Gone are the days of sloshed, sunburnt foreigners sporting body paint and stumbling about the roads unable to define the planet they’re on. After 27 deaths in 2011 and pressure from the Australian government to clean their act up, Vang Vieng has a new eco-tourism vibe that attracts loads of Koreans. Not even kidding, they’re everywhere. I saw more Koreans than foreigners and locals, but I digress. I really loved this in between city of Vientiane and Luang Prabang and it’s definitely still worth the visit. If you’re looking to get plastered, there’s still a party, but it ends at 12 a.m. (Oh damn.) Here’s ten things to do in Vang Vieng that aren’t getting completely hammered. So word of advice, don’t be that idiot trying to bring back “fetch” because that’s so not cool.
Related: The Perfect Vientiane Itinerary
This is always an exciting activity for those who love heights or are looking to push adrenaline because they’re afraid of heights. It’s a great morning activity before it gets too hot and the views of the limestone mountains and emerald rivers are stunning.
Conquer the Back Roads
It’s a well known roads in Laos are dusty, holey, and non-paved. Use extreme caution when driving and especially when maneuvering a manual transmission bike. Those mopeds cost less to rent but take more time getting used to. You’ll have a sore bum, but know you’ll have earned a badge of honor for doing so.
Alas, the famous blue lagoon famous for being well… Blue. My advice is go early in the morning and get amazing Instagram shots like I did. Many Koreans are up early, but luckily they can’t swim so be sure to get lots of photos when you’re there. P.s. The water is freezing but so refreshing.
Related: Things to do in Luang Prabang
Tham Jang Cave by the Blue Lagoon
Don’t make the same mistake I did and not bring your hiking shoes. It’s doable in flip flops, but it’ll take you so much more time and you risk a broken ankle. Rent a head light for 10,000 kip at the bottom because the cave can get pretty dark in some areas.
Blue Lagoon 3
This was originally not on our radar because we had no idea of its existence. A man-made lagoon, it’s more fun than the original Blue Lagoon because of the variety of activities offered. The family who runs this knows fun because there’s lots of swings, rafts and tubes for your afternoon pleasure. If you get hungry, the on site kitchen will provide a wicked fried rice. If you’re wondering where the Blue Lagoon 2 is, your guess is as good as mine.
Chase Kaeng Nyui Waterfall
If you go during dry season expect a small fall and you won’t be able to swim in it. The hike is super easy and it’s great to dip your toes in and enjoy the cool spray. When you go back down to the bottom, support the locals by buying snacks or a fresh coconut and enjoying them on a riverside cabana.
Eat at Gary’s Pub
I loved Gary’s Pub so much I went there to devour the tubing burger not only once, but twice. Every good day starts or ends with bacon, so why not? It’s a fun atmosphere to drink Beer Lao while watching soccer and playing pool.
Whoever said “because tubing isn’t a a major shit show, it isn’t fun anymore” needs to fly a kite. Tubing is still awesome if you grab your own drinks, some friends or a lover, and a hat to avoid sunburn. It’s also fun when your guide breaks out his flip flops as paddles, lights a cigarette and drinks simultaneously. Now that’s what I call a professional tuber.
Go Zip Lining into the River
Travel has made me more of an adrenaline junkie and I love jumping off high places into water. (Fun fact, I’m terrified of heights.) After you go tubing you’ll land at your last bar where a giant zipline stands over the river. Drink a few buckets, play some pong, watch the guys play soccer against the kids, and get warm by the bonfire late at night.
Watch Koreans Get Krunk at Sakura Bar
Alas, the famous t-shirt and slogan, “Drink Triple, See Double, Act Single” has merit at Sakura Bar. Don’t expect a super wild party as the drug use is no longer used but you can purchase a helium balloon with your friends and laugh your ass off. What’s more funny than talking a bunch of crap in a high pitched voice?
Watch a Hot Air Balloon Rise
Laos is really doing an amazing job to showcase its natural beauty. There are sunrise and sunset hot air balloon rides for $70, so you should definitely check it out whether you decide to ride or watch. Let’s be real, this photo is awesome.
Vang Vieng’s new look suits it well. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone running around at 4 am because they’ve had a bad drug trip or hearing people scream until the late hours of the night because they’re drunk. Getting hammered doesn’t have to be your main priority, but in my opinion, nature is more entertaining and less of a dehydration headache.