Vang Vieng in Laos is a town where you can literally stay for a week and not feeling bored. Water activities, hiking, climbings, biking, there are just so many things you can do here. So in this article, let’s talk about the things to do in Vang Vieng without breaking your budget.
Vang Vieng, a destination so popular among tourists, especially Korean tourists that you can almost call it little Seoul. Well, maybe Seoul in the 1900s, with all the otherworldly air pollution there due to the dust ‘typhoon’ soared up by car wheels and winds. But hold on, outside the small town lies dozens of hidden gems waiting for you backpackers to explore. And you’re probably not joining the tourists.
Let’s be honest, there are numerous tourist activities here in Vang Vieng, most of them require you to pay at some point. But rest assured, as promised, I’ll show you what you can do without spending your whole day without realizing you spent hundreds of thousands of Kips.
You got what I mean, right?
I take it as a ‘Yes’ then. Let’s dive in and see the list of best things to do in Vang Vieng without breaking your budget!
- 1 Enjoy The Best Viewpoint of Laos in Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint (Best Thing to do in Vang Vieng)
- 2 Hike Pha Poak Viewpoint and Enjoy Vang Vieng City View
- 3 Tubing Along Nam Song River
- 4 Rent a Motorcycle and Explore Around Vang Vieng
- 5 Splash The Water in Blue Lagoon 3
- 6 Soak Yourself Wet in Blue Lagoon 1
- 7 Admire The Panoramic View From Nam Xay Viewpoint
- 8 Venture Into Tham Phu Kham Cave
- 9 Enjoy Laos’ Hot Pot Dinner in Vang Vieng Night Market
- 10 Have Dinner in Riverside Restaurant
- 11 Have Fun in Tham Nam Water Cave
- 12 Go Kayaking In Nam Song River
- 13 Trek to Kaeng Nyui Waterfall
- 14 Visit Tham Chang Cave
- 15 Try Out Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng
- 16 Float Into The Sky With Hot Air Balloons
- 17 Go Adventure With Buggy Cars
Enjoy The Best Viewpoint of Laos in Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint (Best Thing to do in Vang Vieng)
This is the number one highlight of my entire stay in Vang Vieng, maybe even my entire Laos backpacking trip. We stumbled upon the entrance while we’re lost searching for the entrance for Nam Xay Viewpoint, which offers breathtaking views according to many travelers.
The entrance might not look so appealing at first (it wasn’t for me), but I’m sure it’s gonna ‘wow’ you when you reached the top. Let’s talk about what Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint has to offer.
You’ll notice a sign at the entrance saying the time taken to hike up is only 15 minutes, but trust me you’ll be needing more than that unless you’re an expert or a monkey. I took nearly 30 minutes to reach the top. The hike involved lots of steep climbing, ladder climbing, and crossing sharp-jagged limestones. Definitely wear covered shoes, never flip-flops, and wear stretchable pants and easier climbing.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be welcomed by a wooden hut built on top of limestone karst, several hundred meters above the paddy fields down there. You’ll get one of the best panoramic views in Laos on the limestone karst nearby with totally no obstacles.
Compared to Nam Xay Viewpoint, Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint was way more underrated, so you’re not that likely to share the view with other hikers.
I’ve heard that someone spent their night at Nam Xay Viewpoint for sunrise the next day but please don’t do that here, because the granny at the entrance will probably worry about you as the entrance closes at 5 pm. She doesn’t speak English at all.
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip per person
Check out this 3 days itinerary for Vang Vieng to plan your visit accordingly!
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Hike Pha Poak Viewpoint and Enjoy Vang Vieng City View
I’d say this is one of the most challenging short hikes in Laos. Located within walkable distance from Vang Vieng city, you can easily reach the entrance of Pha Poak Viewpoint on foot in 30 minutes.
Pha Poak Viewpoint offers a panoramic view, with city view over Vang Vieng on one side and massive limestone karsts on the other side. Highly recommended for those who arrived in Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang or Vientiane in noon or afternoon to fill their half-day.
