Thursday, March 6, 2014


We got to the tubing center near the free bridge around 9:30 am. The fee is 55,000 kip plus a 60,000 kip deposit. First you go to the counter & fill in your name and some info then sign a contract promising you will return the tube before 6 pm or pay a 20,000 kip fine. The staff will hand you a tube and write a number on your hand with a permanent marker - they'll find your contract receipt with this number when you return the tube to give you back the deposit.
Everything you have on you you'll need to carry, so make sure you have a waterproof pouch which they sell all around town. If you wear flip flops, you'll need to carry that somehow. Locals frown upon foreigners walking around in bikinis so you should wear something to cover up. Make sure you have sunscreen or something to cover your face.

Once there were a few people on the tuk tuk, it took about 10 minutes to drive north to the tubing drop off point, in front of an organic farm that makes goat cheese. The first bar's right there by the river. It was not even open when we got there.

We were told by bar staff that the first bar starts to get busy usually around noon and the third bar (named Second) around 2 pm. They shut most of the bars except for four 18 months ago - all four bars are pretty close together, some offering free Lao whiskey shots. If you want some peace and quiet, then go before noon. If you want to party, then leave after noon. People who started later said it was still a lot of fun with many people partying, although people were puking all over the place and passing out.

The signs are clearly visible from the river so you can stop if you want to. We went to the 3rd and 4th bar, but there were very few people and no sign of any "happy" drinks. The bars were nice enough little huts by the river, with hammocks and food for sale. Big Beerlao was 15,000 kip and a Bacardi Breezer was 30,000 kip.
Because March is the start of the hot season, it takes 3 hours without stopping to float down the river. During the wet season, it supposedly takes just one hour. Most of the time, the flow was very slow with the exception of a few very brief rapids. The water was very shallow for the most part. In fact, sometimes your bum scraps against the rocks on the bottom because it's barely ankle-deep — not the most pleasant experience.

Even though the view was nice and it was relaxing, it was really not very exciting since it was so slow and took so long - it's probably more fun just after the wet season. Around 3, I ended up leaving before the end where there's a sign saying "2 km left". I paid a tuk tuk driver waiting by the riverbank 30,000 kip to drive me back to the tubing station — it'd probably be cheaper if there's more than one person. If you go the rest of the way, towards the end a bit before the free bridge, you'll see a sign signalling the end. If you keep on going until the free bridge, the water might turn warm and yucky just after the island — just imagine why that might be...