3 Places You Must Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren’t the Blue Lagoon – Yoga, Wine & Travel

3 Places You Must Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren’t the Blue Lagoon

Before Vang Vieng became a hub in Laos for adventure and outdoor sports, it was famous for hosting drunken tubing excursions down the river. After a government crackdown led to the riverside bars being shut down, the town has worked on rebranding itself (although you will still be able to join bar crawls a few nights a week!); places like Yoga in Vang Vieng have opened up and the focus has been shifted to promoting the incredible natural caves, waterfalls and lagoons in the area. Believe me when I say that there are a plethora of beautiful places to visit and exciting things to do in Vang Vieng!

Vang Vieng Kaeng Nyui Waterfall 4

The most well known hot spot in Vang Vieng is the Blue Lagoon, a swimming spot famous for its aquamarine water…except much like the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, it is not so blue during rainy season.

Vang Vieng Blue Lagoon 1

It also tends to be extremely crowded (and isn’t even the only blue-coloured lagoon in the area – there are 3 that are all named “The Blue Lagoon”!), which is why you need to know about some of your other options for amazing places to visit in Vang Vieng: I recently spent five weeks living and teaching yoga in Vang Vieng and while I’m surprised that these places aren’t on everyone’s radar, in a way I was glad because it meant we got them all to ourselves!

Things to know before you visit Vang Vieng

  • Before you travel to Vang Vieng, make sure you download these maps to your phone from Hobo Maps: Vang Vieng town map, Vang Vieng area map Vang Vieng north map. Most places in town will sell hard copies of the map but you can access them for free online.
  • The currency is the Lao Kip, and the exchange rate varies from approximately 8000-8100 LAK: 1 USD. There are plenty of places to exchange money in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng itself, and there are also ATMs where you can withdraw money.
  • Vang Vieng is a fairly small town but has plenty of restaurant options and minimarts where you can find most of what you need.
  • Getting to/from Vang Vieng is relatively painless. Buses run from Vientiane (drive takes ~3 hours) and Luang Prabang (drive takes ~4-6 hours) every day. The buses travel along fairly windy roads and when it rains, the bus journey can take an extra hour longer so pop a Dramamine tablet before you hop on.
  • There are plenty of accommodation options in Vang Vieng, from hostels to boutique hotels. If you want a perfect view of the Nam Song River and karst mountains then I would recommend staying at the Silver Naga Hotel or the Elephant Crossing Hotel. Both hotels are located in the heart of Vang Vieng town.

Unmissable places to visit in Vang Vieng

1. Kaeng Nyui Waterfall

After being slightly disappointed that I wasn’t able to swim at Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, I quickly Googled whether there was a waterfall in Vang Vieng I could frolic in. I was still slightly skeptical about visiting Kaeng Nyui Waterfall just 1 week later – during rainy season. Kaeng Nyui is a super scenic 20-25 minute drive away from the center of town on the east side of Vang Vieng. While Kuang Si was roaring during rainy season, Kaeng Nyui was at its best (it tends to be a trickle during the dry season) with the heavy rain flow that we experienced the days leading up to the visit.

A leisurely 5 minute walk later, you reach the first of several smaller waterfalls which you can also swim in.

Vang Vieng Kaeng Nyui Waterfall 2

Vang Vieng Kaeng Nyui Waterfall 3

Keep walking for another 10 minutes and you will reach the Kaeng Nyui Waterfall where you can marvel at the water rushing down the 30-meter drop. The crystal clear water collects at the base where you can spend a few hours frolicking. Entry costs 10,000 Kip.

Looking for more travel tips on visiting Laos? Head on over here!

2. Phangern Mountain Viewpoint

Vang Vieng View from Phangern Mountain 3

Looking for an amazing Vang Vieng viewpoint? Head to Phangern Mountain! The entrance for Phangern Mountain can be a little difficult to spot. From Vang Vieng town, cross the wooden bridge (you have to pay a toll, prices vary depending on what type of vehicle you have) and head west. About 3 KMs in, you will see a large blue wooden sign on the right for “Primary School Phone Ngeun Village”. Turn right down this path and keep driving around 200 meters to get to the starting point of the hike. Check out these little piglets we met on the path to the mountain!