Guess what, I have an article solely on Pha Poak Viewpoint so be sure to check it out.
On the way, you’ll cross a bamboo bridge and pass through several vast paddy fields. But from the city, you’ll be able to see the viewpoint with a red flag on the peak.
The hike is generally shorter than Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint but it’s more exhausting due to the steeper climb and lots of challenging stone climbing. No, you don’t need rock climbing gear at all. The time needed to hike up to the peak is around 15-20 minutes.
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip per person
Hey, if you’re visiting from Vientiane or Luang Prabang, then check out 12Go and book your bus ticket at the best fare!
Tubing Along Nam Song River
Yes, I know I said this article will be about budget traveling in Vang Vieng, but tubing does not need to be expensive. Sure, there are lots of tours out there offering a variety of tour services which include tubing, most of them costing up to 500,000 Kip per person or couple.
When I was staying with Faraway Suites in Vang Vieng, the tubing package caught my eyes with its 60,000 Kip per person. The package includes zip-lining, free whiskey bucket, and tuk-tuk back and forth your hostel.
We did a 1.5 hours tubing in Nam Song River before arriving in the last stop for zip-lining while enjoying the free whiskey.
For me, 60,000 Kip per person is cheap with that many activities.
To avoid the crowds, go in the early morning, as early as possible. According to the operators, tourists usually won’t do tubing in the morning because of the hot sun. They were right, we had all the Nam Song River to ourselves for the entire 2 hours.
Click on this article to learn more: Tubing in Vang Vieng Comprehensive Guide.
Rent a Motorcycle and Explore Around Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is best explored with a motorbike because there are just way too many attractions outside the city. In the afternoon, almost all the restaurants in Vang Vieng city are empty because everyone is out.
How much to rent one? Renting a motorbike costs you around 40,000 to 55,000 Kip from 7 am to 8 pm. Most of the motorbikes are pirated, like Honga, mind blown. But they work just fine, just remember to check the brakes. Helmets are provided at no cost, but you’ll have to pay for your petrol.
Google Maps and GPS are not reliable while motorbiking in Vang Vieng city outskirts because most of the roads are not charted. Be prepared to get lost at some point, and ask the locals for direction. Chances are, you’ll still be having a hard time looking for locals who speak English.
Destinations you should ride to are Blue Lagoons 1 & 3 and all the mentioned viewpoints.
Splash The Water in Blue Lagoon 3
It has been a long debate when it comes to choosing between Blue Lagoon 1 and Blue Lagoon 3. Here’s a short summary between the two:
Blue Lagoon 3 is around an hour ride from the city while Blue Lagoon takes only 15 minutes. There are more facilities and fewer crowds in Blue Lagoon 3, you’ll enjoy it more there, in my opinion. Blue Lagoon 1 is more touristy compared, because of its near location to the city. Chances are, you’ll struggle to find a swimming spot for yourself.
From the city to Blue Lagoon 3, the GPS way is quite reliable if you’re planning to ride there, though there are still some tweaks. Not many signboards until you got close.
Let’s talk about the facilities there, there are zip-lines which you can play for as many times as you want. The restaurant is very small and ‘local-style’, and there are bamboo rafts, kayaks, and tubes for you to enjoy.
Be reminded that the water can be cold sometimes. Visit in the early morning to avoid the tourist crowds, as they visit around 12 pm.
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip
Soak Yourself Wet in Blue Lagoon 1
If you’re not planning to venture out far from the city, Blue Lagoon 1 is better suited for you. It’s much more developed, with more facilities and restaurants. And you’ll get to jump from a huge tree branch and plunge into the water!
Safety jackets are much more expensive in Blue Lagoon 1 as it’s charged at the hourly basis, compared to the one-time charge in Blue Lagoon 3. The entrance fee is the same though.
On another side, there are swimming spots for those who just want to chill and soak into the cold water.
