Our Big Adventure travel blog

Vang Vieng Valley

Series 6 , Episode 8

A bit shaken up after white knuckle tubing


We spent 7 days in this Travellers' haven. We arrived by bus from Luang Prabang and by all accounts we were lucky to make it in 1 day as others told us they had been trapped enroute by mud slides blocking the only road through this raw and untouched countryside.

The scenery was spectaular, we drove through villages, limestone karsts, mountains and valleys for more than 6 hours. We had read it was supposed to be beautiful but the views exceeded our expectations. The scale of the mountains and the colours were overwhelming. It's unlike anywhere either of us have travelled before. It felt wild and untouched by western influences. There was an armed guard on our bus, apparently there is a risk of bandit attacks on this route too.

Vang Vieng is a popular stop for tourists. There are loads of cafes with sofas and cushions that play back to back DVDs and serve 'Happy' menus all day and night.

We had bad weather for 5 out of 7 days so we enjoyed what was on offer and must of watched about 7 movies. There was even a 'Friends' cafe which played nothing but episodes of Friends. Davina got her fix and got up to date with the last episodes.

The Karst scenery around Vang Vieng is awesome and we were fortunate that the rain did stop for us to have the opportunity to try out the infamous tubing here. Basically you drop into the river and, using a huge inertube, drift down for 4k enjoying the scenery. The river was swollen and higher and faster than usual because of the rain over the past few days so the 3 hour, 4k journey down the river actually only took us 30 minutes! It was a white knuckle ride to the end. It was impossible to stay together and I got caught in a different current to Davina and the other guys we were tubing with. I ended up being draged off my tube into some trees and under some rocks was was scary as there was noone around. Davina was 'freaking out' and when I eventually got back into the main current I saw her hanging onto a tree trying to fight the main curent and get to me. We were both shaken up and managed to negotiate a lift back to the village with a fisherman on his boat. It was a reminder that we are not at home where there are rules, regulations and life guards and I think we'll remember to respect that in the future.

Our last day here we hired a motorbike as the weather was great, we drove out to some local villages and an organic farm where we had a tasty organic mulberry shake. The roads aren't that easy to navigate here as there are potholes, mudslides, cows, pigs, ducks, chickens and goats which roam freely across the path. It was good to leave the DVDs and get out and about.

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