River Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

Laos was my first destination as a solo traveler and I believe it was the perfect choice. The reason I chose Laos was solely for the purpose of tubing in Vang Vieng – I mean, literally, the minute I read about river tubing in Laos, I was sold! I simply booked my air tickets and off I went – No friends, no hotel bookings, no plans – That’s it!

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Laos has everything that appeals to a young solo backpacker (Okay, I am not that young – but heck, age is just a number!). From jungles to mountains, caves and rivers , biking on dirt roads, bluest lagoons and friendly locals – Laos was just amazing. However, the reason for my trip was actually the highlight – Tubing! I simply loved every minute of tubing and the laid back vibe of Vang Vieng – The perfect mantra for happiness.

In Vang Vieng, my favorite ways to unwind were – laying on a hammock, chilling in a cafe or tubing on the slow paced Nam Song river– Imagine a life so blissful and relaxed! Who would want to leave? This is exactly what Vang Vieng does to you, it draws you in and makes you stay.

Chilling on a hammock by the Nam Song River

Chilling on a hammock by the Nam Song River

River tubing is perhaps the most enjoyable thing you can do on a vacation – It comprises of all elements needed for a perfect getaway – Party, Beer, Exercise,  Adventure, meeting new people, exploring new places and so much more. It is not just a drunken touristy activity, like few claim – Nope! Not at all – It is SO much more!

Amazing experience of river tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

River Tubing in Vang Vieng

River Tubing in Vang Vieng

Here’s how it goes. You simply rent out tubes and jump into a swanky party tuk tuk with a bunch of strangers (who turn into friends within minutes). The tuk tuk takes you to the starting point of tubing, which also happens to be a bar. Now, the entire tubing stretch is lined with bars on both sides – which makes you wonder if you ought to drink before you even start tubing – You see everyone is playing beer pong and other party games and you cannot help but join the fun – so, you do the logical thing and jump right in.

Bar One by the River - Party Begins

Bar One by the River – Party Begins

After an hour and a few beers later you do the next logical thing, tube down the lazy river to the next bar. While on the lazy river you will be “roped in” by several smaller bar owners who will sell you beer – by all means, go for it – but, don’t be silly enough to get river water in your beer – like I did, twice!

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When we (by we, I mean me and my new found friends) reached the second bar, we saw a few signs going up to a cave. We decided to explore. It was a short hike amidst lush green vegetation & I simply loved it. Soon we reached a pitch dark cave with no one else is sight. My friends and I (we were three girls, each of us were traveling solo and happened to meet randomly) took out our phones for flashlight and explored the cave for around 30 minutes. To our surprise, the dark cave kept going on and on – deeper and deeper – till we finally gave up. It was slippery, pitch dark and not a soul in sight (Except for us, of course). We knew we were running out of battery in our phones and then we would have no way out of the cave in the darkness. Even though, our adventurous zeal was pushing us to go on and explore more, we decided to be sensible and go back to our logical drinking spree.

Making our way to the cave

Making our way to the cave

Short lovely hike to the cave

Short lovely hike to the cave

As soon as we reached back to the bar, it happened to rain and I thought – heck, what now! Within seconds everyone was dancing and mud-ding in the rain – That’s when the party actually kicked off. It was one hell of a crazy fiasco. We danced for a few hours till we realized we had to go back.

Rain dance, anyone?

Rain dance, anyone?

Drinking & Dancing in the Rain

Drinking & Dancing in the Rain

Tubing ends around 6 pm, we carried on till 8. It was dark and no one is allowed to go back via the river route that time – you need to carry your tubes and take a tuk tuk all the way back to the rental shop. My friend and I, however, decided otherwise. We set off in our tubes – two crazy chicks going down the lazy river in the dark . Mind you, this was our first time tubing and we had absolutely no idea where tubing ended. After half an hour, we were pretty sure we were headed to Vietnam and going to get lost in the river. After a lot of struggling and drunk self navigation, we managed to spot lights on the shore from a restaurant. We recalled we were laying on their comfy hammocks earlier in the day. That was our landmark and we tubed to the shore to make our way into known territory.

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All in all, it was quite an adventure with the caves, hikes and getting lost in the river at night – so, it is not just about getting drunk and partying on the river. Plus, tubing was hard – it took some skill and a lot of effort (At times – especially since water was rough because of the rains). Hence, it was a great exercise too.

Cloudy with a chance of Thunderstorm

Cloudy with a chance of Thunderstorm

Like all popular party places, you need to be careful and follow basic safety measures in order to enjoy to the fullest and avoid any mishaps. Some tips you should keep in mind for tubing in Vang Vieng

1. Go back to the rental shop before 6 pm OR take the tuk tuk all the way back (Unlike what I did).

2. Carry a water proof bag for your cell phone and wallet

3. Wear floaters or strapped sandals – you will surely lose your flip flops.

4. Don’t drink and tube – Ahem! Ahem!

5. Don’t get lost

That’s about it – now go and enjoy river tubing in Vang Vieng and I guarantee you will have a gala time.

Have you tubed before? How was it? Tell me about your experience.

 

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  • Nikoleta Míchalová

    Oh boy, I simply CANNOT imagine getting lost. I would freak out. Real bad!!

  • Grassroots Nomad

    Looks like you had a great time! I’m so curious though – did you find that the tourists were respectful to the local community? Like in terms of their clothing, PDA, etc?

    • Well, honestly, being a small “party” town everyone was wearing bikinis while tubing/in bars by the river etc – I believe the locals are used to this culture in Vang Vieng.. Maybe not in other parts of Laos though.

  • Chantell Collins

    Oh I so want to go! I barely got to see any of Laos when I was in SE Asia last year. Big mistake – it’s high on my list now :).

  • What an adventure! I thought the party tubing was shut down a few years ago, though? I guess not if you went recently, though! I’ve heard such mixed things about tubing, but it sounds like you had a blast!

    • Yes it was due to some “incidents” – but its back on. I guess its their main source of income so they compromise by keeping few bars shut everyday. I heard a lot of mixed stuff too but it was totally relaxing and enjoyable.

  • The Nerdventurists

    I’ve never had a good experience tubing myself, but glad you did!

  • Laos is such a great county! We didn’t get to tube the river, but it looks fun and great tips!

  • Sounds like so much fun! Love your spontaneity; your fun and adventurous spirit really comes through in your writing 🙂

  • ThisKenyanTraveler

    This looks like a great experience. I hope to visit Laos one day

  • What a fun little adventure! I must admit that I would’ve freaked out too, getting lost. Sounds like a fun day – and a great way to meet other travelers.

  • Probearoundthe Globe

    That looks like such a great and laid back experience. I guess it’s on every ones Laos-bucket list

  • what fun!