Anyway, both Blue Lagoons are great for spending time, and if you’re staying in Vang Vieng for several days, it’s totally doable to stay in either of them for half a day.
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip per person
I have an article here that compares Blue Lagoon 1 and Blue Lagoon 3 in detail. Check it out now!
Admire The Panoramic View From Nam Xay Viewpoint
Nam Xay Viewpoint has long been one of the must things to do in Vang Vieng. The panoramic view at the peak after all the exhausting hike is breathtakingly rewarding. Overlooking the limestone karsts around, and listening to the ‘moo’ sounds by the cows hundred meters below you altitude, it’s just crazy.
Even though the views in Nam Xay Viewpoint and Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint are almost the same, I will recommend the latter because it’s lesser-known compared to Nam Xay Viewpoint.
One great thing about both of the viewpoints is that there are almost no tourist groups there. Sometimes you’ll get all the view for yourself on the small hut on the peak.
I’ve read about a hiker who spent his night in the hut and waited for the sunrise the next day. Well, I couldn’t really blame him for that. But if you’re going to do that, please inform the people at the entrance, so they will not worry about you when they’re closing the entrance.
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip per person
Venture Into Tham Phu Kham Cave
Tham Phu Kham, or Phu Kham Cave is located just next to Blue Lagoon 1, which makes them often mentioned together in other sources.
The cave is pretty dark, so I recommend renting a headlamp at the entrance for only 10,000 Kip. Steep rock stairs lead the way to the entrance of the cave but be careful as the steps are kinda slippery.
You’ll find orange arrows or signs up there, which will lead the way back to the entrance so you need not worry about getting lost inside the cave. I wouldn’t recommend going in there alone as accidents might happen and nobody is there to help.
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip
Enjoy Laos’ Hot Pot Dinner in Vang Vieng Night Market
Also known as Vang Vieng Walking Street, the night market is slightly smaller than the one you find in Luang Prabang. Again, there are souvenirs, gifts, and street foods all over the street.
If you’re planning to do shopping, the price is almost the same as Luang Prabang, but you’ll find cheaper price tags in Vientiane.
What’s unique about this night market is that there are several hot pot stalls along the street. Most of the customers are foreigners though, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the hot pot dinner of Laotian people.
And the best thing is? It’s not expensive at all, you can settle for one meal at around 25,000 Kip.
A typical set comes with a clay pot of broth, lots of greens, meats slices of your choice (chicken, beef, or fish), an egg and glass noodles.
Have Dinner in Riverside Restaurant
It’s one of the most relaxing things to do in Vang Vieng. Having dinner in a riverside restaurant is a great way to put an end to your exhausting day.
The dining deck is built right above the Nam Song River coast, so you can soak your feet into the cold water while watching people kayaking around.
Visiting in the evening, you’ll also see hot air balloons rising from the city. Pretty chill, huh?
Oh ya, the BBQ Pork is a gem, definitely order a few sticks of them!
Have Fun in Tham Nam Water Cave
Ever tried tubing inside a cave? Well, you can do that in Tham Nam Water Cave!
Despite its location (15km north of Vang Vieng city), it’s one of the most fun things to do in Vang Vieng because of the unique attraction it offered. To enter the cave, you will be arranged a tube and you’ll have to pull yourself through the waters using the rope provided inside the cave.
Renting the tube and headlamp, which are both necessary to scale the cave, costs 15,000 Kip with no time limit.
If you’re visiting during the rainy season, remember to check whether the cave is open or closed. Rainy season leads to a higher water level in the cave than usual, and it might get closed anytime. The water flow rate is also much higher during the rainy season.
A much ideal time to visit is during the dry season when the water flow rate is more stable and water level lower.
Not recommended if you have claustrophobia. Note that there will be large groups of visitors there who took the tours.
Go Kayaking In Nam Song River
Some travelers actually prefer kayaking in Nam Song River compared to tubing. Same goes for me because there is more control over where you’re heading, instead of splashing the water, struggling to change your direction on the tubes.
