Vang Vieng, Laos
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Vang Vieng is known for being THE party place… Just like Las Vegas is known throughout the world as the party capital of the U.S., Vang Vieng has the same reputation amongst backpackers throughout Asia…
However, even if you’re not into the wild party-scene, Vang Vieng is a pretty cool place to be.
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I found the town to be pretty funny, actually…
Since pretty much every tourist flocks here, the town is very much equipped for Westerners… Here, you’ll find pizza, hamburgers, milkshakes, etc. I’m sure some tourists would really like this selection of food…
Also, every restaurant in town has huge flat-screen TVs playing reruns of either “Family Guy”, “Friends”, or “The Simpsons”… They REALLY try to make it seem just like the U.S. so that tourists feel comfortable and stay for a long time…
Rent a private bungalow for US$2.50 per night! It’s some of the cheapest accommodations in Asia… Not only are they extremely cheap AND private, but they’re also in a great location: The river on one side, mountains and sunset on the other… and far enough away from the party to get some sleep… Really, how can you go wrong?
There is some pretty awesome hiking around the mountains behind the town… Although, be aware that even walking will cost you money [which I don’t understand]… You’ll be walking for awhile on a path in the woods and then, out of no where, there’ll be a guy sitting in a hammock collecting money from tourists to use the path. It’s not a lot – only about US$1 or so, but still… why?! There’s no reason besides it’s an easy way for them to make money from you… really annoying… Nevertheless, the scenery is really amazing.
The main cave outside of town is called Lusi Cave [said like “Lucy”]… It costs money to enter because it pays for a private tour-guide so that you don’t get lost inside…
The price is about US$1.25 per person just to enter the beginning by yourself and about US$2.50 per person to have a private tour-guide take you all the way to the “Lagoon”… Some tourists even swim in this Lagoon but, um, it’s nothing great, it’s pitch black, and it’s chilly in the cave so… I passed on that offer…
The party scene is crazy and almost entirely in the river… Tourists rent tubes for about $5 per day and float down the river with drinks… Once you’re out of drinks, you just flag down the next “bar” located on the side of the river… they’ll throw you a rope and pull you in to re-stock [or for you to hang out at their bar].
The day consists of bar hoping via tubing or swimming, Tarzan-ropes into the water, games at each stop, dancing, etc…
So, every bar that you stop at along the river has bracelets to give out… some are different colors depending on the day and which bar… but you get a bracelet for every drink you have… I saw some people that were there for over one week, partied every day, and had bracelets up their entire arm!
Once you leave Vang Vieng and still have your bracelets on, other tourists immediately recognize what these bracelets are… which usually starts up interesting conversations…
It’s been over a year now since I’ve been to Vang Vieng and I still haven’t taken my bracelets off… of course no one I run into in the U.S. knows what these are, but I sure do!
Great times in Laos! :)