred place for the villagers. Learn more about Pookham cave and Blue Lagoon # 1 here...

    🕐 Working hours: during daytime.

    🚶 Entrance fee / tickets price: entrance to the lagoon and cave-10,000 Kip (0.77 USD, see Lao currency and exchange rate), rent a swimming vest - 10,000, rent a lantern for the cave - 10,000, guide to the cave - 50,000.

    🚶 How to get there: from the center of Vang Vieng to Lagoon #1 7.5 kilometers (Laguna 1 on the map). As with all other lagoons, it is best to get here by rented bicycle or motorbike. To do this, you will need to drive through the Namsong Bridge toll bridge for 10,000 kip in both directions.

  • Blue Lagoon No. 5 and cave

    Blue Lagoon No. 5

    It is the farthest of the bathing lagoons in the Vang Vieng Valley. What is remarkable is that there are no crowds of package tourists here, since only rare tourists reach it, mainly groups of young people. In the lagoon you can swim, jump into the water, lie quietly on the surface of the water on an inflatable circle, and no one will interfere with you. There is also a boat for skiing, but you can not go far on it: the lagoon is very small. True, there is one feature: after lunch, the sun hides behind the mountain, and the lagoon covers the shadow. ie, you can not sunbathe at this time, and after the water will be a little cool. Nearby is a small bamboo cafe with simple meals and drinks.

    There is also a small interesting cave, the entrance to which is across the bridge. But the entrance to it is filled with water, so to get inside, you will have to walk waist-deep or knee-deep in water depending on the season.

    🕐 Working hours: during daytime.

    🚶 Entrance fee / tickets price: entrance to the lagoon and cave-10,000 Kip (0.77 USD).

    🚶 How to get there: lagoon 5 is located 20 kilometers from the center of Vang Vieng (Laguna 5 on the map). You need to go here on a motorbike or a rented car buggy or ATV. The road to the lagoon is bad, a lot of irregularities, but you can get directly to it. Please note that Google navigator for some reason can not build a normal route to it, so it is better to go on maps like maps.me for reference, your path should pass through the village of Ban Nampe, not go around it.

  • PHA Pouak Hill and Lookout

    This is one of the few attractions of Vang Vieng that can be reached on foot from the center. There is a conditional path leading up, along which you will have to climb up, you need good shoes. From above there is a view of the city and the surrounding area, and nothing else.

    There is also a small interesting cave, the entrance to which is across the bridge. But the entrance to it is filled with water, so to get inside, you will have to walk waist-deep or knee-deep in water depending on the season.

    🕐 Working hours: during daytime.

    🚶 Entrance fee / tickets price: 10,000 Kip (0.77 USD).

    🚶 How to get there: located on the other side of the river, you need to cross it on a diagonal pedestrian bridge, and then to the hill through the field on foot (Hill on the map).

  • Vang Vieng evening entertainment

    Walking street

    Vang Vieng for many years was known as a place of freedom and youth get-togethers. Numerous nightclubs worked here, prohibited substances were freely distributed. But thanks to the efforts of the government, all this went away, and now the city has turned into a respectable and calm resort. In the evening, you can walk to the pedestrian street Walking Street, filled with cafes and stalls with fast food, souvenir shops. You can have a romantic dinner overlooking the river in one of the restaurants. The traditional Lao Traditional Folk Show takes place at Parisien Cafe at 17:30. On the former airfield, which is located right in the center of the resort, in the evenings there is a large street food court, a fair-sale, and local young people arrange motorcycle and ATV races. But all this until the airfield is built up, and such plans already exist.

Infrastructure in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is a developed tourist city. Along the Main Street and in the alleys you can easily find travel agencies, motorcycle rental, currency exchange, banks and ATMs. The exchange rate here is slightly less than in Luang Prabang or Vientiane, but generally acceptable. You can change not only dollars, but also Thai Baht. By the way, prices for services in travel agencies and tourist shops are published immediately in bales and dollars, and sometimes in Thai baht, but most often it is more profitable to pay in local currency. You can pay with a bank card only in expensive hotels and supermarkets, the rest prefer cash.

