Infamous Vang Vieng Tubing in Laos

  • Awaking to the town of Vang Vieng
  • Organizing our tubes
  • Launching off on our tubing adventures
  • First Bar Party
  • Second Bar Party
  • Third Bar Party
  • Fourth Bar Party
  • Final Bar Party
  • Tubing down the Mekong in the darkness of night
  • Jaidee’s Bar

Awaking to the town of Vang Vieng

Had a good and well deserved sleep to re-energize before waking at about 10:30am and headed into the small town of Vang Vieng and found a small local café for some breakfast. The town of Vang Vieng seems centralized around one main road which is partly gravel and partly asphalt sidelined with cafes, shops, travel agents, bars and various other souvenir type shops.

On my way back to the guesthouse I bumped into the 2 pommy guys, Nick and John, who were on the same bus as I was that we took into Vang Vieng last night. We had a good chat and they said that they were meeting some French traveling friends at the tube hire shop at 1pm and they invited me along to come and hang out with them. I was finally coming out of my shell and getting more and more sociable with other backpackers, this was a good thing.

Organizing our tubes

I met Nick and John and their French friends, they were all nice and friendly and very welcoming towards me. We paid 100,000 kip for each inflatable rubber tube in which we would get 60,000 kip back if we returned the tubes before 6pm otherwise if we returned them after 6pm then we would only receive 40,000 kip back.

Launching off on our tubing adventures

We all piled into a tuk-tuk which transported us about 15 minutes out of the town to a little spot on the side of the Mekong River. We all strolled down to the riverside and I really didn’t understand the strength of the river currents it was quite impressive. We all gently pushed ourselves of from the riverbanks and were quickly swept away with the river currents. All I had with me was my flip-flops, board shorts and a dry bag with some money, keys and my camera and I was off floating down the river and only approximately 50 meters down stream was a really cool bar raging with loud music and covered with heaps of board short and bikini clad backpackers running a muck and getting pissed on lots of Beer Lao, dirty locally made whiskey shots and toxic pre-mix bucket drinks. It seriously reminded me of the Asian jungle version of the Real Cancun.

First Bar Party

There was a massive tree swing where we could climb a high ladder up to a big tree which was branched out over the river. Once we had a few drinks into us we decided we needed to try this giant tree swing out, we climbed up to the top platform where this little Laotian boy handed me the rope with a worn looking tree branch for a handle.

It was a lot higher looking down from the top than up from the bottom of the tree. I launched myself from the platform and let the slack on the rope tighten and enjoyed the incredible rush from flying around in the air attached to the end of the tree swing. After a period of time swinging around I let go of the handle and sent myself shooting into the air and into the middle of the Mekong River. Unfortunately I landed awkwardly and popped my shoulder out however it quickly fell back into place. I have had bad and weak shoulders for sometime so this wasn’t a major shock to me but it still did hurt a fair bit. The bar and the company was way too pumping for a bit of pain to get in the way of a good time so I headed straight for the bar for a tall bottle of Beer Lao.

Second Bar Party

After about an hour at the first bar we moved down stream only about another 50 odd meters to a bar with another large swing, more Beer Lao, dirty whiskey shots and a lot of us got into a huge big mud fight with some pommy girls who were plastered drunk. Pretty funny and crazy – I was really starting to feel drink at this point but I was having a ball.

Third Bar Party

We left that bar after about half an hour and floated about 300 meters down stream at quite a quick speed where there was a massive bar full of more people and even louder music which was going off. More dirty whiskey and also vodka shots free on arrival, they were getting us pretty smashed. We got some food and then played a massive game of volleyball with about 20 people a side and from various countries throughout the world. I was loving this and kept thinking to myself that this is how the whole world should be, joining together and leaving all their political, religious and self inhibitions behind and just enjoying and experiencing each others company for the human beings that they are. We stayed at that bar for about 2 ½ hours and were absolutely blind before we left, however we did manage to have a final go on the massive swing and we surprised everyone by loaded 3 people onto the one swing and launching off the massive tree platform, it was another massive rush.

Fourth Bar Party

We stopped at another small bar where we only stayed for about an hour and had a couple more beers.

