Photo: Kayaking in Vang Vieng.


Our rating:

Tubing in Vang Vieng is still great for those seeking to have fun with friends, drink a few beers and experience some amazing scenery. But the serious party on the river is over. “Tubing” was once a synonym for backpacker debauchery: the Nam Song river was lined with illegal bars brazenly selling bucket drinks and drugs. At its peak, more than 400 people a day would tube down the river – and fly into the river via makeshift swings, slides and zip lines.

Travel better, travel smarter

Save money, receive our latest updates and get the most out of your travels.


Just chilling.

Just chilling.

It was a disaster waiting to happen, and it did happen, frequently, for many years, and when the deaths of young backpackers finally drew international media attention and pressure in 2012, the Lao government at last cracked down.

So while backpackers today loudly lament how they wish they’d got to experience the tubing heyday, there is no question that the change is for the better. There are still a few bars on the river with music that will throw a rope and pull you in so you can stop for a beer, a chat or a game of mud volleyball, but instead of advertising happy shakes and opium, signs at the bars sell you with “Free WiFi”. And tubing itself is still worthwhile as it’s an awesome way to get close to the stunning karst that looms over the river.


Preparing for action.

The system for tubing is the same as it always was and it remains a well-oiled machine: Roll up to the tubing mafia office, pay 55,000 kip for the rental plus 60,000 kip deposit and sign away your right to sue if it all goes horribly wrong. A tuk tuk driver promptly loads four to 12 people into the back of his vehicle as well as all the tubes and drives four kilometres north to the drop off point right next to the Vang Vieng Organic Farm (which in itself is worth a visit for a meal).


More sober than in the past, probably.

You must return the tube by 18:00 sharp or incur a 20,000 kip penalty. Return it after 20:00 and you lose your whole deposit. The office rents dry bags for 15,000 kip but they don’t look so reliable. Bring your own dry bag and don’t bring anything you care about.


You’ve been warned.

In dry season it takes about three hours without stops to travel the entire length, finishing at the seasonal bamboo bridge. Water levels can get so low you’re backside sometimes scrapes along the bottom. In rainy season it takes as little as two hours, with water swift and high. It must be said: If you can’t swim then tubing is not for you.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Vang Vieng.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Vang Vieng.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Vang Vieng.
 Read up on how to get to Vang Vieng.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Vang Vieng? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

See below for more sights and activities in Vang Vieng that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Vang Vieng? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.

Top of page