Across the river from the main town of Vang Vieng are a couple of places which provide cheap bungalow accommodation with hammocks. Even if you're in town for tubing, the all night party noises are not what you want for the duration of your stay. On this side you can relax in your hammock by the river and choose to join in the fun on the other side if and when you're ready instead of having to put up with it.
Google map: bit.ly/MnALlp
A wonderful Lord-of-the-Rings style subterranean adventure, reached by kayak. After climbing to the cave entrance we waded, up to our chests, up a stream flowing out of the cave. Then, lit only by the candles we carried, we followed the guide through passageways to a cathedral-like cavern where people retreated to live during more troubled times. Eventually we scrambled up towards a point of light to emerge higher up the tree-covered hillside. Not for the faint-hearted!
Enquire in one of the tour/trip offices in Vang Vieng / Luang Prabang, or www.greendiscoverylaos.com/
There are organised trips to kayak down the river from Vang Vieng to Vientiene - well, a mini bus takes you for about an hour at each end but you kayak for most of the way. The river is beautiful and the guides are excellent, even cooking up a barbie on the rocks for lunch! You get to go through some white-water, which is exhillarating, and there's a huge rock jump for the brave en route. The whole day is brilliant fun and beats the pants off the 7 hour drive in a cramped minibus over mile upon mile of unmade road.
If you're in Vang Vieng you're probably a backpacker and you'll probably love tubing on the river. For a couple of dollars you can hire a giant inflated inner tube and get a ride in a pickup to a shallow point of the river a few miles upstream. Get in your tube, float down the river. On the way various people will sell you large Beerlaos for a dollar each and there's various rickety swings and bridges to jump from. The river's not deep or fast and the scenery is absolutely stunning: jagged limestone karst cliffs, jungle and blue skies.
The ride should take about three hours, but took our group around five with the low river and larking about. Take sun cream. Great fun.
Ask the wet people carrying the inner tubes in Vang Vieng.
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