ActivitiesSightsVang Vieng

The 5 Most Fun Things to do in Vang Vieng

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Vang Vieng was the second stop on our trip through Laos. It’s known as the party town, and quite different from Luang Prabang. Only the city centre has a sealed road, with mud roads all around. And when you visit during rainy season, it can get very muddy. In between rain showers we tried our best to experience some of the most fun things to do in Vang Vieng.

Most sights worth seeing are out of town, a scenic bike or motorbike ride into the surrounding countryside. With backdrops of towering limestone cliffs, it’s a truly breathtaking view, even on a grey and rainy day. There’s one peculiar site right in the middle of Vang Vieng though. A long and wide airstrip that was used by Air America for military purposes in the 1950s to 1970s remains empty and unused, withering away.

Now on to the real fun things to do in Vang Vieng!

The exchange rate used: 1 Laotian Kip = 0.00012 US Dollar.

Explore the Tham Chang Cave

Our first up close encounter with the limestone cliffs around Vang Vieng was at the Tham Chang Cave. To get to the cave you have to climb 147 steps. The view you get in return is worth it though. The cave itself is pretty impressive as well and a cool break from the heat outside. Hard to image an entire village lived here during the civil war.

Crossing a bridge to the Tham Chang CaveCrossing a bridge to the Tham Chang Cave
Tham Chang Cave ViewTham Chang Cave View
Inside the Tham Chang CaveInside the Tham Chang Cave

Now, a paved path winds through the cave, with lamps lighting the way. Whereas I considered this handy and good visitor service, Brecht believes it ruins the atmosphere of exploring a cave. We took a lot of photos, but as you know these kinds of photos don’t do reality justice. It’s hard to capture the vibe of such an experience. One nice photo from inside the cave is made through a window looking out over Vang Vieng and its surroundings.

The Tham Chang Cave is just out of the centre Vang Vieng, on the other side of the Nam Song River. We drove out there on a motorbike. At the gates of the Vang Vieng Resort you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee of 2,000 kip (~0.24 USD) per person, and 2,000 kip (~0.24 USD) per bicycle or 3,000 kip (~0.36 USD) per motorbike.

Keep driving until you see the  Orange Bridge. There you can park your motorbike before you cross. A couple of 100 meters up ahead you’ll see a small blue lagoon where you can swim. To climb up to the Tham Chang Cave you’ll have to pay another 15,000 kip (~1.80 USD) entrance fee per person.

All in all we were about 40 minutes away from our motorbike exploring the cave and its surroundings. Do note this is one of the most popular things to do in Vang Vieng, so chances are you’ll be sharing the cave with a bunch of other tourists.

Visit the Kaeng Nyui Waterfall

Northeast of Vang Vieng, on the opposite side of town from the Tham Chang Cave, there’s the Kaeng Nyui Waterfall. Although this is supposed to be a pretty touristy thing to do in Vang Vieng, we only saw a couple of locals. Granted, road conditions were far from ideal on the day of our visit, which may have played a part in that.

Short hike to the Kaeng Nyui WaterfallShort hike to the Kaeng Nyui Waterfall
Please don't ride this poor elephantPlease don't ride this poor elephant
Getting to the waterfall was quite the adventureGetting to the waterfall was quite the adventure

We’re not really exaggerating when calling our drive over to the Kaeng Nyui Waterfall an adventure in itself. Unsealed roads tend to get muddy after a night of non-stop rain, and the pits, puddles and stones in the road don’t help either. Especially when you’re not exactly an experienced motorbiker. Anyway, it took us over 30 minutes to get there, but we got away without a scratch, just 2 pair of muddy legs. That’s rainy season for ya!

After parking our motorbike near a small stream, we continued to the Kaeng Nyui Waterfall on foot. You can go by elephant as well, but please don’t. They get mistreated for it and their backs can’t handle people riding them. It’s a bit of a climb to get to there, and you have to cross a ramshackle bridge, but the waterfall is quite nice. Not as dazzling as the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, but you can hear the power of the water dropping down, which is pretty impressive. Only during rainy season though!

The Kaeng Nyui Waterfall from a different point of viewThe Kaeng Nyui Waterfall from a different point of view
The Kaeng Nyui WaterfallThe Kaeng Nyui Waterfall

You can swim near the waterfall as well, but we just took some photos, flew our drone and headed back to our motorbike. We hung around for about 45 minutes, but you can easily spend a couple of hours there when you do decide to take a refreshing dip in the stream. There’s no entrance fee.

Go Geocaching

One of our favourite things to do in Vang Vieng, well, everywhere actually, is geocaching. There’s one at Phangern Viewpoint, which we set out to find. We could already see the flag on top of Phangern Mountain from the road, where we left our motorbike.

