Vang Vieng landscape in Laos

5 Places to Visit in Vang Vieng That Aren’t the Blue Lagoon

Blue swimming hole in Vang Vieng Laos with text overlay Woman at mountain viewpoint in Vang Vieng Laos with text overlay Woman in swimming pool with view of mountains in Vang Vieng Laos with text overlay Waterfall in Vang Vieng Laos with text overlay

Because Vang Vieng is a paradise for nature and adventure lovers! Read on for what to do in Vang Vieng and where to stay in Vang Vieng.

Vang Vieng is one of the best places to visit in Laos, but before Vang Vieng became a hub for adventure and outdoor sports it was famous for hosting drunken tubing excursions down the river.

Vang Vieng, Laos - January 21, 2017: Tourist enjoy tubing in Song River at Vang Viang, Laos.
Photo credit: mazzzur via

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!

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 from June to August.

Vang Vieng Blue Lagoon 1 during rainy season

It also tends to be extremely crowded (and isn’t even the only blue-coloured lagoon in the area – there are more than 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, especially if you are visiting during the off-peak season. You can also read this article on 14 things you should do in Vang Vieng!

Things to know before you visit Vang Vieng in Laos

✈️ You can get to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang or Vientiane. It is possible to apply for a visa on arrival in Laos at both airports for most nationalities – bring 1 passport photo and US dollars for the application fee. The Laos visa-on-arrival fee is 40 USD, and in general the Laos tourist visa is good for 30 days. You can also apply for your Laos e-Visa ahead of time here, however the fee varies according to nationality and takes several days to process.

📱 You can get a local Laos SIM card at the airport for very cheap, and internet connectivity is surprisingly strong.

🗺️ 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.

Lao Kip currency

💱 The currency is the Lao Kip, and the exchange rate varies from approximately 18,000-20,000 LAK: 1 USD these days (when we visited a few years ago it was 8,000 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.

🌤️ The best time to visit Vang Vieng is from around October to March (you can even go hot air ballooning over Vang Vieng during this season). The summer months can be miserable with torrential downpour, but it does mean that the rice paddies are lush and beautiful to photograph during this season! If you are hoping to go tubing or kayaking you will want to avoid visiting during the thick of rainy season as the Nam Song River becomes very rough.

Looking for more Southeast Asia travel tips? Click here for 10 things you should know before you visit Southeast Asia!

Where to stay in Vang Vieng

Riverside Boutique Resort is the crème de la crème when it comes to boutique hotels in Vang Vieng. This stunning property features traditional Lao-inspired artwork and furnishing, in an incredibly classy and laid-back setting. The pool with mountain views is to die for, and the on-site restaurant serves up some of the best food I had in Laos. Click here to check availability and rates at Riverside Boutique Resort.

Inthira Vang Vieng Laos

Inthira Vang Vieng is a newer boutique hotel in town that offers spacious and tastefully decorated rooms, bathrooms with wonderful water pressure and helpful staff. Make sure you budget some time to lay by the pool and enjoy a delicious cocktail or two while you watch the sun go down! If you are looking for a more upscale and modern hotel in Vang Vieng, click here to see current rates at Inthira Vang Vieng.

The Silver Naga Hotel also 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!

How to get to Vang Vieng

High speed train in Laos

🚅 As of 2023, the quickest and most comfortable way to get to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang or Vientiane is to take the new Laos-China high speed rail. There are several daily fast trains which will take you to Vang Vieng from Vientiane or Luang Prabang in approximately 1 hour. The trains and stations are brand new and very punctual, however you won’t be able to bring any aerosols, e-cigarettes and other prohibited items on board.

High speed train in Laos second class

Tickets can be purchased 3 days in advance from the LCR Ticket app, the official app of the railway company (more details here) but you need a Laos SIM card. Alternatively, save yourself some time and energy and get in touch with Discover Laos Today which has an office next to the Silver Naga hotel – you can Whatsapp them at +856 20 93 445 358 and ask them for updated train schedules (the timings can and do change periodically) and purchase your ticket on your behalf. They will need a copy of your passport, and then they will send you a QR code to board the train.

