A Majestic Destination - Vang Vieng, Laos
Updated: Sep 19, 2021
A hot air balloon ride, off-roading on a scooter, teal water swimming holes, loud music and dancing make up this adventure. There is even more to be said about this great spot in SE Asia.
Vang Vieng used to be an epic party spot, look it up. So much that the military came in and shut the whole thing down. Unfortunately some travelers lost their lives during the crazy partying. If you have not traveled SE Asia, you might think to yourself, “how could this happen?” Well, people are pretty much left to their own devices in this region of the world, which is usually fine. Being an American and having everything off limits because everyone is scared shitless to get sued, it is a breath of fresh air. But just like anything else, some people might take it too far or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So for better or worse, Vang Vieng has chilled out a bit. Scooters and Noodles does chill well.
There is some great natural relief from the heat in this small town. Venture out to the swimming holes that are called “Blue Lagoons” ( that movie would have been so much better in Laos) and consist of teal water that flows naturally from one pool to another. Locals and travelers hung out side by side enjoying swimming and random jumping platforms. Nestled in different areas are cool bamboo lounge areas. There are a few lagoons scattered around the outskirts of Vang Vieng. Each one offers its own vibe and reason for a mid day visit. It is a nice ride to each and once you get there they are usually snuggly positioned at the base of a Karst which makes the experience that much better. There is an entrance fee for each costing around a few U.S. dollars. Check the map at the bottom of this post for a guide to get to all of the lagoons.
We did one of the most expensive activities of all of our journeys in Vang Vieng, and it was sooooo worth it. A hot air balloon ride over the town. WOW, on so many levels. Wow because you are literally flying with the birds and the only thing keeping you in the air is a thatched oversized basket, a flame thrower and an oversized cloth balloon. Wow, because you are looking at the tops, sometimes over the tops, of the amazing Karsts and clouds that surround them. Wow because the town looks like a bunch of ants and micromachines. And wow because the person next to you might stink badly and there is nowhere you can go and nothing you can do but endure it. Regardless, this is an absolute must when you are in Vang Vieng. I believe it was around $60 a person.
Have you seen Avatar? Well the landscape in Vang Vieng is exactly the same, except it isn't floating. But, it is still just as majestic. I have never seen karsts as big as they are in Vang Vieng, and they are the backdrop of this town. Naturally we had to explore, and explore we did. You can rent a scooter and head out into the country. It is magnificent. No tour guide, no group tour, just you, the bike and the road that leads to wherever. You can jump off and wonder into caves, walk into rice paddies and hang out under ever stretching trees. We were there during the wet season soooooo, it was wet…..and muddy. Which makes for some fun and sketch dirt biking. (pro tip - do not get a basic scooter like a Honda Click. You want AT LEAST a Honda Zoomer. Fat tires and low turning radius. You can really have fun with a proper dirt bike, but a Zoomer worked great for us).
We had our first major spill in Vang Vieng. Our only other one was in Pai, when it was also muddy and wet but that was in slow-mo. I take full credit for our wipe out in Vang Vieng. We drove through many puddles that day, in between spells of rain. I had just got done explaining my strategy to Kate about how to properly drive through puddles of mud without eating shit. Here goes another sketchy looking puddle which we had no idea on its depth. There is a small stretch of dirt on either side. I eye the right side which is centered between the ominous puddle and a barbed wire fence.
I go for it, and soon realize that stretch of dirt was in fact mudd, and a lot of it. As I got the front tire through I realized we are skidding and I have ZERO control of the bike. FUUUUUCK. We go down at about 35 kph (which is about 25mph for all you Americans) and slide across the dirt road. This sounds kind of fast, but if you go too slow through the mud you will get nowhere quite literally, because you will get stuck. Yep, we were wearing helmets. Unfortunately Kate took the brunt of our fall, as her tiny wrist and arm were holding on to me. I jump up and go over to her. She is doing an AMAZING job of maintaining her composure and assuring me that is not my fault. She can’t move her wrist though. What the fuck did I do. It was the end of an amazing day and we almost made it through without incident. AND, it started dumping rain. We get back on the bike and cruise back to town, only to have to take shelter in a random garage because the rain was coming down so hard. Her wrist ended up being fine after a few weeks. Shes a fucking force and I love exploring with her. Luckily we would be in the hospital capital of SE Asia (Bangkok) in a couple of days for her birthday. And we know how much Kate likes hospitals in Bangkok.
We got to jump off the bike for an impromptu photo shoot in a rice field straight out of National Geographic. Just us, no one else except some local passer byers who waved at us. Did I mention the carsts before, because up close they are simply breathtaking, similar to the grand canyon. We got food at random shacks along the way and stopped for cows that seemed to be wandering nowhere across the dirt road that served as our compass. It was an amazing day.
At night I had the pleasure of DJing at Vang Vieng’s largest traveler hangout spot, Sakura Bar. Now this is a proper bar because it does a great job of having characteristics of a club with the casual vibe of a bar. Pumping sound system, cool lights, great staff and very fun international crowd. Latiean, Korean, Chinese, European and many others all partying side by side. Their resident DJ treated Kate and I to non stop buckets, which I had to pump the breaks on mid way through my set. Playing tracks like Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk, Dj Fresh - Gold Dust (Shy FX Remix), and Fisher - Losing It, had the crowd going bananas. It was a non-stop blast.
After we rocked the roof off of that place we went to “Jungle Party”, the after hours party where I played a harder bass line set. This spot was a proper after hours outdoor festival type party. They had cool art installations, a random set of bleachers, cool trippy lights scattered about, a nice DJ booth with room for a dance party and a massive bar to keep everyone happy. Similar to Police Beach in Koh Rong, Cambodia. I dropped some heavy bassline tracks like Volac - Like Dis to get everyone jamming and even had the honor of having a whistleblower help keep the beat. Though it rained on off, the party goers were not slowing down for a bit. Everyone was having a blast and we didn’t head back till after 3am. Pheeeew, that was one for the books!
This was just a small part of our Vang Vieng trip. We want to tell you more so we will be writing another piece covering this amazing place. It was a pleasure, Scooters and Noodles out! ✌🏼🛵💚🍜