Walking through the rice fields in Vang ViengWalking through the rice fields in Vang Vieng

Following the instructions in the cache description, we walked in between rice paddies and a meadow with cows. Suddenly 2 locals caught up with us, asking us to pay 10,000 kip (~1.20 USD) per person in order to continue. They kept going on about a cave, while we repeatedly told them we wanted to go to the mountain with the flag. They ushered us to follow them through the trees and across a small stream. Our feet were soaking wet and I was getting cranky, so Brecht said once more we wanted to go to the flag. He finally caved and pointed us in the other direction.

When we were nearly at the adjoining forest one of them shouted: “You can walk through the river, the water comes to here!”, pointing halfway up his thighs. Bravely we continued on the muddy path, crossing an ankle deep stream. “Oh, is this it?”, we thought. But a couple of 100 meters ahead, we reached the edge of a large body of water. A couple of girls stood a little further in the water, collecting snails or something. After some discussion we decided the geocache wasn’t worth it and turned back. We did fly our drone there, to get a glimpse of the view we were missing out on.

The rice paddies to crossThe rice paddies to cross
Can you spot the flag we wanted to reach?Can you spot the flag we wanted to reach?
Crossing streams to get to the geocacheCrossing streams to get to the geocache
This is as far as we gotThis is as far as we got

Afterwards I read it’s a difficult climb up to the Phangern Viewpoint, but the view is amazing. So maybe not ideal in rainy season, but worth the effort in dry season. Check out the impressive photos Flo from Yoga Wine Travel made from up there in her post about Vang Vieng.

Watch the Sunset at Earth Bar

Earth Bar is an eco-friendly bar in Vang Vieng with lots of recycled stuff in their interior. The view from their terrace in the back is absolutely stunning and the sunset is supposed to be gorgeous from there. Unfortunately it was way too cloudy for a visible sunset when we visited.

Earth Bar is known for their yummy burgers, so we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to try. Glad we did! We loved them so much they made it to our top 5 best burgers around the world. If you’re hungry, do try their bruschetta as well, they’re one of the best we ever had.

View at Vang Vieng Earth BarView at Vang Vieng Earth Bar
Delicious BruschettaDelicious Bruschetta
Burgers at Earth BarBurgers at Earth Bar

As you can see, we really liked Earth Bar, and we didn’t even see the sunset! Compared to other restaurants the food is pretty expensive though. We paid 180,000 kip (~21.60 USD) for 2 burgers, a set of bruschetta and a few beers.

On a couple of nights a week they have live music as well.

Swim in the Blue Lagoon

And lastly, one of the most popular things to do in Vang Vieng: swimming in the Blue Lagoon. Its refreshing water has small fish in it, and a beautiful turquoise colour reminding of the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang. Tourist facilities are dotted around the shores, from all kinds of vendors to a rope swing and even a waterslide.

The Blue Lagoon is supposed to be beautiful, but touristy. Unfortunately we didn’t make it there. While we were on our way it suddenly started pouring rain, so we decided to cut our losses and head back to the hotel.

Getting around in Vang Vieng

All these sights in Vang Vieng are outside of the city centre, except for Earth Bar. In order to get there you can either hire a tuktuk, or rent a bicycle or motorbike. Depending on how big your group is different options can be the better deal.

As it’s just the two of us, we rented a motorbike from the shop across from our hotel. It cost us 50,000 kip (~6.00 USD) to rent 1 motorbike with 2 helmets for 1 day. She handed us a map as well.

Exploring Vang Vieng by motorbikeExploring Vang Vieng by motorbike

On top of the rental cost, we spent 10,000 kip (~1.20 USD) on fuel, and another 10,000 kip (~1.20 USD) to cross the Wooden Toll Bridge to the  Phangern Viewpoint. If you’re driving a bicycle it’ll only cost you 6,000 kip (~0.72 USD), or 4,000 kip (~0.48 USD) per person when you’re on foot.

In dry season there’s a free bamboo bridge over the Nam Song River as well, which you can cross on foot. In rainy season it gets washed away though. It had apparently happened just a couple of weeks before we arrived.

Although we preferred Luang Prabang as a town, there are a bunch of fun things to do in Vang Vieng as well. Because of the rain we couldn’t fully enjoy our stay, but we were definitely impressed by the beautiful countryside and limestone cliffs surrounding this small town. We can’t vouch for the Blue Lagoon, but the Tam Chang Cave is worth a visit.

We were bummed to have missed the view from Phangern Mountain as well. Have you climbed up to the viewpoint? Do we have to go back in dry season one day to see it? Or are there other things to do in Vang Vieng we missed out on? We’d love to read about your experience in the comments!


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The 5 Most Fun Things to do in Vang ViengThe 5 Most Fun Things to do in Vang Vieng