Vang Vieng is a popular tourist town in Laos, located about 150 kilometres north of the capital, Vientiane. It’s known for its stunning natural landscapes, which include limestone karst hills, caves, and the Nam Song River.

The town is famous for its outdoor adventure opportunities, such as tubing, kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. The river tubing experience, once notorious for its party scene, has been reformed to be more family-friendly and safer. The area is also home to numerous caves, such as Tham Phu Kham and Tham Chang, which are popular for exploration. Hot air balloon rides are available for those who want to see the landscape from above. You definitely won’t get bored here!

When to go?

The most popular time to visit Laos is between November and April, at least if you don’t like rain as it’s the dry season. However, nothing is as easy as it seems. You won’t get wet, but it’s the time of intense agricultural burnouts with dense haze hanging over the mountains and the air quality is regularly rated as unhealthy.

I traveled to Laos in March but next time I would go at the very beginning or the end of the rainy season, so in October or May. Getting a bit wet is certainly better than breathing in all that air pollution!

How to get there?

By train

Laos-China railway is the first railway network in Laos and it’s becoming increasingly popular as it connects the major cities and towns like Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Boten. The average travel duration on the route between Vientiane and Vang Vieng is about 1 hour. It’s advised to buy the train tickets in advance to secure your seats.

By road

Regular buses run from the Northern Bus Station (Khua Din Bus Station) in Vientiane to Vang Vieng. The journey typically takes about 4-5 hours and is the most economical option.

Minivans are a bit faster than buses, taking around 3-4 hours. They depart from various locations in Vientiane, including travel agencies and guesthouses. Minivans are more comfortable and often have air conditioning.

There are also regular buses from Luang Prabang, taking around 6-7 hours. The buses depart from the Southern Bus Station.

Similar to buses, minivans are available and offer a slightly faster journey, around 5-6 hours. They also provide more comfort and air conditioning.

By air

There are no direct flights to Vang Vieng, as it does not have an airport. Travellers can fly to Vientiane or Luang Prabang and then take a bus, minivan, or taxi to Vang Vieng.

Check your connections at 12Go.Asia.

Vang Vieng, Laos
The landscape around Vang Vieng

Where to stay?

I spent two nights in Saphaothong Guesthouse which was a good choice. The room was spacious and there was a desk for working. The reception guy was very friendly and he organized a scooter for me, although its quality was far from optimal.

The room in Saphaothong Guesthouse

How long should you stay?

I would recommend a minimum of 2-3 days to cover the sights around Vang Vieng. The countryside around the town is gorgeous and there are so many caves, lagoons, mountains and villages to explore that you don’t want to be in a hurry.

Vang Vieng, Laos
The landscape around Vang Vieng

How to get around?

The town itself is small, and many attractions, restaurants, and accommodations are within walking distance. However, for attractions outside the town centre, you’ll need another mode of transportation.

Bicycles can be rented from various guesthouses, hotels, and rental shops in town. They are fine to explore some nearby attractions like caves and blue lagoons but are definitely not suitable for longer distances or rough terrain.

Scooters provide flexibility to explore farther and at your own pace, especially in hot weather. Don’t forget that you need a driving licence, even if no one asks you for one during the renting process. Otherwise, you won’t be covered by your travel insurance. Roads can be rough and safety gear like helmets should always be used. Also, be prepared to get dirty as most of the roads around Vang Vieng are dirt ones and every time someone overtakes you, you will find yourself in a dirt cloud.

Vang Vieng, Laos
A dirt road through the countryside

If you don’t feel comfortable riding a scooter, tuk-tuks can be easily found in the town centre and around popular tourist spots. Can be more expensive than other options, and prices often need to be negotiated.

Another alternative is to rent a buggy, especially if travelling in a group, although it also isn’t the most budget-friendly option. Moreover, check the condition of the vehicle before you hit the road as some of them look like they are going to fall apart…

What to do in Vang Vieng?


There are a few interesting Buddhist temples in Vang Vieng town centre, e.g. Wat Si Sou Mang, Wat Kang, Wat Simixay Yaram or Wat That.

Tham Chang

The most accessible of the caves in the Vang Vieng area, within walking distance from the town. You have to climb about 150 steps to get to the cave entrance. The ticket costs 20.000 LAK and the cave is very easy to explore with pathways and lights. There are also some food vendors outside selling drinks and snacks.

Vang Vieng, Laos
The aerial view of Ban Nampè village

Blue Lagoon 1 and Phu Kham Cave

The busiest and most popular of the lagoons due to its proximity to Vang Vieng. There is a 5-meter jumping platform and some swings. It can get very crowded and noisy so for sure the place isn’t right for everyone, but the cave with the laying Buddha is impressive and worth exploring. You will most likely be completely alone there if you enter a bit deeper. It’s slippery inside, so bring good shoes and a flashlight is a must. You can rent some at the entrance of the cave.

Blue Lagoons 2, 3, 5

Vang Vieng is surely not short on natural springs. While some lagoons are more picturesque than others, there can be a large number of visitors, particularly at the busiest time of year. The majority of them have rope swings and jumping platforms. Besides popular Blue Lagoon 1, it’s worth visiting more distant but often less crowded lagoons numbered 2, 3 and 5. Blue Lagoon 5 is the most faraway one, however, you will ride through a very scenic village Ban Nampè, which is a great experience in itself.

