Next in Laos was Vang Vieng which was 6 hour mini bus ride from Luang Prabang through the mountains where we saw a lot of hill tribe towns which was quite interesting.
Vang Vieng is a place I had heard a lot about as it’s the town of tubing! Tubing was huge until 2012 when it was then shut down, before this time hundreds of backpackers would get drunk going down the Nam Song river and stopping off at the 20 odd bars along side the river drinking cheap Lao whisky shots and god knows what else, the reason it got shut down is that a few people were dying every year from too much drinking or in most cases jumping off swings and rocks into the river while very drunk!
When I heard it had shut down I was gutted as I had really wanted to do it as its definitely part of the South East Asia loop. However in the last year or so I had heard it was starting up again but just not as crazy as it was before (which I was actually glad about!).
We arrived in Vang Vieng at about 8:00pm and found our hostel, it’s only a very small town a long side the river with many guesthouses, restaurants and bars, unfortunately now that tubing isn’t as big a lot of these places remain very quiet and many seem to have shut down. The first thing we noticed is that the TV show Friends was playing in every restaurant so we had dinner and watched about 4 episodes of friends and then headed to a bar for some drinks.
The next day we got up feeling surprising fresh, got some breakfast to line our stomachs and got ready for tubing. We’d been told not to wear many clothes, not to take shoes, take an old pair of sunglasses as you’ll probably lose them and only take money in the waterproof bags they sell in every shop, I decided I was pretty sensible and took my waterproof camera too as I wanted to get pictures and im glad I did!
There’s just one place in the town that gives you the tubes which you pay for a long with deposit incase you bring it back late or just don’t bring it back at all and then we piled into a tuk tuk to the start which also has a starting bar, we were greeted with a disgusting Whisky shot and realised by this point we should have had a few pre drinks as a whisky shot at 2pm as you’re first drink isn’t pleasant but we were also given a cotton travelling bracelet which seemed to ‘initiate’ us into tubing.
We started on a large Lao beer first and afterwards headed onto the river. Looking at the river it seemed to be flowing quite fast but looking at other people on the tube you realised they weren’t going too fast so I didn’t feel too worried. We all got on but of course started going down at different times but we caught up and had a good 5-10 minutes floating down before seeing the next bar and being pulled in by a Lao guy throwing a coke bottle to us to catch and then reeling us in. They take the tube for you and you head to the bar which consisted of another shot and of course bracelet (I ended up with 5 bracelets which I was pretty impressed with) but this time i went for a vodka and Malibu slushy which was amazing! This bar had a volleyball court and a basketball hoop so we had a go, we weren’t very good but had a really good laugh, the next few hours followed the same sequence, getting back on the river, stopping at a bar for a shot and a few drinks and then doing it again.
I know it was a lot of fun before it got shut down in 2012 but it also seemed extremely crazy and busy and even more drunken then so im glad I did it now where it’s a bit more chilled and safe and also the people I did it with were all in the same mind set as me in that we wanted to get drunk and have fun but safely! We went back to the hostel and got changed that evening and headed out again for more drinks and partying.
The next few days were really chilled, we ate lots of pancakes and baguettes that are served on the street, watched friends, drank at night and recovered from hangovers with some nice lie ins. One of the days we visited the Blue lagoon which is a small part of a river with some really nice blue water and some swings going into the river and parts of a tree you could jump off into the river. I however found the water wayyy too cold and didn’t actually go in (no surprise there) but I had fun watching and got to do a bit of sunbathing too!