Vang Vieng, Laos – A Hidden Gem

As you can see from my bucket list, I have always dreamed of visiting Li River in Guilin, China. The beautiful karst hills in China have always fascinated me. But as of the moment, I haven’t had the opportunity to go there yet. That’s why when I found out about the gorgeous karst hills in the town of Vang Vieng, I really made sure to include it in our short 3-day trip to Laos. In fact, it was the first place that we visited in Laos because I just couldn’t wait to see Vang Vieng.

Upon arrival in Vientiane (Laos’ capital) via the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok, we hopped into a VIP bus headed to Vang Vieng right away. There are many buses from Vientiane that go to Vang Vieng. We paid 10 USD (Php 450) each person for the bus ticket. Travel time is around 3-4 hours from Vientiane. The bus was full. The majority of the passengers were western backpackers. We were among the very few Asians in the bus. After leaving Vientiane, we passed by the local villages. Soon after that, all we could see were only mountains. Then, we traveled along the zigzag roads as we passed by the mountains. It reminded me of a bus ride to Baguio. I was sitting far from my mom and my sister in the bus but I could already read the expressions on their faces. “Where on earth are you going to take us?” biggrin After some hours of seeing only mountains and plain grasslands,  I already saw the tip of the karst hills that I was dying to see. It was such a relief!  At least I could almost see Vang Vieng and it means we are already near. Finally, after 4 hours in the bus, we arrived in the town of Vang Vieng. And I was awed by its beauty. Just imagine a village surrounded by karst hills landscape. The place was just breathtakingly beautiful.

As soon as we got off the bus, we were approached by the locals offering us some guesthouses. They first greeted us saying “Sabaidee” which means hello in Lao. I think it sounds a little bit similar to “Sawasdee” which also means hello in Thai. However, we politely declined their offers as we had already made a guesthouse reservation online before coming here. We paid 31.50 USD (Php 1,386) for a triple room at Vilayvong Guesthouse.

Vang Vieng is known as a backpackers haven. The town is usually a pit stop for backpackers who are traveling between Vientiane and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of  Luang Prabang. Within the past 5-7 years, the town has commercialized a lot as more and more travelers come to the place each year. This could be clearly seen as restaurants, bars, guesthouses, internet cafes and travel agencies all lined up at the town center. You would be surprised to see such a number of tourists from different parts of the world gathered in this remote area. You could even see barechested guys and girls wearing bikinis walking on the street. Indeed, Vang Vieng has become a touristy place.

We only had two days to spend in Vang Vieng. We spent those days eating the local foods and enjoying the sceneries. Unfortunately, due to limited time, I was not able to try other activities but let me give you the highlights of the things that you can enjoy here. Vang Vieng might be a small town but there are tons of activities to do here.

What to Do in Vang Vieng:

1) Tubing. Vang Vieng is most popularly known for tubing. If you haven’t heard of this yet, let me give you an idea. Basically, tubing is done by renting a tube (salbabida) and taking a ride on a tuktuk to bring you a few kilometers up the river. From there you would slowly flow down the river back to the town. On the way down the river, there are many bars that would pull you and offer you free shots of beer. The bars also have slides, zip lines and rope swings. However, this might be dangerous for guys who are heavily drunk. Tubing costs 7 USD (Php 302)for the Tube + 7.5 USD (Php 330) deposit.

2)Boating/ Kayaking. You can rent a boat or enjoy kayaking as you watch the stunning karst mountains along the Nam Song River.

3) Caving. Climb the mountains and visit these gorgeous caves. Due to time constraints, we weren’t able to try this but I searched for a photo on the net to give you a glimpse of the caves in Vang Vieng.

4)Bicycle ride/ Motorbike ride around the town. You can rent a bicycle or a motorbike and explore the town on your own. I saw a lot of foreigners driving motorbikes. It seems like they won’t even ask for your license here.

5)Balloon Ride. Try out this hot air balloon ride and see Vang Vieng in bird’s eye view!

6)Food Trip. This is definitely my most favorite thing to do whenever I travel abroad mrgreen I just love trying out the local delicacies. One thing that you would love about Laos is the abundance of French food. This was because the country was colonized by France in the 1800s. My favorite is the baguette which is much more delicious than Subway wink You can choose from various fillings. We bought one for 2.5 USD (Php 110) this is already good enough for two people.

This “pancakerotee” is also a must try. It’s actually their version of banana pancake. You can choose from different flavors and you can buy one for 1.25 USD (Php 55). My sister said that the pancakerotee is the Lao version of sagimis or turon wink We watched as the young Lao girl prepared the pancakerotee for us. Most of the locals here can speak basic English so you won’t have any problem talking with them.