Vang Vieng, Laos
One of blue lagoons
Vang Vieng, Laos
The aerial view of a small village near Vang Vieng

Vangvieng Inter Park and Nang Oua Khiam Cave

Nice place with a swimming area and plenty of shaded rest areas. The dinosaur statues are kitschy but nature is worth exploring. I highly recommend climbing up to the cave and the viewpoint. The way to the top is definitely not 30 meters as stated on the information board and it will take you about 20 – 30 minutes to reach the observation platform. The good point is that there are hardly any tourists visiting this viewpoint so most likely you will have it for yourself. If you want to check out the cave, bring your torch!

Vang Vieng, Laos
Spectacular view from the viewpoint at Vangvieng Inter Park

Nam Xay Viewpoint

A short but steep and sweaty hike will reward you with breathtaking 360-degree views of dramatic karst rock formations, verdant forests, and stretches of rural land and rice fields when reaching the summit. A wooden viewing deck is placed on top but feel free to explore the vista from all sides by moving around it over the rocks. Just below the summit, on both sides, are oddly positioned motorcycles, which you can sit on to get a fantastic picture!

The hike to the top takes about 30 minutes and the place can get crazily busy at sunset time.

Vang Vieng, Laos
Highly popular photo spot on Nam Xay Viewpoint
Vang Vieng, Laos
Aerial view of Nam Xay Viewpoint

Phapoungkham Cave and Viewpoint

In my opinion, the best short hike and viewpoint in the Vang Vieng area. There’s a lot more to explore than just the viewpoint which makes it well worth the time and effort. You will see a cave, Buddha statues, and the aeroplane at the top. The entrance costs 20.000 LAK per person and it takes about 20-30 minutes to reach the top, mostly walking on slabs and rocks. Wear comfortable shoes. There was no one else besides me which added to the experience, especially after visiting a very busy Nam Xay Viewpoint.

Vang Vieng, Laos
Phapoungkham Viewpoint
Vang Vieng, Laos
Phapoungkham Viewpoint

Num Bor Keo Cave

If you’re searching for a more daring kind of cave exploring, Num Bor Keo Cave is a bit difficult to find, but well worth the effort. You will pay a 20.000 LAK entrance fee and they give you a small headlamp. The cave is more of a crawling and easy climbing experience. Sometimes you will notice yellow arrows that show you the way to go. It is a nice place to visit, but it is understandable why there are fewer tourists than in other caves in the Vang Vieng area.

Pha Ngern View Point

The physically demanding Pha Ngern hike is divided into two parts. Depending on your speed, it takes about 1 – 1,5 hours to get to the summit, with a stop at the first viewpoint on the way. Most of the trail is pretty steep so take your time and don’t forget water!

You will have to pay 10,000 LAK to enter the path. A small hut at the first viewpoint sells water, soft drinks and snacks. The views are magnificent and there was also a buggy placed on the rocks. Interesting trend to put these kinds of things on top of almost all viewpoints in Vang Vieng!

Vang Vieng, Laos
Pha Ngern View Point
Vang Vieng, Laos
Pha Ngern View Point

Angel Cave

A nice cave that is well lit up, and easy to walk across as there is a concrete path all the way through. You can find food and drinks right outside after you’re done with sightseeing.

Kaeng Nyui Waterfall

The place is to be visited in the wet season only, otherwise don’t expect any water. From the starting point to the waterfall is only a short walk. As of May 2024, the road to get there was under construction, so it will eventually be a really easy bike ride out there once the works are over.

Loup Cave

One of the best caves in Vang Vieng. If you travel on a scooter, you will have to pay a bridge toll of 5,000 LAK. After that, you arrive at a grassy field with a stand where you are charged 15,000 LAK to access one cave or 30,000 LAK for two of them. The caves are completely dark inside with no lights. You will be given a headlamp, but usually it isn’t very strong, so it’s better to have your own, more powerful one.

Tham Nam (Water Cave)

The most notable cave in the north of Vang Vieng. The 500-meter-long cave has an entrance from which a branch of the Nam Song flows. You can wade inside the cave during the dry season, but when the water is higher, you’ll need to borrow a tube and sit inside it, dragging yourself down the tunnel using the fixed rope. It was a truly unique experience!

Elephant Cave

There is not much to see except for the stone which resembles an elephant and a sleeping Buddha. You should be able to complete the tour in less than 5 minutes. You can stop here on the way to Tham Nam, otherwise don’t bother.

TCK Zipline

The place gets good reviews and I heard that ziplining there is incredible. The superb views and the friendly staff make the experience perfectly enjoyable.

Hot air balloon

A ride in a hot-air balloon is a lovely way to see the cliffs, tapestry of paddy fields and snaking river below. Departures are at sunrise and sunset and a 1-hour ride costs 100 – 150 USD. One of the most reputable operators is Above Laos.

Vang Vieng, Laos
Air balloon over Vang Vieng

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