Vang Vieng Phangern Mountain 1

The hike up is not well paved so you will need to wear proper shoes. There are signs that say the hike takes approximately 20 minutes, but it took us closer to 35 minutes with plenty of breaks – it was HOT!

Vang Vieng Phangern Mountain 2

There are two viewpoints at Phangern – once you’ve reached the first one, keep walking and follow a set of steps up to the summit where you are greeted with 1) a snack stand with icy cold beverages, and 2) panoramic views across the rice paddies and Avatar-like mountains. Honestly, I wanted to shoot myself half way up the mountain as it is not an easy hike (and I do not enjoy hiking), but the views made the trip worth it! Entry costs 10,000 Kip.

Vang Vieng View from Phangern Mountain 2

3. Tham Jang/Chang Cave

Vang Vieng Tham Jang Cave 2

Vang Vieng is home to dozens of caves – some spectacular, some not so much. If you only visit one cave while you are in Vang Vieng, make it this one! It is well known for its history as a bunker during an invasion in the 19th century, but many people skip it and visit the Tham Phu Kham Cave next to the Blue Lagoon instead.

It’s extremely easy to get to and will take just 10 minutes on a bicycle from Vang Vieng town. To get to Tham Jang Cave, head south from Vang Vieng town until you get to a fork in the road where you will see a sign for Jamee Guesthouse (KA272 on this map). Turn right down the dirt road and keep going until you reach the gate for Vang Vieng Resort. You’ll have to pay a small entry fee here to get in. Keep going until you see an orange bridge and park your bike.

Vang Vieng Tham Jang Cave 6

Cross the bridge and turn left, and the entrance to the cave will be about 200 meters ahead. Entry is 15,000 Kip, but also grants access to a small viewpoint here. Granted, the view is not remotely as picturesque as wall-to-wall rice paddies from the top of Phangern Mountain, but it’s still very beautiful (and much easier to get to).

Vang Vieng Tham Jang Cave Viewpoint 1

Once you are in the cave, the temperature drops significantly (a welcome change in the summer months) and you can wander around and explore the cave to your heart’s content. Unlike some of the other caves, Tham Jang is actually paved inside and well-lit.

Vang Vieng Tham Jang Cave 3

Another bonus: there is also a blue lagoon here that you can swim in! Head there in the morning to beat the crowds during peak season. No entry fee!

Vang Vieng Tham Jang Cave 5

Vang Vieng Tham Jang Cave 4

Where to eat and drink in Vang Vieng

Il Tavolo: When my friend told me there was an amazing Italian restaurant in Vang Vieng, I thought to myself, “yeah mm hmm okay sure.” That is until I tried the food at Il Tavolo. It is run by an Italian father-son duo and the food is as authentic as some of the best meals that we’ve had in Italy. Come and try their amazing wood-fired pizza and incredible arrabiata.

Chaleun: A laid-back local restaurant with almost every possible dish on the menu. Try the chicken satay, morning glory and pad thai. Oh and did I mention your meal comes with a free fruit shake?

Cafe eh eh: A small Australian-owned coffee shop next to the Elephant Crossing Hotel. Good coffee at reasonable prices, try the homemade kombucha as well!

Sabaidee Burger: Yummy burgers (albeit with slightly smaller paddies) with delicious hand cut chips.

Gary’s Irish Bar: Decent food (try the fish and chips) and good service with a quiet 2nd floor terrace. They also have a ping pong table if that’s your thing.

Sababa Organic Restaurant: A lovely little family-run restaurant next to Cafe eh eh. Try their pad thai!

And don’t forget about the dozens of sandwich and fruit shake roadside stalls! My favorite sandwich lady is right next to the Elephant Crossing Hotel/Cafe eh eh. $3 for a loaded bacon, egg and cheese sandwich in a baguette bun? Yes please!