Alternatively, you can also purchase your Laos train tickets online via, however you will need to pick up your tickets from a restaurant near the train station. Read more about what to expect aboard the high speed train in Laos.

VIP bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

🚌 You can also take a large bus (AKA “VIP bus”) or minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, or you can take a bus or minivan from Vientiane to Vang Vieng. Buses run from Vientiane (drive takes ~4 hours) and Luang Prabang (drive takes ~5-7 hours) every day. Get your hotel to book your bus ticket for you, or simply walk into any travel agent in Luang Prabang or Vientiane to purchase your ticket – prices are fairly standard across the board. Here is the Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng bus schedule and Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang and Vientiane bus schedule (times and prices may vary slightly, make sure you double check once you are in town)

The VIP bus is not as luxurious as the name might suggest, but it ain’t that bad either. The bus makes a few stops midway for a toilet and food break, but you’ll want to make sure that you go to the bathroom before you hop on. However, things can go sideways if the bus breaks down – during our last trip, the bus broke down 3 times and our 6-hour bus ride turned into the 13-hour journey from hell.

I have not taken the shared minivans in Laos, but from what I hear they are packed like sardines and can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if you are prone to motion sickness – your best bet is to stick to the high speed train or VIP buses.

The buses travel along fairly windy roads and the bus journey can take an extra hour longer when it rains, so pop a Dramamine tablet before you hop on. Buy your ticket at the local bus depot or from one of the many tour agencies around town.

Once you arrive in Vang Vieng, you can hop in a shared tuk tuk to get to your hotel.

🚗 You can also hire a private van for approximately US$75 from Vientiane or US$150-200+ from Luang Prabang. Enquire directly with your hotel or Discover Laos Today.

Visiting Luang Prabang before or after Vang Vieng? Head on over here for 9 of the best things to do in Luang Prabang (and what you might want to skip!)

How to get around Vang Vieng

Tuk tuks in Vang Vieng Laos

You can easily get around Vang Vieng town on foot, but if you’re hoping to get over to the rice paddies, blue lagoons and waterfall then you’ll want to rent a bicycle or scooter. Alternatively, you can also rent a desert buggy.

E scooter rental in Vang Vieng Laos

You can expect to pay approximately 180-200,000 Kip (~US/Euro 9-10) to rent an e-scooter for the day, a little less if you are hiring a petrol scooter. I recommend popping into Discover Laos Today to enquire about renting an e-scooter, or this shop to rent a regular scooter/motorbike.

Tuk tuks in Vang Vieng Laos

There are lots of tuk tuks that are available for hire – just make sure you agree on a price before you hop in.

Unmissable places to visit in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng Laos drone photo

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 Kyui Waterfall in Vang Vieng Laos

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.

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.

As of early 2024 you may encounter a road sign that says the road is under construction until August 2024 – recent visitors have reported that you can still enter beyond that sign but you will need to drive cautiously.

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

2. Phangern Mountain Viewpoint

Looking for an amazing Vang Vieng viewpoint? Head to Phangern Mountain – hiking to the top is one of the best things to do in Vang Vieng. 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. 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 40-45 minutes each way with plenty of breaks – it was HOT!

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 20,000 Kip. Tell the tuk tuk driver that you want to go to “Phangern”, “Pha Ngern”, “Phangeun” or “Silver Cliff” viewpoint – they’ll know what you’re referring to.

Ready to book your Vang Vieng trip? The Riverside Boutique Resort is my top pick for a luxury hotel in Vang Vieng. The stunning and perfectly clean rooms offer a balcony or terrace, and the restaurant serves up amazing food. Click here to check rates and availability at Riverside Boutique Resort.

Stay at Inthira Vang Vieng for modern rooms (select one that has a balcony) and a pool overlooking the Nam Song river and karst mountains. Click here to see current rates at Inthira Vang Vieng.

