“Let’s go to Vangvieng. I’ve always wanted to go there for a long time!” and many words came out of his mouth, trying to persuade me to join his trip which he promoted that it will be very tough with very low budget for the entire trip. “We’ll use only 2,500 Baht for the whole trip! Now what would you say?”
I replied with one sentence, “Yes, I’m in.”
Well, my answer probably surprised my friend a bit since he spent lots of time talking and convincing me. Vangvieng is always one of my dream destinations so I have no reason why I had to deny.
Vangvieng is a part of Vientiane City which is the capital city of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Since the culture, language and people between Thai and Laos are so similar, including that both are located just next to each other, we are like siblings. Just a small little tiny difference which is that Thais adore western culture so bad while Lao are quite more conservative in their own way of life. Anyway, this is just only my opinion though, from a Thai girl who has been to Vientiane only once and she was only 10 years old back then.
As we announced at the beginning that this trip was going to be a super low-budget, there was no plane in our plan for sure. We started our journey from Hua Lampong Rail Station with Express train number 77 taking us from Bangkok to Udon Thani with only 245 THB each. We arrived ON TIME and then walked to the bus station. Tickets from Udon Thani to Vangvieng will be sold at 6.30 a.m, one round a day and only 40 seats.
So the sooner you get to the bus station, the better you got a good seat. Otherwise, you have to buy a ticket from Udon Thani to Vientiane first, then take another bus to Vangvieng which will take you on a longer journey. Of course, it might be a good plan if you want to stop by and some times in Vientiane first. It is totally up to your plan.
The bus left around 8.30 a.m. We arrived in Vangvieng in the evening so after checking in the hotel, we just wandered around. What we do so that we can travel around — like really AROUND, we rent a bike! The rental shop will give you an easy map of the town as well so you don’t have to worry about the directions. So here we go! The best 3 places I recommend you that you really shouldn’t miss when you are in Vangvieng.
The Blue Lagoon
Of course, how can anyone miss this place, right? It’s like the highlight of Vangvieng and you can find it included in every one-day trip program. Blue Lagoon is situated around 7 kilometers away from the center, about 20 minutes by motorcycle and 10 minutes by car. Don’t forget to check the leaving time and venue of the meeting point as well if you buy a one-day trip so that you won’t miss the bus. (Mostly, it’ll be around 8.30 in front of the agency office.) The admission fee is 15.000 Kip per person with tire and life vest service provided for you to rent as well.
I must say that swimming around, playing with those friendly fish and, most importantly, jumping from the 10-meter height tree is truly awesomely a great experience!
Besides the crystal clear lagoon that is waiting for you to enjoy, they also provide anther service called “zip line”. I didn’t try this one but seemed like it was very popular among Korean tourists. They will have zip line equipment for you, then walk up to the mountain around 5 minutes. As I observed, you will fly over the limestone mountains and the Blue Lagoon, see the rice fields and local people working in the farm. Sounds fantastic in a sense.
You can also explore the cave there too, just right next to the Blue Lagoon which is called Phu Kham Cave. The way up is a bit steep but it isn’t that hard to climb. It’s quite dark inside the cave so better take a torch or you can rent one at the shop for 10.000 Kip. Once you walk in there, you will see a statue of Buddha lying in the middle of the cave with mind-blowing stalactite and stalagmite surrounding. It is very amazing how nature could create such a grand place like this.
TIPS: It will be very crowded if you go there during the long holidays or even in the late morning. (I was in Vangvieng during Labor’s Day Holidays. We arrived there around 7 o’clock and when we came down from the cave, it was really full of people!) So to travel there, I still recommend you to rent a motorbike and go there in the early morning to avoid the crowd and fully enjoy the atmosphere around.
Pha Ngern (Silver Cliff)
Pha Ngern or the Silver Cliff in English is another place you shouldn’t miss. The way to get there is the same way as the Blue Lagoon but you need to turn right before. (Notice the sign written “Silver Cliff… the top view of Vangvieng” and some Laos language on your right hand after around 20 minutes from the city.) Probably besides the beautiful sunrise there, we think another reason why they called it Silver Cliff must be because of the stones of the mount which are all in dark grey.
The admission fee is 10.000 Kip per person. But we went there very early morning and nobody’s there to collect our money so let’s say we went up there for free. We left the hotel at 4.30 a.m. and get to the foothill at 5. It took around 45 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. And as we wanted to see the sunrise in time, we were pretty hurried to get to the top which was a steep way up of 850 meters height. It was extremely exhausted but worth it! We can see the whole town of Vangvieng and other mountains surrounded so we just sat there and enjoyed the sun slowly rising in a cool weather which was a truly memorable and incomparable moment ever.
TIPS: Mask and glasses (it is very dusty on the way to the cliff so better have a mask and glasses to cover your nose and eyes.) Sneakers (For climbing up the hill.) And.. Water!
There’re many bars, of course, in Vangvieng but it’s pretty obvious that Sakura Bar is the most popular one. Imagine Khao San Road in Bangkok got The Club, Then Vangvieng got Sakura Bar for the nightlife hub of backpackers. I don’t understand why but it’s kind of a must that everyone has to be there. Sakura Bar will be full of people even in the early of the night since they have special free drink promotion from 7-9 pm. and after that.. just let the party begins!
Honestly for me, it’s not that impressive to hang out there. Maybe I’ve been to Khao San Road too often that Sakura Bar seems to have nothing exciting for me. It was crowded. People went crazy dancing on the table. Music wasn’t that cool. Cocktails wasn’t that strong. (again, all these are my personal opinion.) But it was a nice experience anyway to meet various kinds of travelers, getting to know each other and exchanging information. Some got new traveling partners just to put your phone away and start saying ‘hello’ to the person sitting next to you!
TIPS: Well, I think you already know this. Drink hard and PARTY HARDER, guys! But remember! You’re abroad and getting drunk so be responsible for yourself. And please.. Don’t puke to anyone’s shoes! (I found some on my sandals in the morning. Thanks to whoever they are. I got new sandals from Vangvieng now!)
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