Things To Do In Vang Vieng: A Guide To This Beautiful & Adventure Filled Backpacker Paradise!


Vang Vieng was once a byword for backpackers excess and the devastating effects it can have on a place. In the past this wonderful village surrounded by mountains and stunning rivers was described as a “Paradise Lost”, engulfed by the drunken backpackers who would pass through without a care for the culture or indeed the opportunities for true adventure travel here. But today the town is a very different place, especially if you venture out of the centre for some spectacular Vang Vieng activities! Now it really is a paradise for those seeking all the thrills, views and culture Laos can conjure up! A true wonderland once again, here’s our top things to do Vang Vieng!

Things to do in Vang Vieng: The best of the Vang Vieng activities in this beautiful town.

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Go hiking in this magical landscape through jungles and up mountains to the Pha Poak viewpoint

Vang Vieng is surrounded by amazing mountains and lush jungles just waiting to be explored. Heading across the river and beyond the first set of bungalows are several easy hikes to be taken, all of which will leave you in awe of this magnificent place. Following the trail of plastic bags used as flags through the countryside will bring you to a small peak topped with a red flag called Pha Poak. From the bottom it might look rather modest, but take the steep scramble up to the top and you will be rewarded with jaw dropping views at every angle! Head further passed here and you will find yourself trekking deep within the jungle! This is such a cheap and rewarding entry on our things to do Vang Vieng list and is a must do and one of our favourite Vang Vieng activities.

Price

The entrance price for the viewpoint is 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

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Explore the incredible cave systems by torch light: Pha Thao Caves, Lusi Cave

It will come surely as no surprise that with such a mountainous karst region comes many hidden caves and crevices. These limestone features have worn down over thousands of years to create magnificent voids within the peaks that can be explored by the brave and intrepid and make up some of the best Vang Vieng activities on offer.

Pha Thao Cave

There are quite a few caves around Vang Vieng, the most popular being Pha Thao Cave 11km out of town that can easily be reached on a scooter. This cave system is quite popular and has well formed trails inside and ladders to access each section. The way to the cave is well sign posted and easy to find and features some impressive chambers.

Price

The cave entrance price is 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

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Lusi Cave

Our favourite was the lesser visited Lusi Cave, this place is actually a lot bigger than you first imagine taking almost an hour to explore it all and get back out. Made even more intense also by the fact it is only accessible via torch light and you will be likely the only people in there…apart from the huge huntsman spider that is!! For sheer adventure this is one of the top things to do Vang Vieng due to the fact that you can actually swim inside in the pitch black too! Visiting is easily combined with climbing the Pha Poak viewpoint as it is just a few KM along the same trail. 

Price

The cave entrance price is 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

You can also hire a guide for an extra 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

Tham Chang or Tham Jang

Closer to the town and just a few steps up the Pha Lao mountain just outside of Vang Vieng is Tham Chang cave. A smaller but feature full cave it is also of major significance to the people of the area as it was used as a refuge against the invading Chinese in the 19th century. The cave offers great views out over the town and it is also possible to swim in the freezing cold water of a lagoon fed by water straight from the caves! 

Price

The cave entrance price is 15,000 kip / £1.50

The fee for crossing the bridge to access the caves is 2,000 Kip / £0.20

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Go tubing through the Tham Nam Cave (Water Cave)

As well as the other cave systems in the town another must do of the Vang Vieng activities is tubing through Tham Nam caves. Offering a combination of two of the typical things to do in Vang Vieng, caving and tubing, the caves are a fun and spooky experience. This incredible adventure takes you through an eerie spider filled cave in the pitch black!! Pulling yourself along via a rope through the 500 metre low cave the narrow tunnels offer a close up view of magnificent formations and a surreal disorienting experience.

The cave is often included as the first activity on some of the popular full day trips around Vang Vieng meaning it can get very busy in the mornings and so visiting in the afternoon is recommended.

The cave is around 14km from Vang Vieng and can be visited without a tour and is best on a scooter.

Price

The cave entrance price is 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

You can also hire a guide for an extra 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

To cross the access bridge it costs 10,000 kip / £1.00 / $1.16

Parking your scooter costs 5,000 Kip / £0.50 / $0.60

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Climb on the amazing limestone cliffs: One of the most adventurous things to do in Vang Vieng!

