Vang Vieng is Animal House in Laos
Asia Laos Travel Blog Vang Vieng Laos

Vang Vieng is Animal House in Laos

Jungle parties, rafting on the river, bars and restaurants all around… Vang Vieng is basically the Animal House of Asia

“If teenagers ruled the world, it might resemble Vang Vieng” – The New Zealand Herald For High-Resolution Photos of my journey to Luang Prabang: Click Here For High-Resolution Photos of my journey to Vang Vieng: Click Here To check out my trip in Luang Prabang, click here. For the epic road trip to the Kuang Si Falls, click here. For my photo essay on the Luang Prabang-Vang Vieng trip, click here.
Vang Vieng
The view from our hostel – Karst limestone mountains dot the background of the small city

The party town-for-tourists called Vang Vieng is located midway between the major cities of Luang Prabang (5 hours drive) and Vientiane  (4 and a half hours drive) in the thick of the Laotian jungle and along the banks of the Nam Song River. First settled around 1353 in the midst of a Karst mountain landscape, the quiet little town saw huge changes during the Vietnam War when the United States constructed an air force base complete with an airstrip called “Lima Site 6.” After another quiet period following the war, backpackers started flowing to the city in search of adventure on the Nam Song River.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng

The main street of Vang Vieng is packed with cheap hostels and guest houses, bars, cafes, restaurants and tourist agencies. The main attraction, however, is inner tubing on the river. Sure, kayaks are available but let’s be honest – you come to Vang Vieng for the tubing and the parties. Bars, rope swings and zip lines used to dot the banks of the river to serve tourists from all over the world, however injuries and deaths of young tourists have left only a few bars remaining. Nonetheless, the party continues until late in the night. We arrived from Luang Prabang towards nightfall and kicked off the trip in a local pub.

Vang Vieng
Beer pong is a universal language. Beer Lao is a cheap and decent drink
Vang Vieng
A South African, America, Frenchman and Kiwi walk into a bar…
Vang Vieng
Good night, Vang Vieng from the Malany Villa Hostel
Hundreds of tourists were already in the city and backpackers were from all over the world. A jungle party held once-a-month happened to be that very night and it was [redacted]. I woke up the next morning and headed to a local cafe for breakfast. The “Israeli Breakfast” was neither “Israeli” nor would it be considered by any measurable standard “breakfast,” but it did serve its purpose of soaking up the booze from the previous night. We had a long day of tubing ahead of us so a hearty meal was absolutely in order. I ended up eating two of these.
Vang Vieng
The “Israeli Breakfast” in Vang Vieng
Ok so… tubing! Tubing on the Nam Song River began around 1999 and the heavy drinking, zip lines, rope swings, bars everywhere scene came shortly thereafter as backpackers and travelers began to flood the area. In 2011, 22 tourists were reported as dying on the river from excessive alcohol combined with the fast pace of the river (especially after the monsoon season). Drugs being widely available didn’t help the situation either. A huge push from the Laotian government in 2013 saw most of the river and town itself cleaned up and now only a few bars remain. Don’t be dissuaded however, as it’s still an amazingly-fun time cruising down the river, grabbing a rope thrown from a local and stopping off for a drink or two. Vang Vieng   Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng
Tubing at its peak pre-2011
Vang Vieng
Tubing nowadays on the Nam Song
 
Vang Vieng
Getting ready to hit the river
Nowadays, tubing and kayaking are popular activities in the town but so is traveling to the surrounding villages, exploring the local limestone Karst mountains and caves and biking around. Climbing has also become one of the main attractions to adventure travelers. Not just that, but the diversity among the travelers in Laos is quite impressive. We met backpackers from all over Europe, Australia, Korea and more! If you’re in Southeast Asia, Vang Vieng is a must-do on any adventurous traveler’s list!

Vang Vieng

For High-Resolution Photos of my journey to Luang Prabang: Click Here For High-Resolution Photos of my journey to Vang Vieng: Click Here To check out my trip in Luang Prabang, click here. For the epic road trip to the Kuang Si Falls, click here. For my photo essay on the Luang Prabang-Vang Vieng trip, click here.

Vietnam

Phillip Harbor

Author, blogger, photographer, all-around world traveler

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Israeli Abroad

IsraeliAbroad (formerly SidepieceDiplomat) was started as a passion project by amateur photographer Phillip Harbor as he travels from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and throughout the world. Named for the adventure, the photoblog seeks to give followers a unique insight into life from a nation that was until recently closed off from the rest of the world for more than half a century. This blog is half photo-half information-half experience-driven. Yes that’s more than a whole… and yes that makes about as much sense as anything else you can find on this half of the globe! Feel free to follow us on social media and right here on the blog as we explore the incredible wonders of Myanmar. Updates will come as regularly as possible and don’t forget to share with your friends!

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IsraeliAbroad was started as a passion project by photographer Phillip Harbor as he travels from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and throughout the world. Named for the adventure, the photoblog seeks to give followers a unique insight into life from a nation that was until recently closed off from the rest of the world for more than half a century. This blog is half photo-half information-half experience-driven. Yes that’s more than a whole… and yes that makes about as much sense as anything else you can find on this half of the globe! Feel free to follow us on social media and right here on the blog as we explore the incredible wonders of Myanmar. Updates will come as regularly as possible and don’t forget to share with your friends!