I did not expect Vang Vieng to be one of the most remarkable destinations during my trip. I used to think it was just all about tubing and being the “party” capital of Laos. Most of the bars at the river had already closed down when I was there, restoring the off-beat vibe of Vang Vieng.

The scenery was absolutely stunning! Drunken party crowd or no drunken party crowd, the beautiful sights of Vang Vieng were definitely worth a visit.

Itinerary Overview

  • Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Luang Prabang to Muang Phu Khoun
Day 1
  • Vang Vieng
  • Muang Phu Khoun to Vang Vieng
  • Vang Vieng Hostel Search
  • Vang Vieng Bicycle Tour
Day 2
  • Vang Vieng
  • Vang Vieng Bicycle Tour
  • Vientiane
  • Laos from North to South
  • Indochina

Travel date — 2012

Route Map

Itinerary Notes & Tips

Since I departed too late in the afternoon from Luang Prabang, I thought to break the land journey to Vang Vieng at a highway junction in Muang Phu Khoun. I didn’t want to arrive at Vang Vieng in the ungodly hours past midnight and staying at the highland village of Muang Phu Khoun may potentially be interesting.

Turns out it wasn’t the best decision. Reason #1: The bus fare was more expensive splitting the journey that doing it in one go. #2: There were no decent cheap places to stay and eat at Muang Phu Khoun. #3: It rained the whole morning after, so I didn’t get to see any views.


Luang Prabang to Muang Phu Khoun

  • 3:00am – Ride songthaew from Luang Prabang’s north bus terminal to the south bus terminal – K30,000 (shared the fare with a traveling couple).
  • Buy bus ticket to Muang Phu Khun – K60,000
    • The bus went all the way to Vientiane via Vang Vieng. The full fare was K100,000 dropping off at any of the two destinations.
  • Ride bus from Luang Prabang to Muang Phu Khun
    • 5:00pm – Departure from Luang Prabang
    • The only good things about dropping off early in Muang Phu Khun was that I didn’t have to endure the stinky, stuffy, crowded, and poorly ventilated bus all the way to Vang Vieng. The  leg room was so small. The guy in front of me kept lowering his backrest despite my knees obviously blocking it. One guy was spilling his guts out 3 hours into the ride.
    • 9:45pm – Arrival at Muang Phu Khoun.

Muang Phu Khoun Hostel search

Sorted through 3 guest houses near the Y-intersection, one in each direction of the road. The first offered one night at K45,000, the 2nd at K50,000, and the 3rd at 85,000 (haggled down to 70,000). Checked it at the 2nd guesthouse after they lowered the rate to K40,000 per night.

  • Check-in at the second guesthouse (located along the road that went towards the direction of the plain of jars)
    • Double room with shared TB – K40,000 per night (haggled)
    • Worst guesthouse I stayed in Laos so far. It had dusty pillows and awful ventilation (no fan was needed since the area is located high up in the mountains). The door lock on my room was broken. Fortunately, they had a large dresser, which I used to block the door. Bathroom was a squat toilet, the first I had used in Laos and Thailand so far. To top it all off, the bathroom door lock was broken :{

Day 1

Muang Phu Khoun to Vang Vieng

  • Eat at noodle soup place along the highway to Vang Vieng – 20,000kip
    • Noodle soup (with complimentary tea) – 15,000kip
    • Coffee  – 5,000
  • Toilet – K2,000
  • Wait for bus to pass by
  • Ride A/C bus from Muang Phu Kun to Vang Vieng – K70,000
    • Around 11am to 12nn – Departure from Muang Phu Kun
    • Late lunch at bus stop an hour before Vang Vieng
      • Rice with mixed toppings – K15,000
    • Around 3pm – Arrived at Vang Vieng bus stop.

Vang Vieng Hostel Search

  • Walk to the southern edge of town.
  • Check-in at Jamee Guest House
  • Nice, spacious, and clean room A/C room with a double bed, private TB, balcony with a refreshing view of the countryside, TV (only English channels were BBC and HBO), free (albeit super slow) WIFI – K50,000 per night (haggled down and heavily discounted since the guest house was still under construction).

Vang Vieng Bicycle Tour

After arriving and finding a nice place to stay for the night in Vang Vieng, I roamed around town to look for ‘bicycle for rent’ shops, which were easy to find. I only had a few hours of daylight left on my first day and it was only enough time to explore a bit of town and spend the sunset at a peaceful rice fields a few kilometers north of the town center.

  • Rent bike – K30,000 (return next day)
  • Eat at stall near Jammee Guest House
    • Bacon baguette sandwich – K15,000
  • Bike tour to rice fields north of the town center
  • Eat at stall near Jammee Guest House
    • Pork with veggies + rice + Mango shake – 26,000kip

Day 2

Continue Vang Vieng Bicycle Tour

  • Eat at stall near Jammee Guest House
    • Ham sandwich  – 15,000kip
    • Iced coffee – 6,000kip
  • Bicycle tour to rice fields across the river

The next day, the sun and blue skies finally revealed itself in full splendor. Seeing the refreshing view of the river, green fields, and majestic steep limestone cliffs totally changed my preconception of Vang Vieng as just another party destination on the Banana Pancake trail.

I crossed the wooden footbridge to the other side of the river, where I saw the best landscapes on my trip around Laos so far. I didn’t venture too far because I planned on traveling to Vientiane on the same day.

  • 9:45am – Check-out at Jammee Guest House

Vang Vieng to Vientiane Bus