Vang Vieng is a tourism-oriented town in Laos, located in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the Nam Song river. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town
Located on the highway from the Vientiane capital to Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng attracts many tourists due to its sceneries, peaceful atmosphere, and untouched beauty. With the advantage of geography – having both rivers and mountains and the pleasant weather that all make Vang Vieng become a destination not to be missed when you come to Laos.
Vang Vieng has been built according to the model of a tourist town, suitable for many types of tourism: spiritual, resort, or adventure games on Nam Song river. Since 1980, it has quickly become a hot destination for foreign tourists, especially European on weekends or holidays.
The history of Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng had the first people living in around 1353. Formerly, it was named “Mouang Song” when the body of the deceased King Phra Nha Phao was seen in the river. Then, this town’s name was changed to Vang Vien in the 1890s.
In Vietnam War, US-built an airstrip in this area, whose name is “Lima site 6”. During this period, the town was expanded significantly and the infrastructure was also developed.
Top recommended attractions in Vang Vieng
- Blue Lagoon: Blue Lagoon is a small island on Nam Ngum river, about 7 km to the west of Vang Vieng. It includes 2 lagoons: the right lagoon is for someone who prefers a peaceful place to rest on the clear water and the left deeper one is for youngers who love playing thrilling games. Tourists can hire a tube which costs about US$ 1. If you do not want to swim, you can play volleyball in the lakeside and try some thrilling games such as swing the ropes, jumping into the water from branches, etc.
Phu Kham Cave
- Tham Phu Kham Cave: Tham Phu Kham Cave is the most attractive scenery in Vang Vieng, located to the northeast of Ba Na Thong village with Blue Lagoon. The cave is revered by locals and contains many Buddha images. Tham Phu Kham Cave has a dangerous warning sign at the entrance so tourists need a local tour guide leading you on how to move in this cave. There is no stair to climb the hill, you must follow a hiking trail to reach Tham Phu Kham Cave. It looks like a matrix including some sub - cave, filled with stalactites, the air is cold and wet. A hole on the top brings the sunshine into the first cave which has a huge bronze lying Buddha statue. While some sub-caves are quite easy to move, the others are difficult to enter. Tourists even have to climb, crawl and wade in the water on the way. The deeper area, the harder path to follow. You can also see some small streams and underground waterfalls there. At the end of the cave, tourists can see a bridge across the Nam Song river. Standing on this bridge, you will have a view of all the Tham Phu Kham Cave area.
- Tham Nam: Tham Nam is known as Water Cave, located about 15 km to the north of Vang Vieng, Laos. It is the highlight of the cave system in Vang Vieng. Tham Nam is a beautiful water cave, you need to use ropes to go through the cave. It is 500 m long and takes you about 1 hour to float on the water inside the cave. The water cave is covered by the dark and there is only the light from your torch so if you afraid of the dark, you should not try this. There is a tour guide inside the cave who will direct how to move in this place during the trip because you not only need to follow the ropes but also get off your tube to wade in some shallow places and stop you from coming to the deep area. Notice that your hands may get hurt after holding the ropes for an hour and this area is only available for visiting in the dry season.
As well as other areas in Laos, Vang Vieng has several spiritual and historical relics related to Buddhism. Every morning there are also monks walking silent and barefoot, collect their alms from food vendors and passers-by but not as much as in Luang Prabang.
Rocket festival is a traditional festival in Vang Vieng which attracts many tourists every year. Rocket festival or Boun Bang Fai is a Buddhism festival, celebrated during June in the lunar calendar, before the rainy season. In this festival, the villagers will be firing their homemade rockets into the sky to pray for the rain. During the festival, villagers often wear colorful clothes and enjoy street – food, drinking, and dancing in Lao music.
Weather in Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng Riverside
Vang Vieng has a tropical savannah climate with dry and wet seasons. The most rain falls from May to September, the rest of the year is relatively dry. Temperatures are quite high all year, the average temperature is about 23°C – 33°C in the wet season and 15°C – 35°C in the dry season. Due to the geography that covered by many rivers, tourists should visit this area in the dry season to be able to enjoy all the famous destinations as well as festivals in Vang Vieng.
Transportation in Vang Vieng
- Airplane: you can go to some airline websites like Vietnam Airline, Vietjet, etc. to buy tickets to Vang Vieng but the tickets to Vang Vieng are quite expensive, you can buy tickets to Vientiane capital then catch a minibus to Vang Vieng, the bus ticket is about US$ 6.
- Bus: moving slower but the ticket price is cheaper than the airplane, this is a good idea for those who want to save budget. You can order from travel agencies or go to Hanoi Underground bus station to buy, the ticket price is about US$ 35/ticket - depending on your time.
- It must be said that Vang Vieng is a very small village compared to other big cities in Laos, there are no modern resorts, sophisticated buildings. Due to the peaceful atmosphere and adventure activities, Vang Vieng attracts a huge number of foreign tourists every year.
- Most of Vang Vieng's shops and hotels are located near the Nam Song River, a few companies located on Don Kang island.
- If you have been bored with the architecture and want to try something different, Vang Vieng is a good choice for you to immerse yourself with the beautiful nature by riding a bike, flying with hot air balloons, or floating in the river by kayak, etc.