Vang Vieng is also a rock climbers mecca. It not only features many developed routes and crags for the more well rehearsed climber but there are also easier walls and scrambles available all over town. As many of our readers may know we are keen rock climbers so we take any opportunity to hit the crag and we jump on it!

You can choose to rent your own gear out from the many shops in town or take a guide for a lesson in the art of clinging to rock with your fingertips! The limestone crags offer some incredible sport climbing for all abilities and have been well developed by local and international climbers. Some routes do close during the rainy season but not all of them so do check beforehand to see what is available. One of the companies we can recommend the most is Adam’s Climbing School due to their level of experience, equipment and knowledge.

Price

Half day courses cost around 180,000 Kip / £16.00 / $20.00 pp

Full day courses cost 260,000 Kip / £23.00 / $30.00 pp

3 day courses cost 1,325,000 Kip / £117.00 / $153.00 pp

Gear rental for everything costs 350,000 Kip / £31.00 / $40.50 for two people

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Spend a lazy day tubing on the river: One of the most typical things to do in Vang Vieng!

Tubing on the Nam Son river hasn’t had the greatest of reputations over the years. It has been seen as the ultimate activity of the drunk, disrespectful and downright idiotic backpacker. However after the authorities cleaned up the river of the illegal bars, drug fuelled raves and death trap swings we are here to tell you tubing in Vang Vieng can be something completely different. We headed out on the water for a peaceful float down this lazy river, instead of stopping off at bars we were laid back taking in the stunning scenery around us, so we really do think it has to be one of the best Vang Vieng activities now!

There is no better way to see both the sheer beauty of the area as well as having the most relaxing day you could imagine! Don’t be put off by previous reputations, tubing is one of the best things to do Vang Vieng!

The ride should take around 3 hours without pit stops but remember in the rainy season when the river is higher you will go faster! Aim to get an early start on the river as your tube needs to be returned before 6pm to get your deposit back. Bring along a dry sack and leave your valuables at home. You are ok in your swimming gear but bring with you a t-shirt/ shorts etc for walking back around town as it is considered rude to walk around half dresses in Laos. Flip flips are best secured or put in your bag too as they have a tendency to float off in the current! Bring sunscreen and remember to stop off regularly and re-apply! 

Read more about it here: Tubing in Vang Vieng

There are other ways to enjoy the river too, it’s possible to rent out kayaks as well as visiting a zipline course partway along the river too.

Price

Renting the tube costs: 60,000 / £6.00 / $7.00, plus a returnable deposit of 60,000 / £6.00 / $7.00

Tubes can be rented from a few places but only one is the “official” place where you are not forced on some kind of tour! It’s not the easiest place to find but the town is quite small so asking does help if you get lost! The office is across the road from Hally’s coffee which is on google maps, look for a yellow sign and tubes pilled up outside!

A tuk tuk will fill up and take you to the start of the river and you finish at the Smile Bar where you can walk back into town from there or get a tuk tuk.

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Take a leap of faith or just a dip at the Blue Lagoon!

Vang Vieng has no shortage of amazing water to take a dip in, be in inside a cave, on a tube or after jumping 35ft from a tree!! Over at the blue lagoon a few km from town you will find a haven for both the adrenaline junkie within you and also the relaxation seeker! The natural phenomenon set in the stunning karst mountains of Vang Vieng shines a light turquoise colour in the blistering Laotian sun.

Here you can climb the tree that overhangs the water and test out your bravery from its highest point at 35ft / 10m! If that’s not your cup of tea then instead relax on the many low swings that sit in the water and watch the others take the leap into this wonderful water! There are also other pools nearby you can visit, some are quieter and have other features too making this area home to some of the best Vang Vieng activities.

The main one, featured here, can get quite busy though when we visited we didn’t think it was too bad!

Price:

Entrance to the Blue Lagoon is 10,000 Kip / £1.00 / $1.16

Bike parking is 5,000 Kip / £0.50 / $0.60

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Things to do in Vang Vieng: Get lost in the amazing countryside and take in local life

Whilst Vang Vieng town centre itself might not be much to look at the surrounding countryside is awash with local culture and beautiful farmlands. Set to the backdrop of the jungle covered mountains taking just a short walk from the bars and noise of Vang Vieng itself you will find yourself completely surrounded by untamed nature and fascinating culture. Out here many local ways still remain despite the invasion of tourism in the centre. Rickety bamboo bridges cross the river, leave covered shelters house farmers in their fields and children play happily in the river! Without costing you a penny and one of the best things to do Vang Vieng seeing real life here is such a wonderful experience. 

