Vang Vieng

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Planet View: N18°55.282′ E102°26.792′
Street View: N18°55.282′ E102°26.792′

Almost vertical steps into Thamchang CaveA footbridge over the Nam Xong River on the way to Thamchang CaveLisa buying some banana chips in Vang ViengThe bus trip from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was an amazing journey through the mountains of northern Laos, taking us up to elevations above 4300 feet a number of times along the way.  It took us almost seven hours to travel a mere 300 kilometers, I doubt if there was more than a single kilometer during the first six hours of the trip without a hairpin bend on the single-lane road, but it gave us a chance to take in some of the brilliant mountainous jungle Sam enjoying some Beerlao at the Sakura Bar in Vang ViengEndless bars and restaurants offering western food in Vang Viengscenery.  (Unfortunately the Thamchang Cavewindows of the bus didn’t open so I didn’t take any photos.)  We spent a couple of nights in the small village of Vang Vieng situated alongside the fast-moving Nam Xong River, stopping to break up the trip between Luang Prabang and Laos’ capital of Vientiane.  The jagged limestone mountains jutting almost vertically out of Vang Vieng’s surrounding rice paddies made for some beautiful surrounds and reminded us of the mountains in Kalambaka.  Unfortunately the influx of tourists to Vang Vieng has stripped the town of most of its traditional culture, the main street is littered with bars and restaurants playing reruns of Friends or Hollywood movies for the plethora of British backpackers that seem to be drawn to this tiny town in northern Laos.  If we were missing western food (which we’re not!) we’d have no problem finding anything from pizza to hamburgers and Sakura Bar drinksFrench fries at any one of the Vang Vieng eateries.  You can supposedly pay a little extra at some of the restaurants for a ‘happy meal’ which entails having marijuana, mushrooms or opium mixed into your dish!

Panoramic view of Vang Vieng and the Nam Xong River from Thamchang CaveWe spent our day in Vang Vieng exploring one of the limestone caves for which the countryside around town is famous.  Thamchang Cave is located a couple of kilometers out of town across a footbridge over the Nam Xong River.  While not as grand as the massive limestone amphitheater we visited in Vietnam’s Halong Bay, the small opening of Thamchang welcomed us into some brilliant caverns that stretch back into the cliffs for hundreds of meters.  An opening in the cliff face provided us a fantastic bird’s eye view of Vang Vieng and the surrounding rice paddies.

A bridge over the Nam Xong River in Vang ViengView of the limestone mountains around Vang ViengThamchang Resort on the way to Thamchang Cave Thamchang CaveThe spring-fed swimming hole outside Thamchang CaveThamchang Cave

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 AM and is filed under Laos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Vang Vieng”

  1. Sophie says:

    Looks so cool!!

  2. Lynn Westoby says:

    Wow, the town and countryside look so clean & tidy! You didn’t say if you partook of the “happy Meal” lynn

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