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Vang Vieng, Laos. Food, Tubing, Kayaking, Flooding, Caving and Chilling

We’ve been in Vang Vieng, Laos for 5 nights now and we’re loving it. It’s raining, a lot, but it hasn’t spoiled our experience of this little town. There has been flooding, the Nam Song river was over its banks yesterday morning, I had to wade through the river to buy my morning coffee, all part of the adventure! This post is about life in Vang Vieng, hanging out, food, restaurants and the whole Vang Vieng vibe.

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A hammock on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng. Very relaxed!

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The weather seems to add to the charm of Vang Vieng, it’s a lazy, sleepy place to be.

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It’s wet season in Laos, rain and flooding in Vang Vieng yesterday.

I’m struggling to write this post, I’ve got all these random thoughts about food, accommodation, the Nam Song river and the lovely Laos people, but it’s all jumbled up in my very relaxed head.  So here are some random, jumbled up thoughts on Vang Vieng and Laos.

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Still relaxed, a riverside restaurant in Vang Vieng

People say Laos is similar to Thailand, I don’t think it is, the rural scenery as we drove from Vientiane to Vang Vieng reminded me more of Bali, Vang Vieng town looks and feels a bit like Kathmandu to us. The people are different, more reserved, the food is different, bigger portions and far more European food, the way this town operates is different, far less hustle. We like it a lot.

Eating, Drinking and Hanging Out in Vang Vieng.

We seem to do a lot of nothing, we perfected the art in Kanchanaburi, Thailand and then had a hectic 27 hour travel day to get to Vang Vieng , so I think we deserve a few more lazy days to recover.

A restaurant has become our temporary living room, you’ll find us here most days, chilling. These places are set up for that kind of thing with comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi and power points, free pool tables, big screen TVs and glorious river views. Most restaurants have raised seating platforms with cushions for leisurely reclining.  It’s very easy to lose track of time, particularly once you start on the Beer Laos at $1 for a pint bottle. The bars are clean, slick and well run, not seedy, like Kanchanaburi, I’m happy to hang out in them with my children, we even do a bit of school work in them.

You can get food from just about any culture in Vang Vieng, it’s of a decent standard, too. Every restaurant seems to have the same menu and the same prices, nothing is spectacularly authentic but it’s all pretty good.

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A restaurant by night, I can image this place in high season would be very different.

If you’re looking for authentic food and a real Laos experience, you won’t find it in these places, they’re for us, the tourists. I Googled Laos food in Vang Vieng, one place came up, a restaurant on the crossroads called Nokeo, we went last night, it’s a lovely little place, the owners were delightful and the Laos food was good, but it was a bit on the expensive side, 25,000 Kip ( almost $4) for The Chef’s Laos style beef and for my tofu and vegetables, sticky rice was an extra 5,000. It’s the only place, so far, where we’ve been served sticky rice in a traditional steamer. Laos is famous for its sticky rice.

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Laos beef and sticky rice, the only restaurant in Vang Vieng that we found recommended for traditional Laos food.

Ladies with street carts sell sweet and savoury baguettes and pancakes ( actually roti) from 10 000 Kip ( just over a dollar). They’re always open, even in the rain.

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The cheapest way to eat, lovely ladies and totally yum!

It’s really quiet here, most of the bars and restaurants are empty, the one we like, with the pool tables, always has a few people eating, drinking and hanging out. I guess in high season this place is busier.

We’ve probably killed more time hanging around in restaurants than we would if it was dry, but river activities are fairly unaffected, our kayaking adventure went ahead on the day the river was highest, a few people were tubing that day, although we were told it was dangerous.

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and still more rain…

I mentioned tubing before in my post about getting to Vang Vieng from Laos, the drunken party scene is a thing of the past, I think, after the government crack down. We noticed a couple of riverside bars were still open and serving the tubers as we kayaked past.

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Our kayaking, caving, tubing day in Vang Vieng was excellent!

The caving part of our kayaking day was semi cancelled, the water was too high to get into the water cave, although D and The Chef did have a quick look with our guide. It was a fantastic day, I’ll post about it soon.

Accommodation here is great, really clean, great facilities. Every guest house seems the same, charging the same prices, I think the locals have got it organised that way. We’re very happy to pay $12/ night for a twin room with all the trimmings.

There are plenty of signs around town advertising rooms and houses for rent, maybe we’ll check them out and stay a while. Maybe, if it stops raining, we’ll hire bikes and explore the countryside a bit more, I need to take photos of water buffalo, mountains and rice fields, it’s so pretty! If you want to read more on kayaking in Vang Vieng, you need our post. We went twice and eventually spent over a month just in Vang Vieng.

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Rory Christie

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

In Vang Vieng at this moment (Oct 17, 2017)and loving it... the ideal place to chill out. Restaurants aplenty and some serious interest value in the scenery and river, bush etc. Prices (for food specifically) are significantly highr than most places in Thailand ... including Bangkok ... but still pretty good value for money. You can get a pretty reasonable meal for $5-8US. Here for 5 days and then VIP bus or minivan to Luang Prabang. VIP bus takes significantly longer (7hrs) even though more comfortable. Minivan (4hrs approx) is more probable for us. Any advice on that.?

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

The only problem with the mini bus is it's so much more likely to make you car-sick and it was more cramped. We did it both ways. We had to stop for vomiting twice on the mini bus. We found the big bus more comfortable. Personal choice I guess. Food prices are higher than Thailand yes, but portion sizes were a lot bigger so we could often share.

Jae Oh

Saturday 16th of August 2014

Great photos! Vang Vieng well epitomizes PDR (Please Dont Rush). There's really alot of cool nature surrounding the town, I hope you guys can explore if the rains let up a bit.

Suzi Hansborough

Sunday 28th of July 2013

That was lovely to read. Looking forward to seeing water buffalo & rice fields.

[email protected]

Monday 29th of July 2013

Thanks Suzi, but guess what, it's STILL raining!!!

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.