THE ASIA DIARIES #8: VANG VIENG
001. Up towards northern Laos lies a small town called Vang Vieng- dwarfed by huge limestone cliffs, situated next to a calm flowing river and among the endless fields. We stayed in Vang Vieng for almost two weeks, it was one of our favourite places in Laos. It was bloody cheap and bloody beautiful. We opted to stay over the bridge on the other side of the river at a place ironically called "Otherside Bungalows" for $8 a night, with clean shared bathrooms only 5 steps from the hammock strung up on our porch. For the price and sheer beauty of this place I cannot recommend it enough. Yes it is basic- but where else can you find accommodation that includes hot showers, a cute family of goats running around your field and uninterrupted views of giant cliffs nearby for that price?!
002. Food in Vang Vieng is really cheap too. We bought a lot of fruit from roadside market stalls, but also ate out all the time too. Along almost every street there are women with carts selling fruit shakes, and cheap rolls. Think along the lines of Bunnings sausage sizzle but 110% better and half the price. Amazing! In addition to these super cheap streets eats Vang Vieng is also a big fan of what I refer to as "Friends restaurants." Essentially on the main street there are at least 3 big restaurants serving up nearly the exact same menu and playing back-to-back episodes of Friends on huge flat screen TV's all day every day. Honestly, I love Friends but it is easy to get sucked into sitting there while eating and without realising you've watched 4 episodes. A very good spot to soak up free wifi or for hungover backpackers to recover.
003. Vang Vieng has a reputation of being a party town- you can easily find bars with free alcoholic buckets on offer and get black-out-drunk every night for literally next to nothing money wise. However, me and Ben weren't really into that scene, instead we opted to do more the adventure things around town and enjoy the picturesque landscapes. It was at this point in our trip that we discovered something called Hobo Maps- what a miracle. If you've ever been to Asia you may know that good directions and well-signed roads do not exist. Hobo Maps is a website that has easy to understand and EXTREMELY helpful maps of many destinations in Laos. Without this handy-dandy little discovery I have no doubt that we wouldn't have been able to find half of the things we did. If you're ever in Laos, go on the Hobo Maps website- you will thank me later I promise.
004. Our adventures in Vang Vieng consisted of a lot of walking, mountain climbing, trying to find non-existent swimming holes and cave exploring. One cave was so muddy and narrow, I didn't think I would make it out. But thank god I did and we continued exploring to other caves that were bigger than my entire house and completely claustrophobia free. We visited the famous Blue Lagoon- perfectly crystal clear blue and perfect for a dip. It is easily accessible by hiring bikes for the day and taking in the rural town mountain views on the journey. Honestly, it is very touristy but it was a unique thing to see and the bike ride made it even more worthwhile. One of my favourite parts was discovering a tiny little cave with crystal clear water that no one else was even swimming in. We had our own little mermaid pool all to ourselves- bliss! I'll let the secret out and tell you that it's located down the bottom of the Tham Chang cave, almost hidden in the edge of the mountain. If you are ever in town go check it out- a way nicer experience than the crazy Blue Lagoon.
005. Apologies again for another long post, but we loved this town so much I just couldn't help myself but try to tell you all how great it is! Vang Vieng is the most beautiful little town and has SO much more to offer than just a party scene- I highly recommend stopping by, you will not regret it! The next part of our travel journey takes us up to Northern Laos... so stay tuned.