Vang Vieng – Lao
Vang Vieng had acquired the reputation as being a mecca for backpackers from across the globe. They made their way to this remote little slice of paradise to party, get high, and drink themselves into a drunken stupor. All that has changed. The hotel owners and restaurant owners have worked with the government tourist office to recapture the tranquility that drew visitors here in the first place.
There’s not much of a town in Vang Vieng. It’s the natural beauty that is the huge draw.
Stay at one of the hotels on the Nam Song River, where the river – that resembles a sheet of glass – is dominated by the soaring limestone karsts. The view is simply breathtaking. Make sure you book a room with a full river view.
Spend your days kayaking or floating in a tube down-river, stopping at a bar or restaurant along the way. If you’re into rock climbing, contact one of the rock climbing tour companies like Green Discovery. There are also several rock climbing schools. Rock climbing among the limestone peaks is said to be a memorable experience.
I have always been fascinated by caves, and Vang Vieng is a cave lover’s heaven. One can rent bicycles or a tuk-tuk and a driver, pack a snack, water, a bathing suit, and towel, and set out for a day of exploring the spectacular caves that are hidden within the limestone karsts. Some caves are just for walking, others are big enough to explore by kayak, and several entice one to swim in the cool, clear waters.
Waking up in the mornings and being greeted by the crisp, fresh air, the sight of the golden sun shine caressing the tips of the majestic peaks, the light mist rising off the river, and the reflections in the water, is a sight that I will never forget.