Vang Vien

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In central northern Laos is the town of Vang Vien, a fairly unremarkable place in itself, were it not for tubing on the Nam Song river! Vang Vien is little more than a village but has made its name in the international backpackers' circuit by providing the unique experience of being able to float down the Nam Song in an inner tube.

We spent a night in Vang Vien, having arrived with the express purpose of tubing. We fell out of the bus from Vientiane, checked into the hostel on whose doorstep we fell, then jumped in our inner tubes for an afternoon of fun and relaxation. The next morning, it was the bus back to Vientiane then flying on to Thailand.

Take me to the river

The Nam Song river is backed by these spectacular mountains along its length as it flows past Vang Vien.

The river was very pretty in the afternoon sun, the whole area was naturally very spectacular.



A traditional type of bamboo bridge crossing the river, with some not-so-typical British tourists floating away underneath it. Kind of spoils the image really...

Along the river banks are many bar/recreation areas selling cheap Beer Lao and offering entertainment by way of rope swings and aerial runways. Great fun!

A swingin' time


The town of Vang Vien itself, a fairly quiet backwater type of place.

Just before dawn in the large empty area of town where the buses pick up and drop off, mountains towering above the clouds in the distance.



The main highway from Vientiane to Vang Vien, no need to add extra lanes here!

The bus journey back to Vientiane was on a local bus, and was full of local colour. The rear window was a bedsheet, the suspension had long since rusted solid, and the journey was made all the more entertaining when a women transporting fifteen baskets of fish joined our merry gang.

Another one rides the bus


Most of the countryside we drove through to get back to the capital was populated with such bamboo huts, which makes a pretty picture.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2006