Alternatively, you might also look into availability down the road at The Silver Naga Hotel. It is one of the original hotels in Vang Vieng and also boasts a riverside location. While the rooms are a little more dated, it also has an infinity pool and outdoor terrace with a view, as well as daily Yoga classes. Click here to book your stay at The Silver Naga.

3. Nam Xay Viewpoint

Nam Xay Viewpoint in Vang Vieng Laos

If you ask someone where the best viewpoint in Vang Vieng is, you’ll get a number of differing opinions: Nam Xay viewpoint is another stunning place to check out Vang Vieng from above. In comparison to the Phangern hike, Nam Xay is slightly easier and shorter and will only take you approximately 20-25 minutes to get to the top. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with 360-degree views.

Nam Xay Viewpoint in Vang Vieng Laos

Though the hike starts out well paved, towards the end you will need to crawl on all fours up boulders and rocks. Be careful where you step as the path can be very muddy and slippery.

Nam Xay Viewpoint in Vang Vieng Laos

Entry costs 20,000 Kip. Tell the tuk tuk driver that you want to go to “Nam Sai” viewpoint, or tell him to drive towards Blue Lagoon 1 and take a left at the fork in the road instead of the path on the right which will lead you to the lagoon.

Ready to book your Vang Vieng trip? The Riverside Boutique Resort is my top pick for a luxury hotel in Vang Vieng. Click here to check rates and availability at Riverside Boutique Resort.

Stay at Inthira Vang Vieng for modern rooms and a pool overlooking the Nam Song river and karst mountains. Click here to see current rates at Inthira Vang Vieng.

You might also look into availability at The Silver Naga Hotel just next door. It is one of the original hotels in Vang Vieng and also boasts a riverside location. Click here to book your stay at The Silver Naga.

4. Tham Jang/Chang Cave

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! Tham Jang 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 (it has since been repainted blue) and park your bike. 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 Vang Vieng 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).

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.

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!

Looking for even more things to do in Vang Vieng? Head on over here for 14 must-do’s in the adventure capital of Laos!

5. Blue Lagoon 3 or 4

Blue Lagoon 3 in Vang Vieng Laos

Ok, ok, so I know this list is supposed to include places in Vang Vieng that AREN’T the Blue Lagoon, but Blue Lagoon 3 and Blue Lagoon 4 deserve a spot because it is nowhere near as crowded or busy as Blue Lagoon 1.

Blue Lagoon 4 in Vang Vieng Laos

Both are approximately an hour away from town by tuk tuk, but during the peak season the water is beautiful and offers far few tourists as well as a number of fun swings and zip lines.

Blue Lagoon 3 in Vang Vieng Laos

If you only have time to visit 1 blue lagoon in Vang Vieng, make it one of these! Entry costs 20,000 Kip at #3 and 10,000 Kip at #4.

Read more about the different blue lagoons in Vang Vieng here, including the differences between them and why I love Blue Lagoon 3!

Ready to book your adventure in Vang Vieng? Check into Riverside Boutique Resort for stunning rooms and a luxury stay. You can also consider Inthira Vang Vieng for modern rooms and a pool overlooking the Nam Song river and karst mountains. You might also look into availability at The Silver Naga Hotel just next door – it also boasts a riverside location as well as daily Yoga classes.

Where to eat and drink in Vang Vieng

Riverside Boutique Hotel in Vang Vieng Laos restaurant food

There are plenty of restaurants in Vang Vieng to choose from. Here are some of the best places to check out.

Restaurant du Crabe d’Or: The in-house restaurant at Riverside Boutique Resort is top notch, offering a huge range of Lao and western-style dishes. You really can’t go wrong with this – especially when your lunch comes with this view.

Khop Chai Deu: This is the in-house restaurant at Inthira Vang Vieng which is best known for its traditional Lao-style food. The outdoor area is gorgeous and the cocktails are fantastic too.

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?

Naked Espresso Vang Vieng: A small Australian-owned coffee shop next to the Silver Naga Hotel.

Gary’s Irish Bar: Every town has an Irish pub, and Vang Vieng in Laos is no exception! 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.