Bank and ATM in Vang Vieng

There are no large shopping centers here, but there are many small shops and several supermarkets. There are small electronics stores selling SIM cards, and in the evenings there is a street food market on the airfield, but it mainly sells cheap consumer goods from China. We recommend visiting the K-Mart Korean food store. The rest of the shops sell local and products from Thailand, there is Thai beer and whiskey. In general, prices here are much lower than in Luang Prabang.

There are a lot of options where to eat. The most inexpensive establishments are located mainly outside the tourist area behind the airfield and along the main highway No. 13, and closer to the river prices are higher. The most tourist restaurants and cafes are located along the river, their choice is huge. There are respectable restaurants with a sterile environment and a view of the river, but the young tourists are especially popular with old restaurants left over from the time when rave parties were allowed here and illegal substances were freely served. They have a very simple kitchen and furnishings, but a special atmosphere. In each of these institutions there is a large TV, on which the records of the most popular youth series "Friends" are spinning, sometimes comedy cartoons, there is cheap local alcohol and beer, and in some there are still special dishes on the menu with the word "Happy" or "Special" with the addition of hallucinogenic or narcotic substances. If you dine on inexpensive local fast food, then we recommend visiting the street food court on the airfield, and the food court on the other side of the river, which can be reached by a diagonal pedestrian bridge.

K-Mart Supermarket

Now as for placement. Hotels and guest houses of different categories there are more than a hundred, there are hostels for single accommodation. Prices are low, at least lower than in Luang Prabang or Vientiane, but higher than in Thailand. Some of the cheapest accommodation options are dirty rooms in the homes of local residents without hot water and WiFi, so when choosing, study not only the description of the object, but also read reviews. Also pay attention in the reviews to the proximity of noisy entertainment venues.

It is best to settle in the area between the airfield and the river, as close to the river as possible. It is in this zone that the entire tourist hangout and infrastructure are concentrated.

Pick up and book accommodation in Vang Vieng on these sites or through the search form from Agoda:

Внимание! Системы Booking.com, Agoda, AirBnB, Trivago и другие иностранные сайты показали себя как крайне ненадежные партнеры и полностью закрыли возможность бронирования отелей и жилья на территории РФ, в том числе и с финансовыми потерями для граждан России. Если вам нужно забронировать размещение без последствий, советуем пользоваться российскими системами поиска и бронирования жилья и отелей, и избегать использование Booking.com, Agoda и др. Подробнее здесь...

Weather, seasons in Vang Vieng

The tourist season in Vang Vieng lasts all year round, but the low and high seasons stand out:

  • The high season, also known as the dry season, lasts from October to April.. In these months there is a minimum of precipitation, the driest months are December and February.
  • The low season, also known as the rainy season, runs from May to September.. At this time, you can also go to Vang Vieng, but if you are not lucky, you can get on the long rains that go for several days.

Tourist seasons in Vang Vieng by month, when is the best time to go

Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov. Dec
                       

* best time to visit;
acceptable time to visit;
not recommended time to visit

Current weather in Vang Vieng and forecast for the near future:

How to get to Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is located roughly in the middle of the highway connecting Luang Prabang and Vientiane, so it is most convenient to get to it from one of these cities. Both have international airports, but since flights to them are very expensive, most travelers get here by land on buses. Moreover, this can be done not only from the two cities mentioned, but even from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, for which a convenient bus service is organized. True, it is worth bearing in mind that moving from Vietnam and Cambodia is very long and tedious with a change of bus, so we recommend stopping for the night, or even better for a few days in one of the cities of Laos.

In Vang Vieng there are several bus stations that serve different directions.

  • North Bus Terminal is located a couple of kilometers from the city center on the main highway (station on the map). Buses from Luang Prabang, Luangnamtha, Udomsai, Ponsawan, Pongsali arrive/depart here. The center from the station can be reached by tuk-tuk for 20,000 Kip.
  • South Bus Terminal is almost in the center (station on the map). This is the main station that serves all destinations, including Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
  • the Minivan stop in Vientiane is located near the airfield on the main highway (stop on the map). From here, it is very common to take minibuses to Vientiane to the northern bus station of the capital for 40,000 Kip.

