I initially wanted to come to Vang Vieng for the tubing, which is basically where all the tourist hop into the inner tubes of tires, float down the river and get drunk at the bars that are dotted ever 20 metres or so. Okay, so I know that sounds horribly touristy, but I was feeling like letting my hair down a little, and speaking to several British tourist, I thought it would be fun!
However, on arrival in Vang Vieng, where a gorgeous sunset greeted me from behind the mountains, I was a little appalled by the overcrowded tuk tuks driving past with drunken people basically doing laps around the town. In any case, the weather in Vang Vieng stayed cool, so I didn't fancy spending an entire day being wet.
Vang Vieng is definitely a town undergoing a great deal of change. Before it became famous for tubing, I don't think many tourists bothered to stop here. It is now so popular though, that guesthouses are popping up like mushrooms after the rain, so much so if felt as though almost the entire town was under construction. once again, the food in Vang Vieng was delicious and cheap. I stayed away from the "Happy" pizza on the menu, which includes a certain green herb you can't buy in Coles, lol.
I decided to hire a bicycle and get out of town to see the countryside, including the river, mountains and caves. It was really the best way to see the real Vang Vieng in my opinion, and I spent a blissful day in the sunshine, enjoying nature! The cave system in Vang Vieng is really worthwhile visiting, though a tour is not for the faint hearted as it involves clambering through pitch blackness lit only buy the guide's torch up ahead. Within the first five minutes I really wished I'd brought my own torch. It was an absolutely amazing experience to wander through these caves at will, unhindered by any pesky things like stairs, paths or guard rails that just take all the danger out of caving! lol. These places definitely wouldn't pass either a public or workplace safety test!
Sunset found me sitting in a bar by the river, drinking beer and taking photographs of the mountains and river as the sky gradually changed colour. It's not a bad life I'm having here in Laos! :)