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Vang vieng. Do I bother?

  • kirstenc

    Joined Travelfish
    9th September, 2009
    Posts: 6

    I'm heading over to Laos in October with my husband and two kids aged 10 & 12. We want to see the scenery around VV But we are appalled by the loutish and offensive durnken behaviour of the backpackers in VV.
    Can we get away from all that in VV or should we push on to Luang Prabang?

    #1 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 15:22

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  • somtam2000

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    It's a bit of a hard call -- personally I'm not a great wrap on Vang Vieng, but for kids there's a lot to do and it can be fun -- tubing on the river, the caves, cycling the countryside ...

    I'd be inclined to give it a night and see what you think. Perhaps try one of the places on the outskirts of town like Les Jardins de Vang Vieng.

    Hope that helps!

    #2 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 15:45

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    I agree with somtam here. Perhaps it's not as wild as you think. It could be that the "offensive behavior" is limited to some specific locations. But if "loutish and drunken behavior" are offensive to you, then maybe you should avoid going places where people are "loutish and drunken".

    This is sort of like a Muslim going to a ***** bar, and then being offended that the girls are not wearing proper clothing.

    Personally, the only reason I am thinking of going to Laos (besides to visit my cousin) is to go to VV to be "loutish and drunken" and hit the water.

    #3 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 16:34

  • BruceMoon

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    kirstenc

    I'm not a fan of VV as a young adult's destination, mainly because these travellers are merely going OS to party in someone else's backyard rather than culturally engage with the locals.

    That said, I suggest you DO go to VV.

    First, as you point out, the scenery is worth the effort.

    Second, the kids will talk about the tubing/etc/, for years (and you never know, you may enjoy the fun too).

    Third, as somtam points out, you can lodge yourself away from the maddening crowd.

    Fourth - and to me this is the most important, you can use the fact of 'irresponsible' behaviour by some as a parental educational 'tool'. As a parent myself, parental teaching is not only do this do that, but also exchanging ideas/values/etc. Being in VV and seeing westerners pay little or no respect to local culture would be a great exemplar.

    Cheers

    #4 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 17:22

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    It is difficult to avoid the drunken chavs in Vang Vieng, but it can be done. Stay at the Vansana Hotel or the Thavisouk resort and eat there. Generally the food in VV is rubbish fast food like hamburgers. I do not know of one good restaurant in town. The karst landscapes are beautiful. As soon as you wander into town, however, you will see behaviour that is inappropriate in Laos and an insult to Laos culture. Most of the Lao don't like it either.

    Tubing, ie floating down the river is not a pleasant experience and one I would avoid. There are bars playing loud techno music at regular intervals. Another thing to consider that some posters don't mention, is that in October the river will still be up and tubing will be dangerous.

    Is it worth it? Well up to you. One day perhaps to see the caves and view the landscape. The other thing you need to consider is how are you getting there? There is a bus from Vientiane , and then from VV to Luang Prabang. The road from VV is very windy and many people get carsick. Personally I would fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang.

    #5 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 17:46

  • daflj

    Joined Travelfish
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    My partner and I were also concerned about VV, but we stayed there for 3 nights and wished we'd had longer. We stayed on the outskirts at Elephant Crossing, in a room that had stunning views, and we couldn't hear any disturbance from the town.

    I also really enjoyed the tubing. The techno bars are noisy but we didn't stop at any and the scenery more than made up for it. In fact there were stretches of the river where there were no bars, and it was actually peaceful.

    There are easy walks to some of the closer caves and the landscape generally is fabulous.

    I agree with Rufus, above, that the road from VV to Luang Prabang is very twisty but the minivan journey between the two was another highlight for us. Jaw-dropping scenery.

    Have to agree that the food in VV is a bit ho-hum though.

    #6 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 18:42

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    What?

    kirstec you say you were appalled? When? Have you ever been there or only read over the top posts from people with an axe to grind such as some some of the posts on this board?

    Forget the stereotypes. Mostly it's a case of youth envy. As said up top there's a lot of tubing, bike riding, and other activities that young people or those young at heart like to do.

    Most people don't like to eat Lao food. But if you did there are many places to get it in Vang Vien. The Vieng Champa that sits at the crossroads of the two most prominent streets has been in town forever. Laos tourists are it's number one patron followed by the Thai, but all menues are also in English. Slightly further down the main street are three feu and Kao piak restaurants in a row across from the Babylon Guest House. You can't miss them in the morning because they are full of Asians eating breakfast.

    Two blocks further down the street from the intersection there are street stall selling all the regular Lao foods. There are usually a few open all day but in the early evening there are many, and they are very busy. There are only two possiblities for someone who can't find Lao food in Vang Vien, either they don't really like Lao food, or they've never been to Vang Vien.

