Vang Vieng – Happy Tubing

Filed in Laos, Travel by on January 26, 2010 0 Comments

Tubing in Vang Vieng is almost a rite of passage for backpackers traveling through South East Asia. So when we heard about the concept of floating down the river lined with bar whilst sitting in truck inner tubes, well, we had to check it out.

Vang Vieng is a small out of the way town accessible by bus over some very rough roads approximately 4 hours from the nations capital, Vientiane.

A sunset view at Vang Vieng A lazy, sunny day tubing in Vang Vieng

When we get there, we’re not too surprised to find that the ‘town’ comprises mainly of one long dirt stretch along which are numerous cafes with cushion seating, roughly 2 bars and some hostels. What did strike us though, was that the strip was near deserted. This was answered the next day when we hired some inner tubes and made our way down to the river to find it dominated by backpackers from all over the world carrying out one, some or all of the following;

– Floating down the river in an inner tube with a beverage in hand
– Being thrown out ropes from the wooden platforms of bars lining the river by staff hoping to ‘rope in’ customers
– Jumping back into the running river from the wooden platforms, or any of the higher options such as flying foxes, concrete slides and 3 storey high jumping platforms. This mostly ended well, but the odd person did come up with a gash (Approximately 10 people a year die every year, with 2 Australians dying in the last year)
– Drinking from buckets of mixed drinks at the riverside bars…who also often offer free whisky shots (from experience, we put logic to the test and asked, well, if you’re handing out free shots….can we have the whole bottle? …And it worked :D)

After the days shenanigans by the river, most people chose to relax at one of the many cafes who primarily served the same foods (and any option on the menu comes with a ‘happy’ option) but were only differentiated by whether they played non-stop repeats of either Friends or Family Guy.

Although not in the slightest way a cultural experience, tubing in Vang Vieng is something that has to be experienced; unfortunately, due to the high rate of deaths, the government has finally bowed to pressure.

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