Vang Vieng, whilst remaining a fairly small town on the banks of a river, the Nam Song, has established itself as a tourist destination in its own right. Previously it had merely been a place that tourists passed through between Vientiane and the ancient capital of Luang Prabang. The opportunity to enjoy hiking, caving, mountain biking and swimming has resulted in an increasing number of holidaymakers onLaos travel packagesincluding the town on their itineraries. It makes sense to break a long journey anyway and Vang Vieng initially benefitted from that and then developed further. The current population in the town is 25,000 with many of them involved in tourism for their livelihoods.
This Vang Vieng Travel Guide hopes to give a further insight into the reason why Vang Vieng has become more than a bus stop where travellers will stretch their legs but immediately then re-board the bus to continue their journey. The first reason to stop for more than a break is the stunning setting; a river and beautiful rock formations. There is a high season when more youthful travellers are active by day and party by night. That tends to be the months of July and August and November around to the end of March. Outside these months there are few visitors and if you are looking for a quiet time in idyllic surrounding then Vang Vieng is for you.
Early on in the development of tourism around a decade ago Vang Vieng became known for partying, tubing on the river and loud music. Those days have largely gone and it is the natural environment that makes this small town such an attraction. The scenery between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang is stunning and that includes the immediate vicinity around the town. By road the journey is at least 6 hours with visitors able to get a glimpse of rural village life at the same time.
The town is small and easy simply to walk around though some people hire bicycles to go a little further afield and see the many interesting things on offer. Our Vang Vieng Travel Guide suggests these are some things to investigate further:
• Tham Poukham (Blue Lagoon) has been created by spring water below Golden Cave which can be accessed by rope ladder. There are stalactites as well as a Sleeping Golden Buddha.
• Padeng Cave and Ring Cave are across the river and along a marked path in the direction ofthe limestone mountains.Xang Cave and Nang Oua Kham Cave are two other caves to look at if you have time.
• One of the opportunities that Laos travel provides is to see ordinary rural life. Close to Vang Vieng there is a village called Ban Huai Ngai where tourists can see more about the daily lives of locals.
The caves of the region were used by locals to hide from Chinese invaders years ago and that adds to the interest of seeing them.
The main attraction of this region is its outdoor activities. Tubing on the river was hugely popular but it has had a doubtful history because combined with too much alcohol it was dangerous and there have been fatalities as a result. These days there is far more control of the ‘’sport.’’
• Kayaking is popular and in the location used there is a cave which adventurous travellers can swim. Caves are often fairly large so there is plenty of time to exercise by exploration.
• Biking is another activity and there are plenty of trails to follow and villages to visit.
• Swings over the river are exhilarating.
• Climbing walls help beginners learn the skill of rock climbing and experienced climbers have plenty of chance to test themselves in the region.
• Hot air balloons provide the chance to soar over the beautiful environment.
It is important not to take any risks in any of these activities. Medical assistance is limited locally and any serious problems will involve going to Vientiane which is a few hours distant. Even there facilities will not be as good as in many modern cities. This Vang Vieng Travel Guide is just part of the help that a good tour company will provide in the event of any problems.
The activity of tubing, a rubber ring down the river, should not be dangerous in itself but in the past there have been problems with young travellers consuming too much alcohol before doing it. It is a matter of common sense which this Vang Vieng Travel Guide clearly wants to stress.
There are drugs in the town and there is a certain level of tolerance when being used in particular places but overall Laos’ authorities frown on the use of drugs and everyone should remember that. The atmosphere is much calmer now even than it was just a few years ago. There are nice restaurants that still provide ‘’western food’’ but it is so much nicer to eat the local food from the interesting Laotian cuisine; fresh produce locally grown forms the basis.
Village life in Laos is not easy. The villagers are farmers growing their own food. They can sell surplus at local markets in order to make the little money to buy other things that they need. Our Vang Vieng Travel Guide hopes to help overseas visitors really get to know a region and that involves contact with local communities. Laos holiday packagesbalance city and town with natural environment, history with culture and religion. It is important to show respect to Buddha and it is polite to ask permission before taking a photograph of them.
WithinLaos tour packages, the best place to learn about the people is in Vang Vieng. Ignore the bars that cater for tourists in that exercise. It is the experience by day of getting out into the region that helps with this process. Laos is fairly new on the tourist map but it is bound to become more popular when there are places like Vang Vieng to visit.