Posted on 07/17/12

Tubing in Laos: Experience the Absurdity

You’ve heard from a friend of a friend about an absurd out of this world party on a river somewhere in the middle of remote Southeast Asia.

Where the river looks like a mix of a elementary school playground and spring break

Where back-flips off zip-lines are the norm…

And where Lao Lao Whiskey is cheaper than water…

What on earth is this party?!

bar 2 vang vieng

It’s definitely not a myth. Your buddies are obviously referring to the Tubing in Laos, quite simply the wildest party of your life!

Thousands descend upon the small Laos town of Vang Vieng to experience the outrageousness for themselves. There really isn’t anything like it on the planet.

So what are you waiting for already! Go there! will provide you with everything you need to know to turn the dream into actual absurdity.

Posted on 09/4/12

Should I Rent a Tube?

Many find themselves asking the same question when they arrive in Vang Vieng. It seems logical to rent a tube in order to go tubing, but in reality, its not that simple. A tube costs 55,000 kip to rent as well as a 60,000 deposit. This is to insure you return the tube before the 6pm deadline. With that in mind, the answer to your question really depends on what your plans are for the day.

How much of this do you plan on doing?

If your plan is to party first and see where the day takes you, its likely you’ll end up using your tube very little and eventually bringing it back late or not at all, wasting money that could be put to better use. This is because the bars are relatively close together and all line one small portion of the river. On top of this, a bridge spans the river allowing you to visit bar after bar without even getting in the water. I’ve seen many enthusiastic tubers jump in their tubes and begin to float, only to climb right back out 10 seconds later. Their tube sits outside the bar for hours and is basically forgotten until the day and its time to return to Vang Vieng. Nine times out of ten, its past the return time and the deposit has already been forfeited.

If, however, you would like to float along and enjoy the scenery on the river, a tube is obviously for you. This is not to say you can’t still spend time at the bars, have a few drinks and ride the zipline or slide. It just means that you don’t plan on lingering at the bars all day and are planning on seeing the rest of the river.

Many people who have multiple days in Vang Vieng mix a few days of both. They party a few days and then float the length of the river another when they need a day to relax and need a break from the madness.

Posted on 07/23/12

The Blue Lagoon: A Day Off from Tubing in Vang Vieng

Yes, being “in the tubing” is awesome, but it can also be exhausting. After a string of tubing days in a row, your body may need a rest. A little time for recovery before getting back on the river. Some are champions and go days or weeks on end. They are superhuman. But if that isn’t you, than we have just the spot to spend a day off, the beautiful blue waters of the Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon of Vang Vieng is always a favorite of visitors to Laos and really the entire region itself. Once there, it becomes quite obvious why this is the case. A small bridge takes you across the lagoon and its impossibly blue waters. Look closely and fish are visible busily avoiding their mammal visitors. A number of rope swings provide patrons of the lagoon an opportunity to toss themselves in. Those looking for a bigger thrill can climb to the uppermost branches of the tree hanging over the water and jump in from a higher distance.

blue lagoon in vang vieng laos

Once you’ve cooled off, get a drink or a snack at the snack bar, grab your towel and head over to the lawn. A wide open space bordered by small covered platforms free for anyone to use. The lawn itself is probably already covered in sunbathers reading away or a few guys kicking a soccer ball around. Join the fun and make some new friends or just find a place to relax and recover. You have a big day tomorrow back on the river. If you time your departure right, you may catch the bright orange Vang Vieng sunset over its surrounding limestone cliffs, A spectacle in itself.

How to Get to the Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng

Just a few kilometers outside of Vang Vieng, you’ll have the option of renting a bikes and riding them over or just grabbing a tuk tuk and keeping it simple. If you do decide to get a little exercise and ride bikes over, look for one of the many rentals shops lining the streets of Vang Vieng. Mountain bikes are preferred, but not absolutely necessary. The predominantly dirt route is mostly flat with some bumps along the way. A normal cruiser will make the trip fine as long as its chain can manage to stay on.

