Top 10 Best Things to Do in Vang Vieng, Laos

Beautiful limestone mountains, green rice paddies, crystal clear blue lagoons, amazing local food, and friendly people. Sounds amazing, right? You can have it all in Vang Vieng!

During our one week in Laos, we spent the majority of our time in Vang Vieng and it definitely became my favorite place in the country. I collected the top 10 best things to do in Vang Vieng to inspire you to visit this beautiful gem in Laos!

*Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

Best Things to Do in Vang Vieng

To make your life easier I collected all the best things to do in Vang Vieng with their exact locations in the below map.

How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.

1. Try the famous river tubing

Vang Vieng used to be famous for its drunk and often drugged-up backpackers whose favorite activity was tubing down on the Nam Song River and having a drink or two at every bar they could find along the river.

As one can expect, without any proper ground rules things got out of hand quickly which resulted in many serious accidents. After many deaths have been reported the government banned the whole activity and decided to give a full safety transformation for the river-tubing.

Nowadays the tubing takes place in a much safer environment and almost all the riverside bars had been closed down, only a handful of them are allowed to be open at the same time.

Thanks to these restrictions Vang Vieng has completely been rebranded and now it’s more about the outdoor adventures and the beautiful scenery rather than a party scene for drunk backpackers.

However, river tubing still remained one of the best things to do in Vang Vieng so if you’re feeling adventurous definitely go for it! If you want to try river tubing, you can hire tubes and dry bags from the Tubing Center in the middle of the town.

Renting a tube costs 60,000 kip ($3.50 US) and you also need to pay 60,000 kip deposit ($3.50 US). Depending on the current flow of the river the whole activity can be completed in 3-5 hours. You will still find some bars along the river and drinking alcohol is not banned but please be careful!

I haven’t tried this activity myself but if you’re interested in reading about a personal experience, check out my friend’s post about river tubing in Vang Vieng!

And please don’t forget about travel insurance! Unfortunately, accidents can happen anytime and it’s better to be prepared for that. After many hours of research, I decided to choose SafetyWing and I can honestly recommend them! You can use the below form to get a quotation tailor-made to your own travel preferences.

2. Admire the views from Nam Xay Viewpoint

If tubing is not your thing you don’t need to worry: Vang Vieng has so much more to offer! The second best thing to do in Vang Vieng is definitely hiking.

There are many viewpoints in the mountains from where you can have an amazing view but if you have only time for one, make it to the Nam Xay Viewpoint!

The starting point is located 20 minutes from the city center so you need to either rent a scooter/buggy or hire a tuk-tuk driver to get there. Once you arrived you need to pay 10,000 kip ($0.60 US) as an entrance fee.

Although I’ve read on a lot of other blogs that they considered this hike easy-moderate I will be completely honest with you: I found it very very hard!

There is a marked pathway so you will not get lost but the roads are very tricky and rocky. The first section didn’t seem so bad but after a point, you are basically doing rock climbing and you will need all your hands and feet for that.

It takes around 30-45 minutes to reach the top depending on your fitness level and the view is absolutely worth all the struggle!

Just please be very careful, wear appropriate clothing and if you’re going for sunset don’t stay up too long because doing this hike in the dark can result in serious injuries.

3. Hike up to the Pha Ngern Viewpoint

The other most popular viewpoint in Vang Vieng is the Pha Ngern Viewpoint. It’s located fairly close to the city center, only a 5-10 minute drive away. You need to follow the main road after crossing the bridge and you will find a turning point around the TCK Buggy Car Station.

From here you need to follow the signs and you will easily find the starting point. You need to buy a ticket for this hike as well which costs 10,000 kip ($0.60 US).

Based on what I’ve heard this is a very difficult hike, even more, difficult than the one to the Nam Xay Viewpoint. Since I found that one quite challenging as well I decided not to go for this one so I have no personal experience.

I only recommend doing this hike if you’re in very good shape as it takes around 1-2 hours to complete and the terrain is quite hard as well.

There are two separate viewpoints along the road and both of them offer an amazing 360 view over the whole area so I’m sure you will be rewarded for all your efforts if you decide to do it!

4. Swim in one of the Blue Lagoons

Vang Vieng is quite famous for its blue lagoons and spending the day in the crystal clear blue water is definitely one of the best things to do in Vang Vieng! You will find several blue lagoons around the city and they are all numbered.

The Blue Lagoon 1, 2, and 3 are the closest ones to the city and they are the most popular ones as well.

It’s important to know that the water in the blue lagoons is only blue in the dry season or if it hasn’t been raining for a couple of weeks. Otherwise, you will find them all brown and kinda disappointing. We visited at the end of February and luckily they were all blue and crystal clear.

You need to rent either a scooter/buggy or hire a tuk-tuk to get to the blue lagoons. Although many hotels offer free bicycles rentals I don’t recommend actually using them since the blue lagoons are quite far away from the city center.