Where to eat in Vang Vieng 2

Where to eat in Vang Vieng 1

Where to stay in Vang Vieng

Silver Naga Hotel: The Silver Naga sits right on the Nam Song River and has a variety of room options, an infinity pool and is home to Yoga in Vang Vang. I would recommend the pool view rooms with a balcony so you can watch the sun go down behind the mountains. Click here to book your stay at the Silver Naga Hotel!

Vang Vieng Nam Song River Silver Naga

Elephant Crossing Hotel: If you’re on a budget but still want the great view, check out the Silver Naga’s sister hotel just down the road. They also offer a sunset happy hour on the deck! Click here to book your stay at the Elephant Crossing Hotel!

Ready to book your stay? Click here for 10% off your booking!

Vang Vieng Nam Song River Silver Naga 3

Have you visited Vang Vieng? Tell me all about your stay in the comments section below! If you’re planning to visit Luang Prabang before or after your time in Vang Vieng, read this first!

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Yogawinetravel.com: 3 Places You Must Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren't the Blue Lagoon. Vang Vieng is an idyllic town in Laos located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Its most famous attraction is the Blue Lagoon, but did you know about these other incredible natural caves, waterfalls, mountains and lagoons in the area? Read on for how to get there, the best things to do in Vang Vieng and fantastic places to stay in this little town.

Yogawinetravel.com: 3 Places You Must Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren't the Blue Lagoon. Vang Vieng is an idyllic town in Laos located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Its most famous attraction is the Blue Lagoon, but did you know about these other incredible natural caves, waterfalls, mountains and lagoons in the area? Read on for how to get there, the best things to do in Vang Vieng and fantastic places to stay in this little town.

Yogawinetravel.com: 3 Places You Must Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren't the Blue Lagoon. Vang Vieng is an idyllic town in Laos located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Its most famous attraction is the Blue Lagoon, but did you know about these other incredible natural caves, waterfalls, mountains and lagoons in the area? Read on for how to get there, the best things to do in Vang Vieng and fantastic places to stay in this little town.

Yogawinetravel.com: 3 Places You Must Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren't the Blue Lagoon. Vang Vieng is an idyllic town in Laos located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Its most famous attraction is the Blue Lagoon, but did you know about these other incredible natural caves, waterfalls, mountains and lagoons in the area? Read on for how to get there, the best things to do in Vang Vieng and fantastic places to stay in this little town.

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42 Comments

  1. Soraya says:

    Stunning! I have only been to Luang Prabang and fell in love with Laos. I have yet to explore more of this country. Your photos are incredible! Phangern Viewpoint looks absolutely stunning – that view…wow! I can’t believe there are several places called Blue Lagoon – that must cause a lot of confusion! Thanks for sharing, I am saving this for my next trip to Laos!

    • Flo says:

      Laos has completely and utterly blown my mind! The people are amazing and the culture is so rich. I will definitely be back! It’s hilarious that there’s a Blue Lagoon I, II and III haha. But my favorite swimming spot is definitely at Tham Jang Cave!

  2. Rachael says:

    Wow! Vang Vieng looks beautiful! I would love to get to Laos. It seems like one of those countries that is still not overrun with tourists.

    • Flo says:

      Oh Rachel, you have to visit Laos! It has completely blown my mind – it has waterfalls, rice paddies, temples galore, amazing people and an incredibly rich culture!

  3. Hannah says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, I am hoping to make it to Laos next summer, eek! This past 2 years we have been able to take 3-4 weeks off and travel, so I am hoping we get to do this again next year and I plan to hit up Laos & Thailand…how long would you recommend to spend in Laos?

    • Flo says:

      Oh wow Hannah! That sounds like such a fun trip. I would say it depends on how much ground you want to cover – I was teaching for a month so didn’t travel down south to Pakse and the islands. If you’re hoping to hit up the main towns then I would say 2 weeks in Luang Prabang/Vang Vieng/Vientiane and perhaps Pakse would be good!

  4. Gina says:

    This guide is incredible and I will definitely be using it! I’m book marking it for later. Even during the rainy season Kaeng Nyui Waterfall looks incredible! Tham Jang is definitely on my radar for early morning of no crowds, incredible pictures and perfect scenery!