Where to eat in Vang Vieng sandwiches

And don’t forget about the dozens of sandwich and fruit shake roadside stalls! $3 for a loaded sandwich in a baguette bun? Yes please!

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 recommend staying at Riverside Boutique Resort, Inthira Vang Vieng, the Silver Naga Hotel or the Elephant Crossing Hotel. All three hotels are located in the heart of Vang Vieng town.

Told you there were great things to do in Vang Vieng besides the Blue Lagoon! Have you visited Vang Vieng in Laos? Tell me all about your stay in the comments section below!

You might also enjoy these guides:

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My stay at Inthira Vang Vieng was hosted; however, no compensation was received for the review, and as always, the opinions on are (and always will be) my own!

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  1. I really wasn’t sure what there was to do in Laos at all but this is one of the best blog posts I’ve come across…like ever! So helpful. Thanks so much.

  2. Thank you so much for this – we are about to go and all of your pictures and advice is so clear and easy to follow 🙂

    1. Hi Sasha, thanks for taking the time to read this and I’m so happy to hear that you found this article helpful! Enjoy your trip to Vang Vieng!

  3. Amazing & Helpful post will do the hike as well 🙂 just curious who took your photos? 🙂

  4. Hi! Thanks for the tips, great pictures! I am planning on going to Vang Vieng in two weeks (currently in Vientiane), I will definitly do the 2 viewpoints, the tham jang cave and maybe the blue lagoon 3. I’m just wondering about the Kaeng Nyui waterfall, do you thing it is worth doing considering it’s gonna be in May (Im afraid its gonna be dry).


    1. Hi Alex, Kaeng Kyui is unlikely to be roaring in May. I would recommend that you get to Vang Vieng first, and then play it by ear – ask around and see if any other travelers have been recently and see what they have to say!

  5. i think van prices fro luang to vang vieng are out dated. cheapest rates i got was 115,000 kip. normal bus was 150,000 and 180,000 for vip.. let me know if i am wrong. i am writing this from Luang after asking several agents here..

    1. Unmesh, it’s possible prices have gone up by 1-2 US dollars in the last 3 months, which is why you will need to ask around and pay what you’re comfortable with. Perhaps you should ask your hotel what rates they recommend. Good luck with your journey.

  6. I spent 3 weeks in Laos this summer and I had a great time, it was monsoon season so not the best time to visit. I’d love to go back in peak season. Either way Vang vieng was stunning!

  7. Why weren’t you able to swim at the kuang si waterfall? I’m planning a trip to include Laos just to see this waterfall! But I’m gonna be bummed if I can even swim in it :/

  8. Found your site on Pinterest!

    I only had 24 hours in Vang Vieng (it was part of a jam-packed Thailand-Laos-Vietnam 11-day itinerary) and wanted to go back! It’s just so00 beautiful.

    That view of the rice paddies is gorgeous 🙂

    1. Hi Gie! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Vang Vieng is really stunning, I hope its reputation as an eco-adventure destination continues to soar!

  9. Hi Flo!! Thank you this amazing article and cool tips :). If you don’t mind I would love to ask you some questions. In Laos I want to see vientiane, van vieng, luang prabang and maybe the Elephants camp (a sustainable and real one, no the touristic trap that mistreats animals) – which one you think I should go?. How many days you think I need to see all of this? Do you think I am missing some crucial place? And I would love to have a spiritual experience, is one of the reasons why I choose Laos. So I am not definitely searching for party and drinks.
    also, I would love to try some yoga there 🙂

    Thank you and warm regards!!

    1. Hi Filipa, thanks for taking the time to read this. I have personally NOT been to this one as it may have only opened after my trip, but I hear good things about Mandaolao, a non-riding elephant camp:

      You shouldn’t really need more than 2-3 days in Luang Prabang, 2-3 days in Vang Vieng and 1-2 days in Vientiane. You can practice Yoga in Luang Prabang (there are several studios) and also in Vang Vieng here:

      Have a great trip!

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

  11. 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.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I have yet to visit Myanmar but I’ve heard amazing things. I did love Luang Prabang though!

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