Most of the restaurants in Vang Vieng don’t have chairs so you will eat your meal while sitting on some pillows or cushions. It’s really fun!  biggrin

7) Relax and enjoy the sceneries. If you are not in the mood for some outdoor activities, just sit down and enjoy the beautiful sceneries. Read a good book or write a journal. I really think Vang Vieng is a good place to write. I loved the laid back and simple lifestyle of the people here. I have heard of some travelers who had stayed here for more than a month or so. How I wish I could do the same. I just hope I could stay here for more than a week. Unfortunately, we only had two days to spend here so I should make every moment count.  One of my unforgettable times here was when I woke up early in the morning to walk around the town alone. At 6am, I left my mom and my sister at the guesthouse and grabbed my camera. The town looked so peaceful as most of the foreigners were still sleeping. All I could see were the locals and the Buddhist monks who were out for their morning alms.

I have been often asked, “What is the best place you’ve ever been to abroad?”  And I always reply, “That’s a very difficult question to answer.” And honestly speaking until now, even after setting foot in seven countries, I still find this question very difficult to answer. Maybe because it’s really tough to single out one country and call it the best. Maybe because all of them are special in their own ways. Each place I visit takes a special place in my heart. And Vang Vieng is surely one of them.  biggrin

How to go to Vang Vieng:

Take a bus from Vientiane; Bus ticket costs around 6.25 USD (Php 275)-10 USD (Php 450) per person ; travel time is 3-4 hours

Accommodations in Vang Vieng:

Vilayvong Guesthouse


35 comments on “Vang Vieng, Laos – A Hidden Gem

  1. bookjunkie says:

    You’ve basically introduced me to Laos and now I’m convinced to make a trip there. I had little idea about the country before I read your post. Your photos and words make me feel like I have travelled with you.

    • Wow, I’m glad that you’re already convinced to go to Laos bookjunkie! I assure you that Laos is worth visiting 🙂 If you enjoyed Vietnam, I think you would enjoy Laos as well. Feel free to ask me any questions if you will plan a trip to Laos or the Philippines. And I would happily assist you 😉 Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  2. pinoy boy says:

    waaaahhhh i hope i can get a leave soon! i really really want to go even for a short while. photos look amazing. and i could only imagine the feeling when you woke up at 6 am with the monks in the street! God bless you!

    • I agree, mag-leave ka muna sa work mo. hehe 😀 Vang Vieng is truly a wonderful place. It’s located between Vientiane and Luang Prabang so make sure to stop by when you finally go to Laos. Yeah, that morning was really special.
      Actually, at daytime you could see even more foreigners walking around the town than the locals. But that early morning, as most travelers were still sleeping, I could only see the monks and the locals walking around the town. It’s really nice because I felt that I saw the real ambiance of Vang Vieng. God bless you too and I would be looking forward to read your Laos entries 🙂

  3. chyng says:

    a simple place with a fascinating view and activities. mukhang tama, you’ll enjoy Laos if you’ll stay longer. wish to visit this place too someday.

    and that Sando! all the backpacker ladies wore that when we crossed the BKK border. =)

    • hehe madami nga kong nakitang backpackers na nakasuot ng sando na yan sa Vang Vieng. And tama ka Chyng, Vang Vieng is simply fascinating. You would love the simple and laid back lifestyle of the people there. It’s really one of my favorite places abroad 🙂

  4. WOW! Na-amazed ako.. I envy you Lovely. This post convinced me want to visit the place. Tumulo laway ko dun. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Thanks Bino! 🙂 You would really love the food in Laos. Puro food trip nga ang ginawa namin dyan eh. Sabi nung sister ko hwag na daw kami mag-boating, ikain nalang daw namin yung ibabayad namin sa boat. hehe. I also envy you because you’ve been to Bahrain. Ang ganda nung fort na pinuntahan mo. I hope I can visit that place too someday 🙂

  5. I’ve always wanted to visit Laos, pero gusto ko matagal ako mag-stay. saving the best for last! hopefully soon! 🙂 thnx for sharing at ang ganda ng guesthouse, gusto ko yung may mga ganyang kulambo parang prinsesa lang. hehe. 🙂

    • Hi Gael! That’s true, pag nandun ka na gugustuhin mo talaga mag-stay ng matagal 🙂 Nakakapanghinayang talaga kasi hindi ko pa napuntahan yung Luang Prabang. Ang hectic kasi ng sched namin. I really loved the guesthouse as well. Kaya nung nakita ko yung picture online nag-book agad ako. hehe. I’m sure makakapunta ka din sa Laos soon and I will be looking forward to that. Enjoy traveling and thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  6. pinoy boy says:

    lahat tayo gusto mag-stay ng matagal sa Laos. Bahala na nga ang work!!! Sarap kasi puntahan. ganyan yung kind of place na mag-eenjoy ako! tahimik, ma-nature at di masyado flashy. Good Job! he he Researching ako ngayon, takas from work! he he

