Vang Vieng has always had a reputation of being a hard-partying spot for backpackers, but the government and locals have been working hard to clean up their reputation. Majority of the bars have been shut down, new (and clean) hotels have popped up and there’s now a huge focus on outdoor activities like the Blue Lagoon and cave explorations. If you wrote Vang Vieng off as somewhere you were too old to visit it’s worth re-considering now! You’ll find everything you need to know in this Quick Guide to Vang Vieng:
WHERE TO STAY
- The selection of run-down guest houses in Vang Vieng leaves much to be desired, so we highly recommend staying slightly outside of the town since it’s small enough that you can still walk to restaurants, etc.
- Lao Valhalla Bungalows is the city’s best kept secret with 6 bungalows surrounded by jungle. Located about a 15 minute walk from the town and just a short drive or bike ride from the Blue Lagoon. It’s the perfect place to be!
WHAT TO SEE & DO
- The absolute highlight of Vang Vieng for us was the Blue Lagoon. A gorgeous swimming hole with rope swings and platforms to jump off of.
- Near the Blue Lagoon is a few caves worth checking out as well.
- Dirt bikes, ATVs and buggys are all available to rent – of driving through the city and the dusty back roads. Lots of fun!
- Tubing (in combination with riverside bar hopping) used to be the main activity in Vang Vieng, but now that all of the bars have been shut down it’s not nearly as popular as it used to be. Kayaking is the more popular (and sober) option these days.
- A few restaurants near the river play episodes of Friends on repeat – all day, every day! Grab a spot on a pile of pillows, order a beer and spend a few hours laughing at the world’s greatest TV show.
WHERE TO EAT
- Food selection in Vang Vieng is pretty horrendous. One of the first places we tried was Bamboo Tree, where our pizza arrived covered in ants. Needless to say, we sent the pizza back and began a much more serious search for good food!
- Amigo’s was our best find in Vang Vieng. The owner spent 25 years in Canada, so he has a excellent understanding of quality food. Head here for fresh and delicious Mexican food – be sure to try the mango salsa!
- For incredible Lao food that tastes home cooked check out the restaurant at Lao Valhalla Bungalows. The owner (Nouth) cooks with a lot of love, and many dishes include fresh produce from her garden.
- Another surprising find in Vang Vieng was Pizza Luka. Delicious pizzas and Italian wine! Be prepared to wait, but I promise it’s worth it.
WHERE TO DRINK
- The party scene has died down in Vang Vieng, but if you want to re-live some of it’s former glory there’s only one bar to visit – Sakura! This place is mayhem with drunk travellers dancing on tables, drinking free shots of Lao Lao whiskey and inhaling laughing gas from balloons.