Vang Vieng is party central – full of western backpackers celebrating Christmas, but even more Koreans in town for a music festival, which just so happens to coincide with the Christmas holidays. There are so many bars, all with loud music blaring out and competing against each other, resulting in a total sound clash. It’s loud, brash and full of twenty-something-year-old backpackers. We did feel a little old and out of place at times, not being big into the dance or K-pop scenes, but the town had a good laid-back atmosphere and was good fun.
|Vang Vieng riverside|
There’s quite a lot of nature in the area – lots of chickens, ducks, pigs and cows wandering around on the road, so we had to be careful when walking back to our accommodation at night – there were no street lights and I almost walked into a cow at one point!
Vang Vieng is most famous for ‘tubing’ – floating down the Namsong river in a big inner tube and stopping at riverside bars along the way. As the river is quite fast-flowing in places, some of the bars throw you a rope, then reel you in. Others, you just paddle to the bank.
Keeping on the theme of alcohol, every evening, our host, Nouth, would bring out one of four bottles of her mother’s home-brewed spirits and invite everyone in her restaurant to do a shot with her. It was pretty potent stuff – apparently made by fermenting sticky rice – and tasted a bit like homemade plum brandy. For added decoration, each bottle had a creature in it: the four we tried over the duration of our stay had a scorpion, a giant centipede, a snake and ants in them! Not terribly appetising, but also rude to refuse our host!
|Can you spot the scorpion in the bottle?|
On our last day in town, we hired a scooter and visited two of the Blue Lagoons (there are three in the area) and Tham Phu Kham Cave. It was tough going on the scooter as most of the way was on unpaved dirt tracks, but worth the effort as the lagoons were beautiful, deep turquoise water pools, with platforms to jump off and a series of rope swings going into the water. I couldn’t resist doing a few acrobatics whilst I was there!
|Tham Phu Kham Cave|