Vang Vieng is even smaller than Luang Prabang and has a rustic backpacker beach town feel. It's a bit more similar to the vibe of Chiang Mai, with young people playing beer pong in bars and watching Friends or Family Guy in places with cushions where you can half lie down. There's a surprising number of older travellers as well. It's so chill we ended up staying for 2 weeks!
Maybe it's not party season now, but Vang Vieng doesn't seem to be as much of a party town as it's depicted, although you can still hear loud music playing in the busier part of the town. There are lots of expat-owned pubs and restaurants, serving Korean food, burgers, and even poutine! A fewshops also sell delicious-looking cake by the slice!
Most other restaurants have very similar menus. One that stands out though, is Luka Pizza, a house located on the same street as Adam's Climbing School. After 6 pm, he makes delicious thin crust pizzas using a wood-fired clay oven for 60,000 kip each - it takes a little while since he can only do one at a time, but it's definitely worth the wait.
Where we are staying (a 10-minute walk south of where most tourist shops are), it's very quiet. Although not as "nice" and sophisticated as Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng has very beautiful scenery, with shadowy karsts in the backdrop. It also seems quite a bit hotter and more humid. There's very little traffic, and it's so small that you can walk or cycle everywhere easily.
ATM and currency exchange places can be found around town although rates we saw in Luang Prabang were better. Some things in Vang Vieng also seem to be cheaper than in Luang Prabang.
You can get a fan room for 40,000 kip and a bungalow for 60,000-150,000 kip. Laundry can be as low as 5000 kip per kg.
Fruit shakes are just 5000 kip and crêpes as well as baguette sandwiches start at 10,000 kip. Cheaper cocktails start at just 10,000 kip!
Bicycle rental start at 10,000 kip, mountain bikes for 20,000 kip, and motorcycle rental for 30,000-60,000 kip, much lower prices than in Luang Prabang.
There are lots of activities advertised, mostly involving tubing, kayaking, cycling, or cave exploration. Tours start at less than $10 to $50+ USD. Most caving + tubing tours are around $20 USD. Full day or half day climbing courses are available as well.
Get a map with caves and trails in the surrounding area if you plan on exploring on your own, which can be done fairly easily - Hobo Map is pretty good.
A boat ride along the river is 80,000 kip. It costs $80 USD to for an hour up in a hot air balloon at 6:00/7:40/16:10. Note that it costs 4000 kip to cross the big wooden bridge that shakes when a car goes past - all other wooden bridges are free to cross. Of course it's also free to take a dip in the mostly pretty shallow river, but keep in mind that some locals wash vegetables and shampoo their hair in the river.
The temples here look quite different than in Luang Prabang - you might even see trucks with Buddha statues in the back!
|Getting elsewhere from Vang Vieng|