Elevation: 803 ft
GPS: 18.9485, 102.4479
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Shared By: Ryan Kelly on Jan 13, 2010 · Updates
Admins: moredaysoff


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.

Four hours mini bus trip, north of the border capital Vientiane. Vang Vieng has a huge tourist population but the local activity doesn’t so much involve negotiating rapids as it does in getting drunk. The antics are drawing backpackers from all over Asia and it has done wonders for the economy of the small town. With that comes an abundance of cheap guesthouses, eats, bars, and tuk-tuks.

There are three main climbing areas in Vang Vieng, the closest being a quick hike to the mountains on the other side of the river, and the farthest a (worthwhile) 20 minute moto-ride a few towns down. The potential for new development is limitless.
Adams Climbing School offers good climbing courses and also rents equipment. The shop also sells chalk, climbing shoes, ropes and quick draws.

Getting There

Vang Vieng is a relatively quick four 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. You could buy Laos visas on arrival for $40 USD. 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, this will probably go up in peak season. I was also able to find a new bungalow right on the river for 70,000; worth every kip.

Climbing Supplies

As of June 2020 there is in Vang Vieng the original Adam’s Rock Climbing School.  Still owned by Adam, who is a climber and a local Lao who runs an honest self-started business; he’s also one of the main developers in the area. His shop is a great place to stop and get the local beta, pick up a guidebook, hire a guide, rent equipment, take a how to rock climb course or ;buy climbing shoes, chalk, rope, and quick draws.

Dangers and Annoyances

 The law in Laos has a habit of looking the other way to illegal activities that earn income for locals, and that includes trafficking. It is a $700 on the spot fine, or go to jail for 3 months. 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. And that goes for the ‘Happy Shakes’ and ‘Happy Pizzas’, those are not the same mushrooms that you get at Pizza Hut.

There are many ATM sites in town.

The government clamped down on the drugs and partying in 2013. However, beer and other hard alcohol is still readily available. It is still a beautiful place with great climbing, but it is no longer party central.

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