Sullied Eden, or Hedonists Paradise? That is how the Lonely Planet describes Vang Vieng – a town that exists purely for tourists to be bad, bad people. The town itself is nothing special, only dodgy restaurants that endlessly run 'Friends' repeats. I'll confess – after seeing it again after all these years, it really was a great show! Massive jagged limestone karsts rise out of the river valley, and so the scenery is pretty spectacular really.
But what the town is really famous for is the activity known as 'tubing'. For a small fee, a local operator will drop you in a tuktuk, along with your tractor tyre tube, 3 km upriver, where you then proceed to float along stopping off at bars that have been built on the banks along the way to party the afternoon away. There are waterslides, ziplines, and swings out into the water (it really does look like a scene out of the movie Waterworld), along with thumping tunes that resemble a Ministry of Sound Annual from 5 years ago. They also are quite ruthless with the remix. Each day you get a different colour cotton band, which entitles you to (more) free booze in town later that night.
Our friends Joe and Laura had been there quite a while already, and had in fact loved it so much they'd gone back. Instead of hiring a tube, they recommended just swimming, as everyone steals your tube anyway. We got to the first bar, had a beer and then got in the river and swam to the next one. This is where I was introduced to buckets. For less than the cost of a beer in NZ, you can buy a bucket, usually Whiskeylao and Sprite, plus M180, which is a cheap substitute for Red Bull. If you can handle the taste (usually like Kerosene), this is an economical way to wile away the day drinking in the sun. After acquiring a couple of wristbands and a two day hangover, we left for Vientiane and the journey further south.
Vientiane didn't interest us much, and we did washing and other admin here before moving on. It really is just another big Asian city, which true to the theme of this trip so far, we've discovered doesn't interest us at all. We've decided not to return to Bangkok, and instead to head further South to Si Phan Don, soak up some sun on a small beach, and then head into Cambodia that way. We are in love with Laos, and just don't want this part of the trip to end.
Lanzatech makes the 2010 Guardian Cleantech 100
6 years ago