As long as you’re doing activities involving Nam Song River, be sure you take the earliest tours because you’re more likely to have the river to yourself. Most visitors visit during mid-day.
Another reason is that most of the restaurants along the river are closed in the morning. No loud music!
The downside is kayaking is more expensive than tubing. It’s much more difficult to find a good deal.
Trek to Kaeng Nyui Waterfall
Kaeng Nyui Waterfall is sort of like a miniature version of the waterfalls in Bolaven Plateau, Pakse. The reason why it’s so underrated is the location.
Most of the attractions in Vang Vieng are located at the western side across the river. But Kaeng Nyui Waterfall decides that it’s too mainstream that way and decided to ‘stay’ east of the city.
The 30m-waterfall is located around 7km from the city. Motorbikes are the most preferred way but some people walked there too while enjoying the magnificent landscapes along the way.
You’ll get to do some hiking when you’re there, as the waterfalls are broken into several parts. The lower sections are great to take a dip after the exhausting ride or walk!
Entrance fee: 10,000 Kip per person
Love waterfalls? Check out this piece on the best waterfalls in Laos!
Visit Tham Chang Cave
Visiting Tham Chang Cave is one of the first things travelers do on their first day in Vang Vieng. Located 30 minutes walk away from the city center, Tham Chang Cave is easily accessible by foot or bicycle. It saves you a lot of money because nobody rents a motorcycle for a half day.
To cross the Orange Bridge, you’ll have to pay a toll fee of 10,000 Kip per person (only once). Orange Bridge is also one of the attractions in Vang Vieng, kinda like a super miniature version of Golden Gate Bridge.
The compound from Orange Bridge to Tham Chang Cave entrance is a well-maintained park, where you can find local stalls selling a variety of snacks. Great for spending time just chatting around with your friends on the bench.
To enter the cave, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of 15,000 Kip per person. Besides the entrance, there is a small pool where you can take a dip and swim. Some people called it Secret Lagoon but I had no idea why, it’s no secret at all.
A long staircase leads the way from the entrance to the cave. Inside the cave, you’ll find all sort of legends and structures. Go look for the elephant structure, the monk’s chair and the hole where ‘naga’ lives. There’s a stalactite which you can tap three times and make a wish.
Entrance fee to Tham Chang Cave: 15,000 Kip per person
Try Out Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng
Never tried rock climbing? Well, you can do that in Vang Vieng, climbing limestone hills!
I’ve never done rock climbing in Vang Vieng, so I believe this post here can give you more information that you need.
Float Into The Sky With Hot Air Balloons
Here comes the most expensive tourist activity in Vang Vieng. With all the massive limestone hills all around the city, there are no better places for hot air balloons ride in Laos other than Vang Vieng.
Most of the hot air balloons rides take place during the evening for amazing sunset views. What’s more picturesque than a sunset with sharp-peaked limestone hills as the backdrop?
While there are not many hot air balloons available, be sure to book a little earlier to secure a seat. The ride lasts around 30 minutes until the sun touches the horizon.
Tickets cost around US$90 per person.
Go Adventure With Buggy Cars
Buggy cars are the best options if you’re venturing out of the city but are sick of the bumpy dirt roads. Wherever motorcycles can ride to, buggy cars can reach there too. Lots of people drive buggy cars to places like Blue Lagoon 3 and Nam Xay Viewpoint.
There are numerous buggy car rental companies in Vang Vieng so you will never have trouble looking for one. Chances are, even your hostel manager offers the rental too.
But note that the rental price can be sky high, and is counted on an hourly basis. I’ve seen some buggy cars broke down while riding my motorbike. Check before you rent!
That’s It For The Adventurous Things To Do in Vang Vieng
Thanks for reading and I hope the content I provided will help you in your trip itinerary planning to Vang Vieng. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Vang Vieng as much as I did! Have a good day and happy traveling. Check out how to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng all by yourself! Also, if you’re planning to travel down south, here are 9 awesome things to do in 4000 Islands!
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