But for tourists it is much more convenient to buy tickets not at bus stations, but at travel agencies. For this purpose, special branded buses from the tourist area are organized, or a transfer from the hotel to the place of departure of a large intercity bus. At the same time, the price differs quite a bit, and even the locals use this method of movement.

Here is the approximate information about flights to / from Vang Vieng, more precisely you will have to find out on the spot, as it can change:

  • Vientiane and Vientiane airport. Large buses run 4 times a day from the southern bus station; minibuses leave every 20-40 minutes from the stop near the airfield; several times a day tourist minibuses. The journey is 3 hours, the cost is from 40,000 Kip (3.06 tourist buses are preferable, since they arrive in the tourist center of the city.
  • Luang Prabang. From 07: 00 to 23: 30 every hour large buses and minibuses cost from 90 000 Kip (6.89 USD), 5-6 hours on the way. There are also night sleeping buses.
  • Phonsavan. One bus per day (morning), 6 hours on the way, cost 100,000 Kip (7.66 USD).
  • Pakse, 4000 Islands, Savannakhet. One bus per day with a transfer in Vientiane, 180,000 Kip.
  • Thailand. With a transfer through Vientiane there are ready flights to Bangkok (230 000 Kip), Pattaya (270 000 Kip), Udon Thani (Udon Thani, 90 000 Kip), Nong Khai (Nong Khai, 80 000 Kip), Chiang Mai (230 000 Kip), Pai (300 000 Kip). Some destinations are not operated during the rainy season (May to September).
  • Vietnam. With a transfer through Vientiane, there are ready flights to Hanoi (210,000 Kip), Da Nang (230,000 Kip), Hue (230,000 Kip), Vinh (210,000 Kip). Some destinations are not operated during the rainy season (May to September)
  • Cambodia. With a transfer through Vientiane, there are ready flights to Siem Reap (440,000 Kip) and Phnom Penh (440,000 Kip). Some destinations are not operated during the rainy season (May to September)

And here is the schedule of buses from Vang Vieng, which can be booked online:

Transport in Vang Vieng, what to move

Transport to move directly around the city is not needed, everything can be bypassed on foot. As a maximum, you may need to get from the bus station to the hotel, or back. To do this, tuk-tuks are on duty at bus stations, which take passengers to the doors of hotels for 20,000 Kip per person.

For trips to the sights you can use excursions, but it is much more interesting to go around them yourself on rented transport.

The easiest and most inexpensive way is to rent bicycles. It is possible to rent a simple city bike for 20,000 Kip (1.53 USD), but for trips to the valley to the lagoons and caves, it is better to choose a mountain bike, for which they already ask for 50,000 (3.83 USD).

It is much more convenient to move on a rented motorcycle (Low-Power Motorcycle, Scooter). The prices for their rent are low by the standards of Laos: for a semi-automatic machine they ask for 70,000 Kip (5.36 USD) or 300 baht (8.79 USD, see Thai currency and exchange rate), per machine 90,000 Kip (6.89 USD) or 370 baht. You can also take motorcycles for a day, not for a day, so it will be even cheaper. There are a lot of rental places, prices are different, so it's better to go and compare prices if you need to save money. The most inexpensive rentals we met on the local walking street Walking Street.

To manage a Motobike in Laos, you need an international driving license (IDP) with an open category A. IDP is issued by the traffic police on the basis of your national rights, and is a book in several languages (see more all about renting motorcycles in Laos and what rights are needed here...). But in the valley, where the lagoons and caves are located, the police are extremely rare, so usually tourists rent a motorcycle completely without rights, and go at their own risk. When renting the right is not asked.

Be careful and careful while moving through the Valley. There are terrible roads: dirt and very rocky, the average speed will be no more than 20 km/h.

Another way to get around is to rent a buggy car. Half a day will cost from 350,000 Kip (26.8 USD) + the cost of fuel. There are rental places in the city itself, and also in the Valley on the other side of the river there is a TCK Buggy car Station, they provide delivery to the place from gorodayu.

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