A small, sleepy town in Northern Laos, Vang Vieng is nestled in the karst mountains in between Vientiane (the capital of Laos) and Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous among tourists visiting Laos.
To get there, you must endure a 4-6 hour bus ride, depending on where you’re coming from. This is one of the reasons why not a lot of people visit this beautiful town.
Vang Vieng came to my attention when I was researching about hot air balloons in Bagan (Myanmar). At $350 to $400+, it was so expensive that I got put off by the price. Balloons Over Vang Vieng offered a much cheaper alternative. The karst mountain backdrop was quite breathtaking too. That convinced me to visit this part of Laos.
My opportunity to visit Vang Vieng came when my cousins and I went for an 11-day trip across Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. I told them the hot air balloon ride is on my bucket list so we included it in our itinerary. It was actually the highlight of our experience in Vang Vieng.
Stay longer if you can…
Vang Vieng is a place where I wished I could’ve stayed longer. But we were on a tight schedule and so I had to make do.
It’s still possible to enjoy Vang Vieng even with limited time.. And this recap of our trip will show you how.
Arrival in Vang Vieng
We arrived in Vang Vieng from Vientiane at around 2pm. Our hotel was just about 5-minute walk from where we were dropped off by the van. This is one of the advantages of booking shared van transfers instead of the bus. The bus terminal is up north, well way out of the town center.
After we checked in, we set out to find food and book the sunrise hot air balloon ride for next day.
The looming karst mountains followed us everywhere we went in the small town center. We took this time just chill and enjoy the view.
At sunset, there were a couple of hot air balloons passing by. I wanted to get a drone footage of the sunset, but by the time I got everything set up, it was nearly dark (yep, newbie drone pilot here 😀 )
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
You get a choice of sunrise or sunset tour.
We opted for the sunrise tour. We were picked up at 5:40am, and were up in the air before 6:40am. The sun was just rising; it was beautiful.
You can read more about my experience ballooning over Vang Vieng here in this post >> How to ride a hot air balloon in Vang Vieng, Laos
We finished early. Before 8am, we were already back at the hotel. Time for another outdoor activity!
Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng
This was something completely spontaneous. We wanted to trek, but didn’t have enough time as most trekking areas are way out of town and would take at least a day. So we opted for a beginner rock climbing course, instead. It takes 3.5 hours, from 9:30am to 1pm. Just perfect for our itinerary!
Other activities in Vang Vieng
There are plenty of other things to do in Vang Vieng, if you’re planning on staying more than just a day.
I’m currently working on a blog post about it. Once published, I’ll link it from here. Stay tuned!
Leaving Vang Vieng
I was torn between getting the afternoon bus or the night bus. But I’ve seen people saying you won’t be able to sleep on the night bus because of the winding road, and the possibility of more accidents with night buses. In the end, I decided to just leave at 3pm so it won’t be too late when we arrive in Luang Prabang.
Is 24 hours enough?
Vang Vieng is such a lovely place I would love to go back to one day. For now, I’ll just hold in my heart the fond memories I have of this place. After all, it’s where had my two ‘first time experiences’: (1) my first time to ride a hot air balloon, and (2) my first time to go rock climbing.
How about you? Are you planning on visiting Vang Vieng?
I try and encourage more people to visit Laos, in general, as I believe it is such an underrated destination.
I hope this post inspired you to visit this little town in Laos which is a great hub for lots of outdoor activities. 🙂
Photo Credits: All photos in this post are copyright of Mish Abalos. Used with permission.