Last known location: London, England

Down the tubes in Vang Vieng

On leaving Vientiane we headed 4 hours north to the small town of Vang Vieng. Until a few years ago it was just a quiet village, but is now a major stop on the backpacker trail, midway between the capital and Luang Prabang in the north.

The main attraction is Tubing, where you hire an old tractor tire inner tube from the cartel in town, are driven about 4km upstream, and then drift slowly back down the river to where you started, sat on the inner tube. The added attraction is that along the way there are about a dozen bars to stop off at for a drink, and they throw a rope out into the river to haul you in. Some of them have slides and rope swings to keep you amused as well. Having seen literally hundreds of people around south-east Asia wearing ‘I went tubing in Vang Vieng’ t-shirts we thought it was rude not to give it a go!

We started at about 3, which is a bit late apparently, and as we were there in the dry season the river was flowing very slowly, meaning a bit of paddling was required! We stopped at a quite a few different places, most of which were just small platforms by the edge of the river with a coolbox and a stereo, and we got a few free Lao whiskeys for our trouble too (it wasn’t nice – we could see why they were giving it away!). The landscape around the town is spectacular, with huge limestone outcrops popping out from nowhere, and it was a sunny day, so it was a good way to spend a chilled afternoon – floating down the river with a beer watching the scenery float by. As we got nearer to Vang Vieng the river got shallower and shallower until we started getting marooned on rocks and so eventually gave it up and headed back to town on a taxiboat – the driver seemed to know the only part of the river that was deep enough!

It seemed that a lot of people might have been hitting the beers a bit harder than us, and in the evening there were plenty of people stumbling about in the street! The day we went tubing was Australia Day, so there were plenty of Aussies out enjoying themselves! We put or drinking hats on for a while, but couldn’t keep up the pace!  The next day we did feel a bit smug; we felt relatively normal but could see there were a LOT of sore heads stumbling around town!

We only stayed for 2 nights, before getting the bus to Luang Prabang, our last stop in Laos. Although it was about a hundred miles, the journey was a 7 hour marathon through the mountains. Progress was pretty slow as we went up and down one mountain after another, but the views were spectacular as the bus got perilously close the edge. Just don’t look down!

  1. Imogen 4 Feb, 2011

    Tubing is definitely something I am going to have to try in Laos! We’re heading to Singapore tomorrow for a few days of rest before Malaysia. How long are you going to be in Thailand? xxx

  2. Alan 7 Feb, 2011

    All sounds good – looking forward to the next update!

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