    Vang Vien is a tourist town. It's full of tourists. Kind of like Luang Prabang without the temples and old houses. As a matter of fact if you go to Luang Prabang first and then Vang Vien 3 days later you will see many of the same people as most start up north and work their way south.

    Vang Vien isn't my kind of town, I don't party and I go to sleep early, but I've been going there for almost 15 years, I have relatives just south of of town. The town has been in constant change ever since the mid 90s and it's still in flux. Of late I see many more families, retirees, and tour groups.

    I always get a room in the center of town so that I don't have to walk far to get a meal, buy a coffee, or anything else. I've never had a problem with noise or boisterous activity but then I don't stay right next to a bar. Best value rooms in Laos. Clean, quiet, off street, with en suite for under $10.

    You want beautifull untouched traditional Lao towns I've got a long list, but for tourist towns Vang Vien is certainly not much different than the other two, and in many ways more fun.


    At the caves in 01:

    Do watch the water level in October, life jackets and check carefully with someone about safety.

    #7 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 19:37

  • idreamofdur-
    ian

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    The countryside around VV is really lovely and the kids would probably love the tubing and biking. If you get a place outside of town and return there before it gets too late you should be able to avoid the worst of the high/drunk backpacker scene.

    The road between Vientiane and Luang Prabang is long and winding.... breaking it up, even if it means spending 1 night in VV, is probably worthwhile. I wouldn't dream of doing all in one stretch (especially with kids).

    #8 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 22:05

  • dclayw

    Joined Travelfish
    20th October, 2008
    Posts: 22

    @kirstenc,
    Read this travelblog from a family with 4 young children. It might help you make up your mind about whether or not to visit VV (I think you'll want to go now!). Make sure you read the entries before and after in the blog entry below as there are more great photos and other info on the other pages.

    http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Laos/West/Vang-Vieng/blog-386926.html

    I also corresponded with the author of that blog and they enjoyed VV so much they are going back later this year.

    #9 Posted: 10/9/2009 - 12:12

  • BruceMoon

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    dclayw/kirstenc

    Hey, that's a great read - it reinforces my point above (at #4).

    As a parent with 4 kids (all grown up now), I remember being edgy about some of the activities the kids wanted to do. Moree often than not, when I 'relented', I had a ball.

    Maybe kirstenc will have a ball too.

    Cheers

    #10 Posted: 10/9/2009 - 12:19

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  • dclayw

    Joined Travelfish
    20th October, 2008
    Posts: 22

    Yeah, a great read indeed. Our 2 are now 15&17 and I was tossing up whether to bother with VV, but I'm pretty sure they will enjoy the place after reading that blog. The scenery sounds too good to miss anyway so we have decided to visit VV. Only downside is that road trip between VV and LP.

    #11 Posted: 10/9/2009 - 12:35

  • BruceMoon

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    dclay

    Others have indicated that with 4, the price of a 'public' bus would be about the same as a 'private' bus (ie, hire your own minivan).

    That way, you can get the driver to go slow, stop where you like for piccies, etc. and generally be (sort of) in charge of your own journey.

    Cheers

    #12 Posted: 10/9/2009 - 12:50

  • dclayw

    Joined Travelfish
    20th October, 2008
    Posts: 22

    That's what we have decided to do, hopefully meet up with another similar group and hire a mini-van between VV and LP. I was asking about this in another thread and with 8 or so people it seems it will be about the same cost as on the VIP bus, much more flexible though.

    #13 Posted: 10/9/2009 - 12:57

  • somtam2000

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    If spliced off this thread to a new one.

    If you're looking to help the OP, please post here, but if you're in the discussion about the cultural value/party animals/daytona beach etc discussion, please take it over to Culture and Politics here.

    #14 Posted: 11/9/2009 - 07:16

  • kirstenc

    Joined Travelfish
    9th September, 2009
    Posts: 6

    Thanks,
    On balance we've decided the scenery is too good to miss but we'll be staying out of town. Good point on hiring a minbus,Bruce Moon I have a son who routinely gets car sick.
    Cheers

    #15 Posted: 11/9/2009 - 07:17

  • Geezy

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2009
    Posts: 48

    A couple of people have maentioned the trip from VV to Luang Prabang as being windey and long. How long is the actual car journey from VV to Luang Prabang? And how windey is it?

    #16 Posted: 15/9/2009 - 17:26

  • daflj

    Joined Travelfish
    28th August, 2008
    Posts: 32
    Total reviews: 4

    If I remember correctly the journey in a minivan took us about five hours. And it is extremely windey!!

    #17 Posted: 15/9/2009 - 18:01

  • daflj

    Joined Travelfish
    28th August, 2008
    Posts: 32
    Total reviews: 4

    If I remember correctly the journey in a minivan took us about five hours. And it is extremely windey!!

    #18 Posted: 15/9/2009 - 18:05

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