You can either rent a scooter, bike or just walk from the town centre. We recommend renting a scooter whilst visiting the many Vang Vieng activities to take advantage of the many things to do just outside of the town and also to explore the wider countryside.

Price for rentals:

A scooter costs around 50,000-80,000 kip / £5.00 – £8.00  / $5.78 – $9.25 for a day excluding fuel 

Bicycle rentals cost around 10,000 – 20,000 Kip / £1.00  – £2.00  / $1.16 – $2.30

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Want to chill out? Have a friends marathon on a comfy sofa in a bar!

Yes, you read that correctly!! For some reason, maybe the history of drug use here, this seems to be a big things!! I mean, who doesn’t like Friends!!?? So after a day of adventure why not kick back at a bar with some cheap food, drink and the surreal sound of canned laughter floating out into the humid jungle atmosphere! It’s a strange sight for sure and one that probably sums up what Vang Vieng is about. Sure, it’s a true backpacker town and some of those “holier than thou” travellers might turn their noses up at it. But what it is is fun, beautiful and full of adventure!! Oh, and Banana Pancakes of course!

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Things to do in Vang Vieng: Catch unforgettable sunsets along the rice fields 

Vang Vieng just seems like one of those wonderful places that never fails to provide you with the perfect sunset…even on the dullest of days. It’s unique climate, mountain ridges, open fields and stunning river allow a multitude of locations from which to watch the glowing orange sun dip below the horizon. There are also balloon rides for those brave enough to float above this magical landscape at this most beautiful of times. Those of us with a smaller budget can wander over to the sunflower fields and nearby rice paddies for one of the most awe inspiring sunsets we’ve ever witnessed.

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What are your best things to do in Vang Vieng or your suggestion for best Vang Vieng activities?

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You had me at cave tour until you said spider filled cave! Yikes! I really appreciate that you included the costs, amazing prices! Always love following your adventures!

Vang Vieng sounds incredible! You mentioned it was once overrun by backpackers and a “paradise lost.” But now it is not? What caused the turn around and recovery from the drunken haven you indicated it was formerly known for. Very cool the town got is identity back.

I never knew about Vang Vieng before reading your post. It truly looks like a paradise. Tham Nam (Water cave) looks interesting.

Laos is one of the few countries we did not visit in Southeast Asia, and looks like we should have. Vang Vieng seems to be the type of places we would love: great scenery, hiking, traditions! That jump into the blue lagoon is rather impressive! Not for the faint-hearted!

The caves look so spooky and fun. It’s been so long since I’ve last visited a cave and being able to swim in one is something I’ve never experienced. I’d also love to visit the countryside 🙂

mohanaandaninda

Vang Vieng seems to have something for everyone. The sun-soaked countryside looks perfect for leisurely hikes. I’d love to see the famous rice terraces of Laos and go tubing in the river 🙂

I’ve never heard of this region before. A big mistake, it seems to me. I also like climbing and would have tried my luck on the wall. Well and a lazy day to a river or lake, I’m always there. Nice impressions, thank you!
Susanne

I’m so glad they’ve been able to clean up Vang Vieng and it is, once again, a paradise found. I would love to do the tubing down the river and through the caves. I’d love to go to the Blue Lagoon too, but the low swing will do fine for me. As for a Friends marathon with banana pancakes, that’s my kind of adventure!

I have heard all the stories about the backpackers, great to hear that things have improved. Looks like a great place to visit and so many things to do. I can definitely see myself chilling out in a tube all day.

Wow.. Vang Vieng’s natural beauty is truly breathtaking. And it offers such great hikes and wonderful water activities too. Good to know that the authorities have cleaned up the Nam Son River. I would love to go on tubing here too.

I am so amazed at how cheap things go for in Vang Vieng! Such an affordable paradise that you found.

[…] Have you ever had the pleasure of visiting Luang Prabang Laos: A total contrast to Vang Vieng! […]