Friday, 7 June 2013

Vang Vieng, Laos: Caves, Waterfalls and Motorbikes

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I think Vang Vieng, part way between Vientiane and Luang Prabang in central Laos, is one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. Everywhere I looked a different photo-op was waiting for me and my trusty DSLR.

We spent 3 glorious nights in this tiny little town, and managed to take in what felt like a month's worth of adventures. Each day was started with a motorbike exploring the area and taking in various caves, viewpoints and waterfalls. At mid-day we would find something delicious to eat and then spend the rest of the afternoon mimicking the morning.  In the evenings it was a cool drink before a scrumptious meal and chatter until our eyes closed of their own volition.

A couple of my favourite stops included the Kaeng Nyui Waterfalls and a hike up to the top of the highest cliff in the area that offered a great panoramic of the Vang Vieng area. Kaeng Nyui was a real treat to find as it was very quiet, and we were able to play and explore a series of waterfalls and pools. We spent an entire morning here relaxing and playing because it was just so serene.

Blue Lagoon
Accessible from Vientiane or Luang Prabang by bus or private car, Vang Vieng is travellers dream. There is no shortage of budget choices with a few high end options thrown in for good measure.  One of the most famous "must do" items (that I admit we did not do) is to rent a tube and float down the Nam Song River.  At one time there were a series of bars and jump offs stretched along the river to allow people to float from drink to the next.  This is essentially what put Vang Vieng on the map, and unfortunately also meant the loss of a rumored 12-20 tourists a year in drowning accidents. The government has since closed these down in order to preserve the surroundings as well as the culture, but the tubing is still a hot ticket item for most passing through.

Lounging around at Riverside Boutique Resort
If you do travel through Vang Vieng (which I heartily recommend) please do so responsibly.  A few places of note that we discovered while in the town...

Stay: If you want to really splash out I couldn't reccommend the Riverside Boutique Resort more.  It was definitely our most luxurious stop with a view over the river and mountains to live for. Luxe, clean, curtious. Bikes on site to rent, though overpriced you'll find a million little places in town for half the cost.
Eat: Organic Mulberry Farm Cafe (no website), was my favourite meal in Vang Vieng. With two locations - one in town, and one at the actual farm (where we ate) - it was a good sample of Lao cuisine. The ingredients are fresh, the dishes tasty, and drinks cold. A perfect rest stop no matter what adventure your day holds.











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