Vang Vieng



We were able to take a long weekend and make a trip to Vang Vieng. This is the first time we have been able to travel in the countryside of Lao. We travelled four hours by minibus north of Vientiane.

Vang Vieng is an old town from the 1300’s but it expanded during the Vietnam War, 1964-1973, when the US constructed an air force base and runway. The runway is still highly visible. It is known as a tourist town with many outdoor activities—tubing and kayaking on the river, trekking, rock climbing, and caving. We were not the typical tourist!

Since tourism is such a big thing here we had heard that it can get very noisy with partying; however, we stayed in a guest house on the quiet side of the Nam Song River. We had to cross the river by a wooden bridge every time we went to town. Our bungalow looked out over rice patties to the karst hills. (“Karst is a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks…. It is characterized by sinkholes, caves, and underground drainage systems.”[web]) They reminded us of the hills we saw in Halong Bay, Vietnam and are of the same geological formation.

One morning we hiked to a cave. This required walking along a very rough road, along and through a river to the cave. The first two times we had to cross the river, we took off our shoes; by the third time we left them on and just trudged through the water. It was very hot and humid and the water felt good. When we finally got there, it was difficult to locate the opening; besides, we had been told we would need to crawl through the cave. We weren’t interested in doing that so just enjoyed the hike.

Another morning we rented mountain bikes and biked for about two hours. The first half hour we had to ride along the same very rough road which also had a fair amount of traffic—motorbikes, cars, ATVs, cows, people. We then were able to turn off to a quieter and smoother road. We saw more rice fields and small villages. It was a very pleasant morning—except for one thing. It was very hot and humid! (While we were in Vang Vieng, the weather reminded us of our visit to the Amazon, only there was no breeze off the river.)

We returned to our guest house just as the rain arrived. It then rained most of the time until we left. It was nice to sit on our verandah and watch the rain. We also watched the rice being planted—in the rain. The rains have been very late this year so everyone was rejoicing that they had finally arrived.

While it rained, we played a number of games of Canasta. However, the weather was so damp that the cards stuck together. When we returned to Vientiane, we spread the cards over our bed in the air-conditioned room to help dry them.

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