    • I’m really excited for your trip! Sige takas ka muna sa work mo. Gawain ko din yan. hehe I’m sure ma-e-enjoy mo ang Laos 🙂 Try mo din yung tubing. Sikat na sikat yan sa mga backpackers eh. I’m looking forward to read your Laos entries Pinoy Boy! Enjoy your trip esp. the French food! 🙂

  7. gusto ko rin gumising ng maaga pag nasa ibang bansa tapos mag observe sa activities ng mga locals.gusto ko makakita ng maraming monks sa bangkok kasi paisa isa nakita namin.magkano kaya bayad sa hot air baloon.mahal kasi usually ang ride na ganyan

    • Masarap talaga gumising ng umaga at mag-observe ng mga daily activities ng mga locals pag nasa ibang bansa ka. I really encourage you to go to Laos if you wanna see a lot of Monks. Meron kasi silang Monks’ morning alms round sa Laos tuwing umaga. Inaabangan talaga yun ng mga travelers na pumupunta sa Laos kasi dun naglalabasan yung mga monks. Nung nagpunta ako ng Bangkok pa-isa isang monk lang din yung nakikita ko.

      Hindi ko natanong kung magkano yung hot air balloon pero I’m sure mahal nga yun. Saka nakakatakot din i-try. hehe. Thanks for visiting! 🙂

  8. Ed says:

    Hi Lovely, First time here! Saya ng travels mo ah! kaka enganyo nag mag out of the country uli! Thanks for sharing your stories. Mag-iipon muna ako.
    I’m also enjoying your entries about your cruise ship. 😀

    • Hi Ed! Welcome to my site 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! I’m really enjoying your travel stories. Dami kong nalalaman about different places so thanks for also sharing them. They really serve as an inspiration for newbie travelers like me.

      I’m sure makakapag-cruise ka din someday 🙂 I’m looking forward to read more of your travel escapades. Keep on exploring and God bless! 🙂

  9. Sony Fugaban says:

    Wow, wow, wow … and another wow! The first photo is also a WOW. My apologies for the wow word. I don’t know but that’s just what I can say whenever I read at your post and look at your photos.


    The first photo is truly STUNNING.

  10. Sony Fugaban says:

    Wow, wow, wow … and another wow! The first photo is also a WOW. My apologies for the wow word. I don’t know but that’s just what I can say whenever I read your posts and look at your photos.


    The first photo is truly STUNNING.

  11. ang ganda nang place and nice photos you have here lovely 🙂 made me even more eager to go there this April.

  12. doi says:

    ang ganda nang place and nice photos you have here lovely made me even more eager to go there this April.

  13. Michael says:

    salamat sa information about LAOS..were going there next year for our my 3rd country destination..its on our list….

    thanks indeed …

  14. Bellie says:

    Thank you so much for your post. at first it was only my option…but now it’s my must to visit..Nabitin lang ako for the Luang, Prabang. Sana matuloy kami this Sept..musta kaya ang weather at that time..

  15. jhun says:

    great pictures ! love it ! kala ko hindi pinoy ang blogger… while i’m reading I ve noticed the peso sign.. astig mga shots !

  16. nix says:

    thanks for sharing..i really love it…do i have to get a visa to go to laos before going there?

  17. Naama says:

    Just found your blog while searching information about Laos.Lovely photos and very helpful, thank you 🙂

  18. nurul yahyami says:

    hi, nice to read your blog. on jan 2013, i will travel to laos from bkk by train, like you do before. my planning is i will go to vang vieng in the 1st day i arrived in laos. is there any bus to vang vieng from nong khoi? or shall i go to vientiene first? i will stay 1 night in vang vieng and tommorrow i will go back to vientiene, cause on 3rd day i must leave laos back to jakarta via KL. do you have any suggestion what placed i must visited in vang vieng and vientiene in these short time journey? really need your suggestion. thanks 🙂

  19. asli says:

    im planning a short trip from bangkok to laos. after reading your blog everything seems so easy to me 🙂 thanks!!!

  20. Felicity says:

    I am in Laos currently, It’s a lovely place we visited a lot of places from North to the south. I love the food and their massage. I also love the places and the Lao people.

  21. Hi ! I visited Vang Vieng Last August and I thank you for doing this Blog. Laos was not originally included in my Backpacking plan, till i came across this blog of yours sometime last year. Laos is indeed a charming country. I now have have a blogsite of my own. / Again, Thanks ! and keep your posts coming =)

  22. I think ill miss this part of laos for the moment but will surely visit vang vien. seems like to be a cool spot!

  23. Jaydene says:

    Thanks for the info- super helpful

  24. Regin Reyno says:

    I’ve been to Guilin and it is really majestic but commercialized. I love this post. So helpful and inspiring. When did you go to Vang Vieng? I plan to visit next month. Any tips?

  25. rohana says:

    Very interesting, In fact I am looking to visit Laos via Bangkok by overland for sometime but didn’t got the simple details till I read your article,Thank you.

  26. […] Vang Vieng, Laos – A Hidden Gem […]

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