    • Flo says:

      Gina you have to visit Tham Jang! It’s seriously awesome – when we went a few days ago there was noone in the swimming hole except for 12 child monks – none of them could have been over 12, 13 years old. We waited for them to finish playing and leave before we got in (we had bikinis on). It was really lovey to hear the sound of their laughter!

  5. Danielle says:

    This place looks absolutely stunning! I’d only ever thought of the area of that tubing, partying, crazy-house. So glad to see that they have found a new way to attract us backpackers! And that blue lagoon you pictured, next to the cave, looks amazing!

  6. bee says:

    I would definitely love the waterfall and the cave

  7. Never realised just how gorgeous Laos is, your photos look amazing – it looks so green and lush! And that cave looks epic, like something straight out of The Goonies. Will be adding it to my ever-growing travel wish list!

  8. Courtney says:

    ‘Yes I am Pancake’ gave me a chuckle – haha! Vang Vieng looks like an incredible place to visit 🙂

  9. Kristen says:

    Laos looks amazing! I have never been, but I sure would love to go there someday. Your photos really inspired me to add it to my travel bucketlist. And what a great post! You have so much helpful information. I will have you talk to you whenever I am able to plan a trip over there 🙂

    • Flo says:

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Kristen! Vang Vieng is seriously amazing – in fact, Laos has completely blown my mind!

  10. Your blog post was a great inspiration to me. I’m thinking about going to Laos soon and am looking for some inspiration beyond Luang Prabang.

  11. Ann says:

    The times I went through Vang Vieng the drunken tubing was at its peak but outside of the centre there were so many amazing and mostly deserted things to explore. We went to these caves as well as some others another amazing cave that was an army hospital. It’s an amazing area to explore.

    • Flo says:

      Isn’t it just? For such a small town there is so much to see and do! And it’s right between Luang Prabang and Vientiane which makes it the perfect spot to stop for a few days!

  12. Allison says:

    What a fantastically detailed post. I love the waterfall and of course the ‘blue’ lagoon. This posts makes me want to jump on a plane to Laos immediately!

  13. Ferna says:

    Wow just wow. I’m planning to visit Laos next year before heading to Chiang Mai. And checking if I could visit this. Thanks for the tips will surely have our own maps too.

  14. Kassie says:

    Gosh I loved Laos so much. Vang Vieng was one of my favorite spots in the country for it’s chill but adventurous vibes. I wish I had known about that view point hike because the view definitely looks amazing! Maybe next time 🙂

  15. What a great and comprehensive guide!

  16. Abbi says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I have been put off Vang Vieng because of tales of drunk backpackers, but I am so happy to see there are lots more things to do. That waterfall looks stunning! Vang Vieng is definitely on my itinerary for SE Asia – when I finally make it there!

  17. Laos is such an incredible place!! the surroundings of Vang Vieng are just too beautiful! when i went to vang vieng it was to go tubing so we could have seen so much more than we did!! your post makes me want to add it to my list all over again and see it all again 🙂

  18. Tianyi says:

    I think I’m going to enjoy the hiking in this area, let alone the waterfalls and food

  19. Looks like a beautiful country!

  20. Stuart Kidder says:

    As I sit and write this, my daughter and I are looking west across the river at a stunning mountain range. We climbed to the Thang Jang (sp?) earlier today, and the view back east was amazing. The cool air as you enter the cave is so refreshing, because I was sweating profusely after climbing those stairs!
    If I could just rip up my plane tickets home…

    • Flo says:

      Those stairs are brutal! I hope you enjoy the rest of your time there, Stuart. If your thighs aren’t burning tomorrow I would recommend climbing Phangern Mountain as well!

  21. Vlada says:

    Finally I found useful article on VangVieng) good job. I wouldn’t say thatt Laos blew my mind especially compared to Myanmar or Индонезия Indonesia, But it certainly has very beautiful scenery. VangVieng reminds me of Guilin.

  22. Marc says:

    Excellent post! im planning a trip there soon and your post has really been helpful. thank u and keep up the amazing job!

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