Final Bar Party

After leaving this place we floated quickly down stream for about a kilometer which was awesome relaxed drunk fun until we reached a massive curve on the Mekong River whereby there was the king of all Mekong River bars nestled into the corner of the curve in the river right on the sight of one of the limestone cliffs jutting out from the water.

This bar was fucking madness as we arrived it was getting twilight and we immediately noticed a massive bon fire pumping and the bar was serving up opium teas (laced with opium), mushroom shakes (laced with magic mushrooms) and happy pizzas (laced with hashish). The perfect beverages for chilling out the overly drunk and hyperactive backpackers who had been on the piss all day.

There were people roaming around pretty twisted trying not to slip in the mud and slide on down the muddy banks between the bar and the Mekong River. It was a funny sight to say the least but everyone was chilled out and overly friendly so no harm done. We ended up staying at the bar sipping on some opium tea and playing some games of pool with the pommy guys and their French friends.

Tubing down the Mekong in the darkness of night

After 3-4 hours partying on at the final bar we decided in our infinite wisdom to grab our tubes and float down stream in the pitch-black darkness of night. There were about 6 of us who floated off together and formed a chain where we linked together so that we didn’t lose each other, however this chain didn’t last for long since much of our drunkenness took over and we started flipping each other off their tubes. We floated down the river for about 20-30 minutes and to be quite honest this was the most eerie thing I have ever done, all I could think about the movie “Anaconda” and some 40-foot gigantic snake sliding past my arms and legs as they dangled in the water. It was quite a freaky adventure and without being plied with so much alcohol and opium tea I may have decided to arranged some other way back to the village.

We saw a light in the distance after about half an hour of drifting down the Mekong so we decided to swim to the side of the river where we randomly found a tuk-tuk pretty much in the middle of nowhere in a very small local village. We persuaded the driver to take us all back to the middle of town that was about a 10 minute drive. It was a funny site seeing a group of wasted loud backpackers piled into this little tuk-tuk with a heap of inflatable tubes strapped to the roof of the tuk-tuk. It was late and we all singing drunken anthems on the ride back to town and it was looking as though we were not going to get out tube deposits back. Like we gave a shit

We arrived back to the tube hire shop, dropped our tubes off and scrammed in all directions when the poor tuk-tuk driver started asking for everyone’s fares. I did feel bad but he did get a fair bit of money upfront and his prices were way over inflated so I didn’t feel that bad. It was pretty irresponsible but what do you expect with a heap of drunk and high backpackers. I wandered on back to the Vang Vieng Orchid Guest House and passed out in bed for a while – I was absolutely knackered.

Jaidee’s Bar

After a bit of a 1 hour power nap I came to had a shower and hit a local bar called Jaidee’s Bar where I met up with a Canadian couple and another English fellow who I had met during the days adventures out on the tubing trail. The Canadian couple was so stoned on hash and opium and they didn’t last long so they took off pretty quickly. Jaidee’s Bar was like no other bar I had ever been to, everyone was high on some sort of barbiturate – it was like a hippy opium den where everyone was just chilled out laying around on low-line lounges sipping on some drug laced drinks and smoking on shish a pipes, it was a sight to be seen, something I have certainly never seen before back home in Australia.

The English fellow I met who’s name was Khrishan who was actually of Sri Lankan decent decide to have a burger for dinner with me and a few beers. We then left Jaidee’s and went to check out a few other bars around town. The other bars were pretty shit and we ended up back at Jaidee’s, which was finishing up a bit after 12pm. I decided to retire back to the guesthouse to get some sleep but not before I picked up a banana, choc, and coconut crepe from a side street portable vendor – so bloody good.

Oh how I love Vang Vieng – hands down the best part of my backpacking adventure to date.

Josh Boorman


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Joshua Boorman

Joshua Boorman

Founder & Editor in Chief at Backpacking Addictz
Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.
Joshua Boorman
About The Author

Joshua Boorman

Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.


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    April 27, 2010

    wonderful share, great article, very usefull for me…thanks

  • Michael Anthony

    May 13, 2010

    Wow !!! Sounds like a very wild adventure there Josh ! Would love to try swinging on the ropes , fun !!! And the Dirty Whiskey…need to try that ! Does sound like it was alot of Fun !! Vang Vieng very cool place ! enjoyed the post !!!

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