Vang Vieng has been known for years as the place where the party never ends.
It had a reputation as one of the wildest places to party in Southeast Asia.
Then people started dying.
Machismo, alcohol, shallow water, and zip lines don’t go together very well.
In 2011 there were a reported 27 tourist deaths in Vang Vieng.
Regulations came in strong after that and Vang Vieng had its reputation shutdown.
Years have passed since those wild times.
The zip lines have been taken down and the riverside bars reduced.
But don’t think for a second that Vang Vieng is a boring place now.
It’s still one of the craziest party destinations in Southeast Asia.
When staying in a party town you might as well stay at a party hostel also.
And there’s no better place to stay than Nana’s Backpackers.
Nana’s is one of the craziest party hostels in Southeast Asia.
Everyone that stays there is looking for a wild time.
And they don’t have to look far.
Nana’s has a bar and a swimming pool.
Some people start their mornings at the bar and end up in the pool all day.
At night, Nana’s has a Happy Hour with FREE vodka and whiskey.
Both of them taste absolutely horrible(and I actually like vodka).
It’s low grade shit, but it’s free.
Make sure to buy yourself mixers because that stuff is ROUGH when you drink it straight.
Free alcohol is actually quite popular in Vang Vieng.
A lot of the bars offer Free Happy Hour just like Nana’s.
If you know which bars they are and the time of their Happy Hours you can get a lot of alcohol for free.
I was content staying at Nana’s to do my drinking and partying.
I didn’t venture out into the Vang Vieng nightlife.
But I heard the stories.
Like I said earlier, some of the bars have free Happy Hours.
But some of the bars also serve “a little extra”.
Mushroom shakes, mushroom pizza, marijuana joints, and opium joints may(OR MAY NOT) be sold at some of the bars. WinkWink
If you ask around Nana’s you can find someone that has been there way too long and they’ll know the exact spots.
A lot of people I met seemed to enjoy these bars:
Drugs are extremely illegal in Laos, but some of those businesses might be paying off the police.
The rumors I heard were: you can buy, drink, smoke, or eat the drugs IN the establishment.
BUT if you try to leave with those items you’ll be blackmailed by the authority that hangs around outside.
If you get busted by police your options are usually:
Pay HUNDREDS of dollars to avoid jail.
Go to jail.
Seems like too much of a risky move if you ask me.
But I met plenty of people that went out every night and returned.
Soooo… your choice.
Tubing is still one of the main activities to do in Vang Vieng.
Now there’s regulations though.
All the zip lines have been removed and the bars reduced.
During your journey down the river there are only 3 bars open at a time.
I went tubing 2 days in a row and noticed the bars that were open on the 1st day were closed on the 2nd day.
So it looks like the bars alternate between which days they’re open.
At the end of the river, where you get out, is Smile Beach Bar.
That bar seems to be open every day.
One of the bars has a tree you can jump into the river from.
That is the only “risky” thing that’s still available on the river.
The water was very deep in that area, so there’s no need to worry.
As long as you don’t do a belly flop you should be OK.
The distance between the 3 bars is a little weird though.
The first 2 bars you visit are right near the beginning of the tubing.
And the last one is about 2 hours down the river at the end.
DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE DRUNKEN TIME.
Vang Vieng still has many things you can do besides getting shit-faced.
The surroundings of Vang Vieng are some of the nicest in Laos.
Karst mountains are all around which means there’s plenty of view points and caves to visit as well.
PHA NGERN VIEW POINT.
Pha Ngern(or Pha Ngeun) is the best viewpoint of Vang Vieng.
It’s a pretty easy, but steep 45 minute hike to the top.
At the top the rocks become very jagged, so don’t attempt this hike in flip flops.
Entry Fee: 10,000 Kip($1.15).
There are so many caves around Vang Vieng you’ll have no problem finding one to visit.
Tham Chang(Tham Jang).
Tham Chang is a cave just to the southwest of Vang Vieng.
You’ll have a long flight of stairs to the entrance.
Once you’re inside it is very well constructed with paths, steps, and railings.
Entry Fee: 15,000 Kip($1.73).
Tham Phu Kham(Blue Lagoon).
Tham Phu Kham is a cave to the northwest of Vang Vieng.
The name means “Blue Lagoon” due to its blue waters.
Lusi and Pha Poak Caves.
Unsafe bamboo ladders, mosquitoes, and additional costs.
If that’s your thing you can give these caves a look.
The Tham Sang Triangle:
Located about 5 miles north of Vang Vieng is this group of four caves.
- Tham Sang(Elephant Cave).
The name “Tham Sang” refers to the stalactite that resembles an elephant.
- Tham Hoi(Snail Cave).
Tham Hoi is considered the most sacred to locals, with a large Buddha head at the entrance.
- Tham Loup.
Tham Loup is known for its stalactites.
- Tham Nam(Water Cave).
A fun cave that you can tube through.
You’ll guide yourself through by holding onto a rope.
Better to visit later in the day when there’s less tours there.
Pha Thao Cave.
Located near the caves in the Tham Sang Triangle but not as popular.
A cave you can have all to yourself.
There are Blue Lagoons all over Vang Vieng.
I only went to Blue Lagoon 3 which might the biggest and most popular.
Even with a lot of people there I still had plenty of room to swim around.
I also never had to wait long to use the swing and zip line.
Entry Fee: 10,000 Kip($1.15).
Kayaking down the Nam Song River is another option instead of tubing.
Kayaks can be rented all over the town.
I chose to rent a motorbike and drive around the mountains exploring the caves and lagoons.
But another fun(and expensive) option is to rent a Dune Buggy.
You’ll see advertisement for these all over town.
Dune Buggies are extremely fun, but I didn’t want to spend the money.
I saw a lot of tourists driving them along the routes between lagoons.
Just don’t be an asshole and drive through farmers fields.
If you arrive in May you might witness the rocket festival, Boun Bang Fai.
I arrived the day of this festival, completely unaware of it.
While walking down the street I saw rockets shot into the sky, people colored in paint, and men dressed in drag.
Either this place was still an out of control party town or there had to be some sort of festival.
Once I checked in to my hostel I followed the rocket smoke down to the river.
That’s where everyone was partying and shooting their rockets.
There were people playing in the river, food vendors, and loud music.
It was definitely a great way to start my time in Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng Is Still A Great Party Town.
The stories of insane madness might be a thing of the past.
But you can still have a great time in Vang Vieng.
Whether it’s an adventure through nature or an adventure through your impaired mind.
Have you been to Vang Vieng?
Do you consider it one of the best party destinations in Southeast Asia?
Let me know in the comments below.