Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.
At the risk of sounding old and not very hip: NO, I did not get drunk tubing down the Nam Sang River or rave all night long at the river-front bars high on shrooms or pot. Famous for shoe-string backpackers who can get there on a bus from Vientiane for 40,000 kip ($5), rent a room for next to nothing, eat on even less, and risk getting doped up drinking exotic concoctions, THAT is not the Vang Vieng we experienced. It’s unfortunate how sometimes the sordid reputation of a travel destination can obscure the natural surrounding beauty of a place, much worse how often Vang Vieng appears in the headlines because of drowned drunk tourist.
Not all hope is lost, however, since the government has been cracking down on establishments that have been a bit too liberal with their mushroom and weed pizzas, and recently, some up-scale establishments have popped up hoping to bring in bigger tourist dollars so that the community doesn’t have to rely solely on the $5 bus passengers for their livelihood. I personally hope (beg) that someone will also open a restaurant worthy of bigger dollars for discerning palates that are a little more particular about our meals than stuffing my face with anything lumpy and greasy on a hungover morning. We found the food to be terrible except for Nazim’s Indian restaurant, which also had much faster service, critical when dining out with toddlers.
There is SO much more to Vang Vieng worth doing and seeing than what it’s famous for. The views are stunning and there is so much nature and outdoor sports to explore. There is rock climbing, caving (even on an inner-tube or kayak), mountain biking and four-wheeling in the countryside, and going down the river (sober) just to enjoy the view, or simply hanging out at the pool and relax which is exactly what we did and we loved it…
You might also enjoy On the Road to Vang Vieng.