Once you have your bikes ask the attendant for a map and directions, which he should be happy to provide. The main bridge to cross the river charges a one time fee, but there is also another, though much narrower bridge upriver that is free of charge. Once across the river, head straight down the main road, making no turns off. Careful for misleading signs along the way. There is a fake “blue lagoon” that charges the same price which isn’t nearly as nice. It should be fairly obvious that you’re in the wrong place as the real blue lagoon should be teaming with tuk tuk parked and waiting to take guest back to town. Also, the lagoon itself should be visible from the payment kiosk, so don’t pay unless you can see the lagoon.

Posted on 07/13/12

Invaluable Laos Tubing Tips

Here they are. All the things you need to know from someone who has been there before. Follow these tips and you’re sure to have an awesome day or two or seven in Vang Vieng.

Zipline in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng zipline


Lather up! Tubing starts early and goes until the sun goes down. This also saves you from waking with a burnt stencil spray paint of “I Heart Vang Vieng” on your body.

Eat Before

Like I said, tubing goes most of the day and food options at the river are scarce, so fill up street cart burgers with a side of banana before grabbing an inflated tire. Also, it doesn’t hurt NOT to drink on an empty stomach although doing so could “enhance” the experience. Filling up beforehand may help with your endurance. Just a thought

Don’t Bring Valuables

Let’s be honest here. You’re going to be drinking, a lot, so leave the iPhone and anything else you want to survive back in the safety of your room. You’re going to be dancing, swimming and jumping in and out of the river so drunk texting is even more unnecessary than normal. And if you don’t have it, you can’t possibly brake it or, more likely, drown it. Speaking of which…

Get a Dry Bag

You’re going to need money for a mojito and a plethora of buckets and you just might want to document some of the nonsense going on around you i.e. your buddy’s rendition of “Call Me Maybe”, so a dry bag makes perfect sense. You won’t have to pay with dripping money, though they probably wouldn’t turn you down, and you can flip through videos and pictures with friends and reminisce after the fact like the Hangover.

Go Barefoot or Bring Cheap Flip Flops

Losing your sandals is… highly likely. You realize they’re no fun to walk in the river with and that they are cramping your dance moves, so you take them off and place them safely to the side… never to be seen again. If you must bring some, think about grabbing some cheap ones that are sold on every corner. That way, you won’t be upset when your precious rainbows are nowhere to be seen.

Don’t Wear Your Favorite Boardshorts

You will be get a stenciled spray paint “I heart Vang Vieng” on yourself and you will like it. The cans of paint are everywhere so just plan ahead accordingly.

The Actual Tube is Sometimes Optional

I know what you are thinking. How can you tube without a tube? The bars line a short stretch of the river and you can float from one to the next, swim across (Only if you’re a competent swimmer. Seriously, don’t be an idiot), or simply just use the bridge. Just don’t swim under any zip-line or rope swing. Stay aware and use common sense. A more thorough answer to this question found here

Zipline in Laos

Courtesy of Flickr User tommytastic

Check Before you Jump

As fun as tubing is, it can also be dangerous. Jumping in the river is a highlight of tubing, but make sure you a) know where any rocks are… beforehand b) check for scribbled warning signs or c) listen to the guy handing you the zip-line. Now doesn’t that make a whole lot of sense?

Pace Yourself

Thousands go through Vang Vieng and rave about it for weeks and months on end. You want to be one of those too. Have fun but don’t go over the top. By now, you should know your limits when it comes to alcohol, unless you’re a 15 year old girl. In that case, have a friend keep an eye on you. Disclaimer: We do now endorse 15 year old girls drinking copious amounts of alcohol

Posted on 07/12/12

Tubing History: 101

How’d It Start?

It’s all started way back in 1999. Vang Vieng was still a small farming village located along the Nam Song River, but it’s stunning natural surroundings had made it a stopping point on the Banana Pancake Backpacker Trail in Southeast Asia. A local organic farmer was looking for an enjoyable activity for his volunteers to participate in on their spare time. Floating peacefully down the river in an inflated inner tube seemed like the perfect idea. Little did he know what had just started. Pretty soon, every guesthouse and tour operator in town was renting out tubes as a way to enjoy the Laos sunshine and take in Vang Vieng’s natural beauty.

