Despite the fog it totally took my breath away and I knew I was going to like Vang Vieng. We had an incredibly laid back first day in town, mainly chilling out in one of the many Friends bars, yeah, you read that right, dotted around town. Vang Vieng is a very traveller orientated town and what do travellers like to do? Lounge around eating, drinking beer and watching TV apparently. After two whole months away from TV I couldn't resist. Friends is one of my favourite shows and these places also sell fresh mango shakes. Yum town!
That evening I watched the sun set from the balcony and marvelled at the fact that the sky can be such a ridiculous colour. So pretty.
Our hotel were pretty wonderful when it came to breakfast and they happily whipped us up some egg free fried rice (it was already meat/fish sauce free) to go with the vegan baguettes, jam and bananas that were available. This is definitely going above and beyond what most of the places we've stayed at so far have managed.
They did the same with a noodle dish the next morning which was a great start to the day. If your hotel has breakfast included in the room rate I'd definitely recommend letting them know your dietary requirements either in advance via email or at check in, that way they have time to help you if they want to and you have nothing to lose, you're paying for it anyway! Laos Haven also have a pair of pretty kitties living at the hotel. They weren't into being petted but they were beautiful to look at and enjoyed playing with our keys and headphone cords whilst we were checking in!
On our first full day in Vang Vieng we got up semi-early to beat the crowds going tubing. Our guide book said that the party on the river starts around midday so we figured 10am would be a better time to go and we were so right!
After a couple of false starts Nick and I managed to get our shit together so that we were tubing in-sync rather than floating quickly downstream meters apart. It's actually surprisingly hard to do and involved me falling out of my tube and Nick holding onto a bridge for dear life waiting for me to catch up. I am not coordinated at all so I'll bet this was pretty hilarious to watch!
Once we'd mastered holding onto each others tubes / hands we spent the most gorgeous few hours tubing down the river. Vang Vieng is SO stunning and I can't believe anyone thinks that drinking at the bars dotted along the river is a necessary or enhancing part of this experience.
Vegan food wise Vang Vieng is pretty meh but you aren't going to starve. We pretty much just ate at Veggie Tables, the only veg spot in town, every time we fancied cooked food and otherwise relied on fruit and snacks from local marts.
We tried a couple of Thai dishes for dinner one night, a fried rice dish and this noodle dish with veggies and mushrooms.
These were both filling but kinda bland, heavy on the rice / noodles and pretty light on the veggies. The falafel and pita plate we tried there was okay, good bread, semi-decent hummus and it's best that we don't talk about the falafel themselves.
This breakfast plate turned out to be the best thing they make IMO which is not a great compliment when the meal in question involves heating up packaged food.
I do love a veggie sausage though and this was good fuel for mine and Nick's afternoon adventure to the Blue Lagoon. Our tuk tuk journey there was fun and it was enjoyable going through villages and peeking into local life. If it had been less hot we'd definitely have rented mountain bikes to do the 7km journey.
The blue lagoon is fun from a people watching perspective and less fun from an actually swimming perspective. There really isn't any room to swim because there are people freaking everywhere!
I bobbed about in the water for a bit whilst I mustered the courage to join in with the excitement of jumping off of the tree's branches into the water.
Everyone was doing it, small kids, older Chinese tourists, people who clearly couldn't swim, women in cute dresses who'd just kick off their shoes, throw their handbags on the ground and go for it, but I'm still a bit of a wuss when it comes to anything involving water. It probably took me about an hour to work up the courage! I was super glad that I did it though, mainly because it proves that I'm chipping away at my water phobia bit by bit. I'm remembering to be proud of that rather than annoyed that I haven't plucked up the courage to learn to dive yet. I'll get there!
One minor phobia I've nailed is going to the hairdresser! I couldn't justify bringing my clippers along on this trip because I'm only travelling with a hand luggage sized backpack so I've had to brave a couple of barbers along the way. I'm glad my hairstyle's pretty low maintenance!
Post-hair cut street snacks, this actually might have been the best thing I ate in Vang Vieng. I love corn on the cob and this was super simple, straight up BBQ'd, husks on, no embellishments. Yum.
I would definitely recommend swinging through Vang Vieng if you're travelling in Laos. Even if participating in abhorrent drinking culture isn't your thing (one bar actually has a sign outside that says "Drink Triple, See Double, Act Single". Gross.) the natural beauty of the area is unmissable and it seems far less destroyed by tourism than Pai in Thailand. I'll be back next time with my take on Luang Prabang and some tips on how to get there from Vang Vieng in the least barf inducing way. Oh and, speaking of barf inducing things, if you've been following my adventures in getting sick abroad on Instagram I'm totally getting better and hope to be continuing the adventure soon!