Eco-Tourism in Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng is a small town in the middle of the mountains located on the Nam Song River, four hours away by bus from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Many people use Vang Vieng as a pit stop when they travel from Vientiane to Luang Prabang or vice versa. The little town is known as a backpacker paradise with a lot of bars, vivid nightlife, and adventurous activities. Despite Laos being a very conservative and traditional country, Vang Vieng seems to attract young travelers who enjoy alcohol, drugs, and parties. The bad reputation has put off quality tourists from visiting this beautiful little town for so many years. However, in the past years, the government has stepped in and tried their best to restore the town to its past glory. Therefore, this might be a good time for you to visit Vang Vieng and enjoy the immense natural beauty surrounding the area.
The picturesque town is surrounded by hills resulting from limestone karst rock formations, green forest, agricultural landscape, unpaved country roads, a river with clear water, and a turquoise lagoon nearby. There are many outdoor activities that you can enjoy including kayaking, mountain-biking, caving, trekking, rock-climbing, and the famous river tubing in which you float down the river on a rubber inner tube admiring the scenery along the Nam Song River. Although tubing sounds interesting, it can be a dangerous activity as some parts of Nam Song River are shallow with sharp limestone rocks lining the bottom of the river. Besides, your tube can get carried away by motor boats. There are a lot of accidents happened on daily basis as many people do the river tubing while they are drunk or under the influence of some drugs.
While you are in the area, you can rent a mountain bike to go around. Some of the roads are unpaved and bumpy, but it is a good way to explore the area. You can reach many caves and hiking trails using your bike. Or, you can arrange trips with local tour companies in the area for a kayak or hiking trip. Most of the kayak trips will stop at one of caves ashore where you can explore them. If you want to do the hiking, one of the best and easy trails in the area is the trail to Pha Ngeun Peak. You can walk from the town of Vang Vieng to the trail entrance for around one hour. Then, you can hike to the peak for another hour. From the
Pha Ngeun Mountain Peak, you can experience beautiful panoramas of the valley, green fields and small villages below surrounded by limestone karsts.
The Blue Lagoon is another place that you should visit. The turquoise lagoon is located near Tham Phu Kham Cave, around 7 kilometers away from Vang Vieng. You can get there by a bike. The blue water is crystal clear, fresh, with fish inside. You will not be able to resist jumping off a tree into the water. For the cave, you can access the cave via a bamboo ladder. It might be a good idea to visit the cave first, and clean of the dust in the pool.