Go River Tubing in Vang Vieng Village, Laos
If you are backpacking in Southern Asia, you would be doing yourself a great injustice by missing Laos. This great country neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia is a backpackers’ paradise. The mountainous terrain and shallow rivers make it ideal for river tubing. Plus everything here is super cheap.
Vang Vieng village
Vang Vieng was relatively unknown except to a few backpackers who did the south Asian trail enjoying the hedonistic pleasures of the land. In 1999, an organic farmer named Thanongsi Sorangkoun had an idea of improving his visitors’ experiences. He inflated a few tractor tire tubes and invited the guests to float down the river enjoying their favorite drinks. A new tourism concept in the area came to life.
From then on natives have formed 10 cooperatives that take turns hiring out the tubes to visitors. Bars and other pleasure joints sprung up on the river’s banks. The cliffs on the banks also became attractive spots to place ziplines, giant swings, and slides.
How to get there
You take a minivan from Vientiane that usually crams six or seven other people. The ride ends at Vang Vieng which is unmistakable. The lights, noise and general human traffic will point to a party going on in the vicinity.
The concept of tubing is very simple. You rent an inner inflated tire tube for around $13 (including deposit), get to the start of the tubing ride on the Nam Song River, get into the water and float down the river.
Party never stops
Floating down the river while enjoying a drink and meeting new people is great fun. There are bars and barbecue spots lined along the tubing route. If you see a bar or a party going on that you like, the local guys throw you a rope and pull you in. You have your fun and if you need to move to the next point, just get back to the river and tube down to the next stop.
You have to return your tube by 6 pm if you need your deposit back. At this hour, the nocturnal come to life. The music is amped up and the drinks come out. Many joints will have reruns of popular American sitcoms playing on the TV and some DJ playing music to the revelers outside.
Vang Vieng used to largely pull twentysomething backpackers for the wild unregulated fun, but the authorities have tempered things a bit in the recent past such that even more mature tourists feel welcome. It is a great place to visit any time of the year.