Vang Vieng, Laos is a place that is notoriously known for its crazy partying and not so legal mind altering substances. A wormhole where you can loose yourself for a week as you party and tube non-stop. Stories of heavy partying, drugs, and crazy tubing accidents made its rounds amongst the backpacker’s grapevine but still, everybody goes. Nowadays, Vang Vieng is no longer what it used to be. The government has cracked down on the bars and the crazy rope swings and jumping platforms were taken down due to the many accidents that were happening. The Nam Song River used to be the “golden age” for hardcore travelers who did nothing but party all day. Despite the closure of a few river bars, tubing in Vang Vieng is still a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Tubing can be arranged from the main village and is rather inexpensive considering it was a whole day event and you can take as long as you want. As any normal river tubing would go, you get your rubber tubes and you float down the river. After a few meters, you will see a series of 4 or 5 bars on the side. The bars throw ropes at you and you reel yourself in as you get ready for the mayhem to begin. Every bar varies but each one encourages one thing…a lot of drinking and partying! Every bar that we stopped at had its own gimmick. Drinking games, beer pong, drunken volleyball, dancing in the rain. You get the picture. Every shot that you would do would earn you a simple thread bracelet which all backpackers wore proudly. The more bracelets you had meant the more shots you did. Clever tactic by the bars, really.
Related: Planning your Dream Trip to Laos
Cost of Tubing in Vang Vieng:
As of 2015, once you head to the office, you pay around 60,000 kip ($6) for the rental plus 60,000 kip deposit and sign a waiver releasing them of any responsibilities. If you return the tube by 6, you can get your deposit back (needless to say, a lot of people don’t manage to return theirs on time!).
What to Bring for this day of Tubing?
- T-shirt or tank top (the river can get cold at night)
- Dry bag for your money
- Waterproof camera
- Headache medicine to take before bed (trust me)
As you can imagine, some people get quite smashed during these 6 or so hours of binge drinking. I did my tubing experience in Laos with an awesome group of people which I met on the 30 hour beast of a bus ride from Vietnam. Tom on the other hand partied his way through Vang Vieng and went tubing twice when he was there! Although he has very little recollection of his time there, one thing was for sure-he had a blast!
Whatever you do, make sure that you party responsibly and that you have a group of people looking after you. Although it sounds like just one big party, to be fair, the experience itself is beautiful. As I was floating down the river as we headed back to our hostel, I remember so vividly looking behind me as I took in the scenery. The thick lush jungle, the towering mountains, and the beauty of the river. That to me is what made the tubing special.
Related Read: Taking Drugs While Traveling
Aside from the river tubing, there is nothing much going on in the town of Vang Vieng apart from seeing many hung over people lying in the many restaurants watching reruns of Friends. It was the perfect place to do absolutely nothing…and not feel guilty about it. Find a fun group of people, go river tubing, have the best time, and nurse your hangover with a BLT sandwich sold in almost every street cart in Vang Vieng. Remember, party responsibly, kids. Apart from getting smashed, spend a day and head to the Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng, Laos. It is absolutely lush and is a great way to spend recovering from the tubing madness!
(Editor’s Note: Nowadays, Vang Vieng is trying to reinvent itself as an adventure destination. Excursions to caves, kayaking trips, and other fun activities are now being heavily promoted)
Overall Experience of Tubing in Vang Vieng
I personally had a blast during my time in Vang Vieng, even if I’m not a big party person (anymore). Hangovers are real and they get worse as you get older! Haha! I had a blast because of the company I was with and would definitely recommend going here with a big group rather than just yourself. If you are by yourself, rock up in a hostel and find a fun group to go with! So if you’re looking for a fun getaway while in Asia, chilling out for a couple of days in Vang Vieng isn’t such a bad idea.