After the chilled out paradise of Luang Prabang, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Vang Vieng. We had heard that it was the party place in Laos, which worried me a little as I am the most boring person alive when it comes to partying.
Our 3-4 hour journey here took a casual 6-7 hours (standard Laos style). This time we stopped to exchange money with villagers, broke down twice in the mountains and nearly crashed multiple times. They like to keep you on your toes here.
Anyway, Vang Vieng was everything I expected it to be. An ugly town which has two main ‘strips’ that are lined with bars and stalls. It’s very backpacker orientated and the food is cheap and nothing special. Kind of like an Asian Kavos. The first hostel we checked into was lovely. It had a chilled out backpacker vibe and we met some great people to hang out with in the evenings, until midnight when our stay became less lovely and more ‘get me the f out of here’. We found bed bugs crawling across our pillows and on closer inspection found them under the bedsheets as well. I don’t think we have ever packed up and left somewhere as quickly! We checked in to a hotel for the night instead and the next morning got a full refund for the room, with a free laundry service chucked in.
So all in all, first impressions weren’t great! It was wasn’t until this morning, when we walked out of our room for breakfast that we realised where we were based. Now just outside of the town centre, we are currently surrounded by beautiful hills and karsts on all sides. I don’t think I have ever seen such an amazing landscape! We have spent our day climbing to the top of Pha Phoak, a smaller Karst which has another treacherous climb to the summit (it seems that danger is becoming the norm in Laos), but absolutely breathtaking views when you finally reach the top!
A lot of backpackers we have met seem to be here solely for the party scene. They drink, they go tubing (going down a river in a rubber ring, visiting different bars) and they generally laze around relaxing until the evening rolls on around. I can’t quite believe that people are willing to do this, when just 10 minutes outside of that ugly strip lies uninterrupted natural beauty.
Tomorrow I think we are going to try and go for a run down to the same area as there is a huge cave that we didn’t have time to explore!