Vang Vieng – the town famous for tubing, partying and deaths

From Luang Prabang I took a minivan on another long, windy, mountainous, beautifully scenic bus ride to Vang Vieng.  Unfortunately i couldn’t enjoy the beautifully scenery as i spent the 4 hour journey fearing for my life, trying not to fall off my chair and trying not to vomit.  The 762 bendy road from Chiang Mai to Pai has nothing on these roads…or maybe its just that Laos drivers are crazy. We beeped our way round bend after bend, warning other traffic to get out of the way as they won’t fit on the road as well. I have never felt so car sick!!!

Vang Vieng used to be Laos’ party capital, its well known for its “tubing”, the act of jumping in an old lorry tyre inner tube, and floating down the Nam Song river. There used to be bars set up all along the river so tubers would stop for a few drinks before continuing along the lazy river.  All of those businesses were demolished a few months ago for a couple of reasons…the main reason being that there were over 20 deaths last year alone from the unsafe zip-lines, “death slide”, tarzan ropes and other ways of jumping into the – very low during dry season – river…these were all due to very very drunk tourists. The tubing scene has pretty much died since the closure of the riverside bars.

So I’ll just warn you that this blog is not going to be full of history about the town and sightseeing as the only reason i came to Vang Vieng was because my birthday was coming up and i thought this would be a fun place to party a little.  I knew that with all the bars demolished along the river and the travellers having gone from thousands arriving daily to only a few, it wouldn’t be the crazy tubing party that i have heard about for years.  I even debated whether it was worth making the journey here.

It turned out that actually its not the town that made my birthday so memorable, its the most amazing people that i met here.  Some were old faces from Luang Prabang that i had had brief conversation with and knew we would be heading to Vang Vieng around the same time and some were new faces….Jade (the coolest english girl ever), Rael (the funny brit), Petra (the cutest austrian), Maria (the dr), Rob and Mike (my new york boys who were the sweetest gentlemen i have ever met and i love their accent), Owen (the travelling guru), Cait (the canadian sweetheart), Ari (the funny israeli), Max (the quiet and funny german) and Nick (the hillarious leeds boy) just to name a few.  what amazing people!!!!! Thank you to all of them for making my day so special xxxxxxx

All but 2 of us were staying at the same hostel and we became a big family immediately.  Planning what our daily activities would be as a group from the moment we met.  First up was a trip to the blue lagoon, with beautiful blue-green water, where we spent the day in the sun jumping out of the tree into the water, swing from a rope into the water, swing on swings, playing cards etc.  What a great first day together.

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That night we decided to go to the “jungle party” being thrown which turned out to be anything but in the jungle. It was more like someone’s back garden. We decided to spice our night up and try mushroom shakes before the party. Some restaurants and bars have ‘special menus’ listing items such as marijuana, mushrooms and opium. Consuming these drugs on the premises is fairly safe, although drugs are illegal in Laos and nothing is totally safe. Well it was an interesting night on the shroom shakes. I lost my ability to talk, giggled non stop and hallucinated like crazy. I will never try them again. The mind going crazy and hallucinating is just not my thing!!

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Finally the day of my birthday rolled around and it was TUBING day…yay!!!!  So what if there was not going to be thousands of people partying on the river, loud music blasting and lots of drinking going on.  A nice size group of us headed down to the river with a few beers each and started our 3.5 hour journey down the river.  It was sad to see where the bars had been positioned before and i really would have loved to have seen it back in the day but we still had a  BRILLIANT time!!!!  We also ended up that night going to a Laos club…there were about 7 of us, i though it was pretty funny but the boys felt really uncomfortable due to all the lady boys in the club 😉

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my lovely bday shirt from everyone!!!

my lovely bday shirt from everyone!!!

The rest of my time in Vang Vieng was spent lounging by the pool and topping up my tan.  Also Vang Vieng is known for their restaurants playing endless episodes of friends and family guy.  I loved chilling at Banana bar, on the cushion watching friends, so relaxing 😉

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I wanted to catch the 27 hour sleeper bus to Vietnam which would have cost me around 20 pounds but due to my stupid planning when i went to book a bus i was told that they are all full due to the Vietnamese New Year on the 10th. And there are no spaces available on the buses until at least the 18th Feb. I was not prepared to hang around Vang Vieng until then so i had no other choice but to book a flight for 100 pounds. Cuts into my budget a little but I’ll just have to cut back in other ways.

I left Vang Vieng at 10am on a bus to the Capital of Laos, Vientiane.  Go to the aiport way before my 9pm flight but thank goooodness i ran into my New York boys so i only ended up being at the airport for about 2 hours on my own.  The flight to Veitnam was only about 50 min if even that.  First impressions of Hanoi….people at home think that the taxi drivers are crazy back in South Afria but actually they have nothing on the drivers here.  I amost died twice on the way to my hostel.  There are no road rule here!!!!!  Anyway i’m in Hanoi Vietnam…again not sure for how long.  Thanks for all the comments on blog, love reading them.  Cheers fo now xxx

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