The entrance fee is between 10,000 – 20,000 kip ($0.60 – $1.20 US) per person for each blue lagoon and if you manage your time wisely you can easily visit more of them in a day.

Blue Lagoon 3 in Vang Vieng, Laos

5. Visit the Tham Chang Cave

Actually, you can find many different caves around Vang Vieng, most of them are located in the blue lagoons.

Tham Chang Cave is the most popular one and since it’s fairly close to the city center it’s a real must-visit in Vang Vieng. If you’re staying in the center you can easily walk there or you can take a bicycle.

In order to reach the cave first, you have to pass through a resort which costs 5,000 kip ($0.30 US) per person.

After that, you need to walk across an orange bridge and you will easily find the entrance of the cave where you need to buy a ticket for 15,000 kip ($0.90 US) per person.

There are different pathways inside the cave and you will also find a small blue pool by the entrance.

6. Rent a buggy to explore the area

Vang Vieng is truly one of the most beautiful places in Laos and while you can hire a tuk-tuk to drive you around, the best way to explore the area is to rent a buggy and roam around the gorgeous scenery in your own pace.

You can also rent a scooter but I don’t recommend this as there are no concrete roads (only until you reach the Blue Lagoon 1), the roads are full of holes and everything is really dusty.

There are several places in Vang Vieng where you can rent a buggy, we rented it from TCK Tours (I marked their offices on the map below).

The prices depend on the type of the buggy (2 or 4 seats) and on the duration (1-6 hours). For example, we rented a buggy with 2 seats for 5 hours and it cost us 400,000 kip ($23 US).

Having a buggy gives you the freedom to go wherever you want and explore the area at your own pace. We decided to do the following route: after crossing the bridge we went to the Blue Lagoon 1, then drove up to Blue Lagoon 3, and finally drove down to Blue Lagoon 2 before heading back to our hotel.

You can complete this small circle anywhere between 3-5 hours depending on how much time do you want to spend at the blue lagoons or how frequently you stop to admire the scenery.

Red buggy on the roads in Vang Vieng

7. Enjoy the views from a hot air balloon

When talking about hot air balloons, most people instantly think about Cappadocia in Turkey or Bagan in Myanmar. However, you can go for a hot air balloon ride in Vang Vieng as well!

However, don’t expect a sky full of balloons as only a few ballooning companies operate in the area.

If you’re interested in the hot air balloon ride, I would recommend checking out Above Laos. Their flights start from $130 US per person which is totally budget-friendly compared to the crazy high prices in Cappadocia or Bagan.

They have a sunrise flight every day and they also offer sunset flights on some days.

8. Get a traditional Laos massage

If you’re looking for a relaxing experience you need to try the traditional Laos massage! This type of massage is based on the body’s pressure points and the masseuses use their own body weight to add force to the rhythmic repetition.

The treatment usually starts with foot reflexology and then moves up to the legs, back, arms and head.

We tried the traditional Laos massage at the Riverside Sala Spa and I can only recommend this place. The Spa is located in a remote area inside the Riverside Boutique Resort, right next to the Nam Song River.

The ambiance of the place is very quiet and relaxing and it offers an amazing view over the mountains. A 60-minute long session costs 200,000 kip ($12 US) per person.

Riverside Sala Spa in Vang Vieng
Riverside Sala Spa in Vang Vieng

9. Have a boat ride on the Nam Song River

Although tubing is still the most popular river activity luckily this is not your only option. If tubing is not your thing but you’d still like to experience the scenic views from the Nam Song River you can either go kayaking or rent a long-tail boat.

Many tour companies offer kayak or boat rentals across the city, basically, you just need to walk around the streets and choose the one you like. If you don’t have the time for searching you can also ask your hotel to arrange a rental for you or you can book a guided tour online.

Long-tail boats along the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, Laos

10. Try the local Lao cuisine

Generally, you will find the best Laotian dishes on every restaurant’s menu, however, if you would like to get a complex experience I would recommend trying the Lao Degustation Menu at the Restaurant du Crabe d’Or.

The menu is composed of 5 different dishes served at the same time. Although the menu contains fish and meat, if you’re a vegetarian they can offer you other types of dishes to try like tofu or stir-fry vegetables.

If you’re planning to eat at the Restaurant du Crabe d’Or I highly recommend booking a table in advance. Since this is the top-rated restaurant in Vang Vieng it fills up quickly in the evenings.

Try to get a table outside since the restaurant offers an amazing view over the Nam Song River and the limestone mountains.

Laotian dishes in Vang Vieng
Lao degustation menu at the Restaurant Crabe d’Or

Useful Info for Visiting Vang Vieng

Where to stay in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng has limited options when it comes to accommodation but luckily you can always find a good place for every budget. There are no luxury hotels in the area but there are a few cute boutique resorts with amazing views.

