Vang Vieng – off the tubed track

If you ask anyone who has been to Laos, they will tell you that you MUST go tubing in Vang Vieng. I hadn’t heard much about it, and did not realise how big tubing here really was. The whole town exists for the sake of tourists. Arriving at 3am in any other town would be like entering a ghost town, but in Vang Vieng people were still out stumbling across the streets, street vendors sold bacon and egg baguettes to satisfy that 3am hunger pang that is inevitable on any night out drinking. The midnight curfew that exists in Laos seems to be ignored here, and soon I found that was not the only law that gets broken.

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The beautiful landscape that is Vang Vieng

I was never 100% committed to tubing in Vang Vieng in the first place, and decided that I would go along if Chase wanted to, but would have to see it first before deciding if I really wanted to participate. After arriving in Vang Vieng with our new friends Dave and Anne who we met on our trek we decided we would participate in some other activities that the town had to offer before deciding if we wanted to go tubing.

The first day we decided to explore some of the caves just outside of the town. There were about 4 caves in the area we went to, but we only explored 3 of them. One of the caves is a 3 km long that ends up in an underground lake where you can go swimming. We got to about the 2 km mark, unguided, before deciding to turn back. There were so many pathways to remember, we thought it was in our best interest to quit, before we forgot the way out. We also managed to go tubing in Vang Vieng, as the third cave was a water cave, with a river flowing through it. The cave is only possibly entered via water and in true Vang Vieng style, inner tubes are the preferred mode of transport. There is a cable line that guides you further into the cave and when you’re done you can either pull yourself along this really fast or float lazily back out of the cave on the tube.

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That night we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant. I was really surprised to see a hidden menu within the real menu that had weed, mushrooms and opium in the form of joints, shakes, pizzas, etc. I could not believe how easy it was to access these drugs and the way they have been offered to us! The four of us enjoyed our regular pizzas, and regular fruit shakes sober.

The second day we had a full day organised with Adam’s Rock Climbing School at Secret Canyon and Sleeping Wall. These climbing walls are not only amazing in themselves but the location and surrounds are also. As hoped, my rock climbing abilities had improved since Krabi. Each time I climb is more rewarding than the last! I started to struggle towards the end of the day not because I was tired, but because my feet were killing me – the shoes were rubbing up against my ankle. But with the aid of Dave’s socks and a larger pair of shoes, I was able to attempt a few more climbs (attempted a 6a+ twice but it hurt way too much!). I highly recommend rock climbing in Vang Vieng.

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Chase and I climbing the two opposing faces of sleeping wall

In the end, I managed to put up with Vang Vieng’s party scene, tune out to the blaring episodes of Friends and Family Guy, avoid getting high off mushroom shakes and happy pizza, and still managed to go tubing and have a great time!

Rock Climbing
Company – Adam’s Rock Climbing School
Website –
Cost – 170000 kip each (approx $22) including full day climbing, all equipment, lunch and water

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