Hiding in the mist that endlessly covers the mountainous landscape, this once sleepy town resting on the side of the Nom Som river has blossomed into an all-out no-rules party palace to rival that of Ko Pha Ngan’s full moon party. If you’re able to break away from the party scene long enough to sober up you’ll find plenty of activities around town like trekking, kayaking, mountain biking, and of course, climbing.
Vang Vieng is a relatively quick 3 hour bus ride from the capital Vientiane, the main entrance point in Laos. Vientiane is a very comfortable, and cheap, overnight sleeper train ride from Bangkok. Despite what the travel agencies in Bangkok will tell you, as of summer ’09 you could buy Laos visas on arrival for $30 US. Group up with some fellow tourists and share a ride into town (Vientiane), and from there any travel agency can get you to Vang Vieng.
There are a ton of low budget options in town, but some over-priced ones too. You’ll probably be harassed by touts on motos as soon as you hit the streets with a backpack. As a rule of thumb I always check out three (3) places before committing. Best travel tip I can offer. I was there in the wet season and could find plenty of places for 50,000 kip ($6) without AC (which I recommend if there to climb), this will probably go up in peak season. I was also able to score a brand new bungalow right on the river for 70,000; worth every kip.
There are two main climbing shops as of summer ’09 but I’m sure there will be more soon. Green Discovery is a typical outdoor adventure outfit and takes herds of noobs to the local wall to pull them up topropes. As is typical in these parts, Green Discovery attempted to “buy out” the local cliff – paying the farmer some money so that they can say that nobody other than their guests can climb there, even the FAs. I make it a point to shun these operations.
Dangers and Annoyances
Drugs are easy to come by in VV, but don’t mistake that for tolerance. I don’t believe it’s in the scope of this website to discuss such issues, however the police help maintain this scam so I feel it’s worth pointing out. Not that climbers ever use illicit substances. The law in Laos has a habit of looking the other way to illegal activities that earn income for locals, and that includes trafficking. However, they seem to materialize out of the smoke when a group of westerners light up a joint. It’s a $700 on the spot fine, or go to jail for 3 months, no appeal. Like everywhere in Southeast Asia, if there’s money to be made there are scam artists in on the take. So if you happen to find yourself in this situation demand to see a badge and insist on going to the station to pay your fine. Use your head. And that goes for the ‘Happy Shakes’ and ‘Happy Pizzas’, those aren’t the same mushrooms that you get at Pizza Hut.
Browse More Classics in Vang Vieng
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Vang Vieng:
Adam and the Electricians 5.8 Sport, 1 pitch, 40 feet Pha Deang Mountain : Left Wall of Pha Daeng Moun...
Featured Route For Vang Vieng
Welcome to the Jungle 5.11+ International : Asia : ... : Sector Millepede
This aptly named climb starts down in the green and boulders out over a bulge to the wall proper. Continue up thin face to a large tuffa (that seeps heavily in the rain) and then onto to more thin face to the anchor. Fun moves if a bit delicate up top. The friction moves across the tuffa are incredibly difficult when wet hence I'll just call it 5.11+....[more] Browse More Classics in International