We arrived in Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang after a six hour bus ride. We were on straighter roads than we had been previously so it made for a less bumpy and somewhat less scary ride.
Vang Vieng is completely focussed on backpackers-it’s just about the only place where we saw non-locals working at the bars/restaurants, and it’s really only tourists staying in the hostels there. It is extremely small, we could walk around the main area in almost no time. At some point, the restaurant owners must have thought “what do backpackers like to watch? ‘Family guy’, ‘Friends’, and ‘South Park’? Ok, that’s what we will show at our restaurants!” Many of the restaurants have little ‘booths’ with tables near the ground and cushions on the ground to sit on, facing the big screen tv’s playing reruns of the three popular sitcoms. It was nice to spend a few hours watching English TV, while eating our meals and drinking delicious strawberry shakes.
The main attraction in Vang Vieng is the tubing-grab a tube, take a tuc tuc up to the top of the river, tube down, while stopping at the bars along the way. If you want to go to the bar, one of the workers throws a rope out to you and pulls you in. Upon arrival, you get a free friendship bracelet-both Katie and I have three but there were people there with probably 30 each! There are also ziplines and rope swings that you can use at the various bars, along with games such as giant Jenga, Beer Pong, and dancing. Katie and I didn’t start tubing down the river (the bars are mainly at the beginning) until 6 or 7, so before we knew it, it was pitch black… we decided we didn’t want to tube all the way since it was getting cold so we went to a person’s dock who was waving at us, he boated us to the shore and then we took a tuc tuc back to town. For the most part, people don’t rent tubes and they just do the bars so we didn’t miss out on too much.
We also had an interesting hostel experience. We arrived and just found a hostel when we got there, and we decided on a pretty nice one that was cheap. When we were paying, the owner asked that we leave one passport with him (which we have never been asked before). Katie said that she would not leave it so he said ‘fine.’ He seemed a bit snippy after, and we both got a bad vibe from him (we have only had good hosts at our other hostels). Katie decided to look up reviews once we had settled in and there were many people warning us about the owner. There were several instances where something had happened (such as someone losing their shoes and asking the owner if he knew where they were) and the owner threatened to call the cops. That night at a bar, we ran into some Canadian girls who were staying at the same hostel and when they noticed that there were cockroaches all over in their room, asked for some of their money back, since they were going to leave. The owner then said he would call the cops on them! So the girls told us to leave the hostel, which we did the next night.
We only stayed for 2 nights but Vang Vieng is a beautiful city, but definitely geared towards partiers. We were ready to move on, and now, after 1 night in Vientiane (where there is really not much to do), we will be taking a bus to 4000 Islands, which is southern Laos, and is a group of islands perfect for relaxing.