Vang Vieng: Dusty Motorcycle Rides and Wild Caves

February 17, 2018

Vang Vieng is the outdoor activities capital of Laos. Here you can go swimming in beautiful lagoons, explore caves, go climbing, zip lining, tubing, hot air ballooning, flying in a delta with motor… I’m probably forgetting some of the activities on offer. Last but not least, you can also just admire the natural beauty that surrounds you. We preferred the less adrenaline-intensive activities, so we rented a scooter and went exploring some caves and the landscapes around Vang Vieng.

The Caves

There are many caves around Vang Vieng and it’s surprisingly difficult to find good information about them. Maybe that’s in order to discourage you from going on your own and rather join one of the many organized tours on offer. Being who we are, we still preferred to go on our own, but that meant a lot of online research, even just to find out where the caves are.

The caves are not really set up for visitors. In the best case, there are some stairs to the entry of the cave, and then you’re on your own – even though you have to pay a small entry fee. That can be a good and a bad thing: the caves are really in their natural state (except for the presence of Buddha statues in some of them), but you have no idea what awaits you inside and you’re entirely responsible for not getting lost inside the cave.

I was definitely outside of my comfort zone going into those caves – I basically left my comfort zone at the entrance of each cave… But it was definitely an interesting experience to explore those caves with no walkways, no artificial light set up (of course, we had headlamps with us), and no guiding markings to help you find your way inside.

The Blue Lagoons

There are a few so-called Blue Lagoons around Vang Vieng. Helpfully (but not very imaginatively), they have numbers attached to them, so you know whether you’re at Blue Lagoon 1, or 2, and so on. And they’re rather green than blue, but I suppose calling them “blue” sounds better. Depending on where the organized tours go, some of the Blue Lagoons are full of people and others are almost deserted. In any case, they were all beautiful – and the water rather cold.

The Landscape

Vang Vieng is beautifully located in a wide valley between several ranges of mountains, on the Xong River. Within a one-hour scooter ride from the village, you get to see amazing landscapes. Even just driving around with no target on countryside roads constantly brings you beautiful views in unexpected places. You have to be prepared though, because most of those roads are not paved and, in the dry season, they are extremely dusty. Any passing vehicle raises a cloud of dust, which completely envelops you on your scooter. At the very least, you have to wear a scarf over your nose and mouth, and be sure you have a place to shower in the evening.

Here are a few short videos I took while we were driving around Vang Vieng:

Highs and Lows


  • Just the fact that nothing bad happened here. After the fire in Sihanoukville and having to take Daniel to the hospital in Luang Prabang, it had started to seem like we keep having these bad experiences and I was wondering what the next one would be. But really, Vang Vieng was pretty much free of bad experiences, so I count this as one of my highs.
  • The sunset light is so special here. I don’t know why that is, but it has such a soft and warm quality. We spent one sunset in the countryside close to the village and one by the river drinking cocktails, and they were both such special moments. We took tens of photos and couldn’t stop ooohh-ing and aaaahhh-ing :)


  • The bus ride to get to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang. It took 7 hours for 190 km! That included 3 short stops and it was all on very curvy mountain roads, so I could understand why the driver drove so slowly. The bus was fairly comfortable, the views were quite beautiful in some places, but at one point I was thinking we would never arrive! On the good side though, I could catch up on some podcasts I wanted to listen to, and I tried to take the whole thing as an exercise in patience, which is really not one of my strengths…

Next Stop

From Vang Vieng we’re moving on to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Expected bus ride duration: 3 hours. I’m sure it will seem like nothing after the 7-hour bus ride from Luang Prabang :D

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