Other than a full-moon party, it’s hard to think of anything more stereotypical for backpackers in Southeast Asia to do than tube down the river in Vang Vieng, Laos. And it’s definitely a good time.
As in other places, we intended to stay in Vang Vieng for three days, a week later, we finally left. It’s easy to get stuck in a place like this, and we met up with a ton of friends we had made in Vietnam two months earlier, so it was difficult to just leave. As one friend back home commented,
Be careful, or you’ll wake up in thirty years and realize you never left and are still working at bucket bar
After spending three days just tubing, I feel like the best way to explain the experience is to share my lovely step-by-step guide on How to Tube in Vang Vieng.
- Only bring the necessities: a bathing suit, a dry bag for money (they sell them everywhere), money, and clothing to cover-up while in town (I opted for a long tank top).
- Go to the tubing station: just follow the trail of backpackers in bathing suits.
- Rent a tube: 55000kip for the tube (roughly $7) and 60000kip deposit gets you a tube and a free tuk-tuk ride up to the drop off.
- Get to first bar: most people just walk, it’s about 100m to the bar.
- Grab a couple beverages: 2 for 1 wiskey and coke? Yep.
- Earn a bracelet: at each bar you get 1 bracelet for each drink you have.
- Grab a beverage for the road (river?), hop in your tube, head to second bar: spend most of your time here, playing beer pong, hula-hooping, playing bocce ball and enjoying the music.
- Grab a beverage for the river, hop in your tube and head to third bar: repeat as above
- Decide: do you want to tube all the way back to town (about 2 hours on the river)? Or would you rather stay until dark, and grab a $1.25 tuk-tuk back into town? Both are good options.
- Follow as per your decision: if you decide to tube all the way, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get back. We left at 4:30 on day and still hadn’t made it back by dark, and wound up pulling out early to avoid getting lost.
Ta-da! You’ve just enjoyed a lovely day of tubing!