Vang Vieng Sunset Limestone Cliffs

The Tubing We Know Today

Mixing in a few shots of Lao Lao, the local whiskey, always helped in the fun and soon enough, bars began popping up along the river providing places to stop and “refuel”. The bars and dance floors grew in size as more travelers arrived. Next came zip-lines, rope swings, giant slides and mud volleyball courts creating the ultimate “Water Fun Park.” The rest is history. Over 170,000 backpackers now stop off in Vang Vieng each year to float down the river and participate in the “craziest party of their life.” Vang Vieng was forever changed into the ultimate backpacker paradise. Now isn’t that a pleasant story?

Community Co-op

The town of Vang Vieng has created a cooperative business within the local community. All households take turns working the inner tube rental and split the proceeds accordingly. This insures that revenues from Tubing stay within the community.

Posted on 07/10/12

Gear Up for Tubing in the Vang Vieng

Not much is needed for a trip tubing down the Vang Vieng besides a bathing suit and desire to party. Regardless, here are a few suggestions that you may want to consider.

Waterproof Dry Bag

If you’re looking to carry more than just money, a camera in order to blackmail your friends perhaps, try one of the dry bags. They come in any size so you can tailor your purchase to your very special needs. I wouldn’t trust the ones that they sell in Vang Vieng as a few friends had some which ended up breaking. The real deal should keep your stuff from getting soaked.

Dry Pak Wallet

Keep your money safe and dry while you tube with a waterproof wallet or something like it. Small enough to fit in a pocket or you can just sling it around your neck. All the cool kids are doing it. Once again, try to fake ones at your own risk.

Tubing Tank Top

Not sold anywhere else but Vang Vieng, not even on the web, a tubing tank is proof that you experienced the absurdity of Tubing. They come in every imaginable color combination, but, oddly enough, they can still always be spotted no matter which corner of Southeast Asia one finds himself wandering through.

Posted on 07/9/12

How to Get to Vang Vieng Laos

Alright, you’ve made your mind up and have chosen to witness the absurdness firsthand. How do you get there? It’s not easy, and the journey will be long, but the debauchery that awaits will be more than worth it.

Get to Laos

southeast asia laos map
Laos is located smack in the center of Southeast Asia, landlocked by Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar. Most travel to Laos as part of a larger trip through the region and use an airport outside of the country for their connecting long haul flights. Bangkok (BKK) is the most convenient, but its also possible to fly into Hanoi (HAN) or Saigon (SGN) or others.

Once you’re in the region you need to set your course for Vang Vieng, Laos. There area number of choices depending on your time frame and budget.

Fly to Luang Prabang or Vientiene

By far the easiest and most comfortable option, short flights from any of the surrounding countries will save you a ton of time on buses, trains or boats and shouldn’t break your budget if you stick to Asia’s many budget airlines. I suggest checking Skyscanner since they include the budget airlines in their searches.

Coming from Bangkok, Thailand

Buses and trains connect Bangkok to Vientiane daily. Both options take around 11-12 hours so you’ve been forewarned. Buses leave from the Northern Bus terminal and trains can be booked online at

Coming from Chiang Mai, Thailand

From Thailand’s largest city in the north you’ll have a few options to choose from. It’s possible to book each leg on your own or to go through a travel agency or your guesthouse and save you the hassle. Buses go from Chiang Mai to the Laos border town of Huay Xai. From there you can bus your way through the winding mountains of Northern Laos, or, a far more common option, take a slowboat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Your choice.

Coming from Hanoi, Vietnam

If you’re coming overland from Hanoi, you have some long bus rides ahead of you. Direct buses can be booked in Hanoi to either Luang Prabang or Vientiene, but times will vary. People have reported anywhere from 24 to 30 hr trips so hunker down for the long haul.

Laos Visa

A Visa on Arrival can be obtained at the border or airport and should run somewhere around $30, depending on your nationality. For some reason, Laos took after South Park and hates Canadian (they pay more). Bring 2 passport sized photos and US Dollars in order to save some extra money.

Home Stretch to Vang Vieng

vang vieng map
From Luang Prabang or Vientiene, you’ll need to catch a bus or minibus the rest of the way. The road from Luang Prabang can take anywhere from 7 to 11 hours through winding mountain roads. Those susceptible to motion sickness should take caution. Vientiene, on the other hand, is a little closer with a estimated time of 3-4 1/2 hours and the road much more flat. Tickets can be bought at the bus stations, at any travel agency or through most guesthouses.