It’s crowded these days, but Blue Lagoon is a great spot to relax and cool off, especially as a reward after a hot sweaty bike ride on bone jarring dirt road.
Tourism is a double-edged sword and this stunning natural idyll attracts dozens, perhaps even hundreds of visitors a day that all contribute to its uglification. The lagoon is a stunning turquoise blue, clean, refreshingly cold and filled with an abundance of fish but now there are rope swings, ladders and crowds gather to watch as friends goad each other into jumping from in from the top of a tree. Vendors have popped up renting life jackets and tubes, and there is a big plastic slide and ugly wood huts with tin roofs along the water to enjoy beer and food. And this is why Vang Vieng can’t have nice things.
But if you aren’t as cynical as we are about such things, then it’s a great spot to relax and cool off, especially as a reward after a hot sweaty bike ride on bone jarring dirt road. Blue Lagoon is seven kilometres from town. Cross the toll bridge (4,000 kip per person, 6,000 kip for bicycle and 10,000 kip for motorbike) and head west, perhaps stopping at Lao Valhalla one kilometre in for a fruit shake. After four kilometres, you’ll come to a fork. Take a right and continue until you reach the gate.
At the Blue Lagoon you can also visit Tham Poukham or “Cave of the Golden Crab,” named because a few of the stalactites and stalgmites look like golden crabs. The entrance requires a steep, slippery climb up a trail before the cave dives 100 metres into the ground, through a narrow entrance and opening up into the first chamber which is well lit and contains a bronze reclining Buddha illuminated by a ray of sunlight.
If you want to explore further, you will definitely need a torch (bring your own or rent for 10,000 kip) and it’s advisable to hire a guide; a sign advertises the rate of 50,000 kip. Unmarked slippery pitch-black pathways and tunnels lead to underground lakes, deep wells and more rock formations.
Along the road to the Blue Lagoon are a few turnoffs to caves and other lagoons including one leading to a fake Blue Lagoon complete with sign and ticket booth. The fake Blue Lagoon is a simple bend in a creek with a swing rope and a couple of pavilions in which to relax — you’ll know you’re at the fake one if there are only a couple of other people around. The fake Blue Lagoon is two kilometres short of the real one — and is not worth visiting.
By Cindy Fan.