Below you can see my recommendations or you can check all the accommodations in Vang Vieng here.

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng Pool
The beautiful pool at Riverside Boutique Resort

How to get to Vang Vieng

Back in the day, the only option to visit Vang Vieng was to take a long, bumpy, and winding bus or minivan ride from either Luang Prabang or Vientiane.

The route from Luang Prabang was especially notorious for its hair-raising twists and turns through the mountains. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the worst bus rides of my life!

Luckily, things have improved since then, and with the completion of the new Boten-Vientiane railway (which is the Lao section of the Lao-China Railway), getting to Vang Vieng has become much easier and more comfortable.

Now you can just easily board the train from either Luang Prabang or Vientiane and within one hour you’ll be in Vang Vieng. Plus, the views from the train are absolutely breathtaking!

Best time to visit Vang Vieng

Laos has only two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. The wet season runs from May to September while the dry season lasts from October to April. The temperature is usually the hottest between March and July while the rainiest period is from July to September.

Although Vang Vieng can be visited all year round, the best time highly depends on what are you planning to do.

For example, hot air balloons only fly in the dry season and if you want to visit the blue lagoons you should do it in the dry season too, otherwise, they will be brown and disappointing in the rainy season.

However, if you’re mainly looking for lush green rice paddies and mountains and you want to try tubing, the early wet season will be a better choice for you.

Planning a trip to Laos?

Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Laos. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!

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Top 10 Best Things to Do in Vang Vieng, Laos

44 thoughts on “Top 10 Best Things to Do in Vang Vieng, Laos”

  1. I’ve never thought about going to Laos, but this post has me wanting to go! I’d love to rent a buggy and visit a blue lagoon!

    • Laos is often overlooked when talking about Southeast-Asia but I really loved the country! And luckily it’s not so touristy yet so it’s definitely a unique experience to visit πŸ™‚

  2. I really appreciate how thorough this article is – a one-stop shop for everything Vang Vieng. The hikes really do look amazing and your photos are beautiful!

    • Aww you are so sweet, thank you!! I really love photography and I’m so happy when I get such a positive feedback πŸ™‚

  3. Your photos are gorgeous! Laos has been on my bucket list for a while – I’ll definitely be coming back to this blog post when I begin planning my trip! So much great information.

  4. I’d love to visit Laos. It’s a place I’ve never been but I’ve seen some really cool photos from there (like yours).

  5. This is such an underrated travel destination. But it’s definitely on our list. Laos looks like an incredible destination. We were actually planning to go in a few months but now we are unsure we will be able to πŸ™

    • Oh I’m so sorry to hear about that! Yeah traveling is really tough right now but I hope this craziness will pass in 1-2 months and then we will be able to travel again! πŸ™‚

  6. I was supposed to visit Laos a while back but something interfered with my plans.. Seeing all thees wonderful photos makes me want to plan a trip asap! Great post πŸ™‚

  7. Laos looks so beautiful and it’s still not very touristy. Will save this location for the future πŸ˜‰ love the look of your blog btw! Xoxo Aga

  8. Awww this brings back so many memories! I met my soon to be husband in Laos 12 years ago πŸ™‚ Loved the country and the relaxed vibe in Vang Vieng. Thanks for sharing this post and omg such nice pictures – makes me want to go back.

  9. I loved your Laos trip so much! This looks beautiful and I hope to go here when all this is over ? Also, how stunning is that view from the top?

    • It really depends which blue lagoon you visit. The Blue Lagoon 1 is the most famous so it’s usually quite crowded but the other ones receive less attention, at least for now πŸ™‚

  10. How beautiful this place look! I want to visit Laos and experience all the amazing hikes with views and blue lagoons! Thanks for all the info you provided, it’s super insightful!

  11. I’ve actually been thinking about Laos as one of my next destinations. How did you find the internet connection there for working?

    • Well, the internet connection is not the best.. We bought some local sim cards with internet but we usually only got 3G. I was able to work on the hotel wifi but that was quite slow as well. But since we only spend one week in the country it was fine, but staying there long time when you want to work can be quite challenging!

  12. I travelled Asia last year and unfortunately missed Laos out. I’m gutted after reading this, but a good reason to go back!
    Thank you for sharing X

  13. I loved Vang Vieng the most too in Laos buy due to time constraints, I couldn’t go to the blue lagoon. Next time I would love to go.

  14. This makes me so sad that I didn’t make it to Laos when I was in Southeast Asia. Would love to go river tubing and take a dive in the blue lagoons. Great post.

  15. Wow. A jam packed post. I wish I had this when I went to hang vieng. I have visited this city twice. Once in 2012 when it was still a huge party scene and once in 2016 and it was quite different. I’m not going to lie, tubing in Vang vieng in 2012 is one of my favorite travel memories, even if it was a bit dangerous


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