Now that Vang Vieng is attracting a different sort of traveller (the kind that aren’t interested in tubing), kayaking has exploded in popularity and trips down the river, ranging from an hour to a full day, are offered by several tour companies in town. Whatever vessel you choose, a trip on the river is a must while in Vang Vieng.
A popular full day trip usually includes the Water Cave 14 kilometres north of town, lunch and a paddle down. It’s a great day out that combines a few of Vang Vieng’s highlights without having to charter a tuk tuk yourself, but know that it will be you and dozens of others bumping tubes in the Water Cave, with screams of delight bouncing off the walls. A cool off-the-beaten track experience this is not.
Competition is fierce and tour prices have hit rock bottom, and that means cutting corners to save money, which translates to an enormous group, only a few guides, cheap lunch and weathered equipment. In general, you get what you pay for and it is difficult to recommend one company over the other.
We did receive a recommendation of Wonderful Tours, located at the junction of the tubing rental office, close to Luang Prabang Bakery. A full-day cave and kayaking trip costs US$25. T: (023) 511 566.
Long motorised boats can easily be hired by the hour for a scenic ride up the river. Most boats can be found at the take-out near Villa Nam Song. It’s a good, considerably safer alternative to tubing or kayaking.
By Cindy Fan.