The flight from Hanoi to Vientiane was less than 50 mins, we took a flight after reading some horrible stories about the bus journey from Northern Vietnam into Laos. When we arrived at our hotel, we were gagging for some food, so we took a stroll and instantly realised that this capitol city was very different from the others. There weren’t 2,000 mopeds racing around the streets, in fact there were only a handful. Vientiane felt like a very small and quiet city, much like a mute lap dog compared to HCMC or Hanoi’s growling rottweiler.
We only had one full day here, mainly because we would rather spend our time in smaller towns with a more nature feel. So what did we do? As always we walked 500 miles hitting up some cafes, shops and restaurants along the way. We took a sunny walk by the Mekong River which runs through the timid city.
Then went to see the national monument, where there was a converse skate team photoshoot going on which was cool. I was happy to make a photoshoot of the photoshoot.
The monument was more impressive than we expected, we also saw the royal palace and numerous Wat type temples. We had a nice day but that’s all the time we really needed here. We read that lots of people think it’s a boring city, but it’s not really if you stay there just for a day.
We booked our bus to Vang Vieng the next town on most tourist’s hit list.
Vang Vieng is like a recovering alcoholic and drug user in denile. Once renowned for its epic party and tubing culture (by you guessed it, us Western folk) and now, due to deaths and a police clamp down, is transforming to a quieter city with lots of empty guesthouses and bars. It’s still trying to hang in to its former glories with many of the bars offering free shots, even though there’s no one else in the bar.
Night one we slung back some cheap whiskey and LaoLao (Laos homemade spirit) in the Jungle bar where we heard that a bar called the Full Moon bar was the place to go. So like we were 21 again, we headed to that bar. The bar was full of transvestites, not many customers and one very drunk barmaid who loved to dish out the free shots (maybe so we all caught up with her). I must have had four free shots with my first beer. You will be offered all sorts of drugs here on a curled up ‘secret’ menu, on sale was Marijuana, Mushrooms and Opium, but beware as the Local PD are often there undercover to bust you with a $500 corruption fine. Easy money from stupid kids.
The next day I was a little hung over from the shitty shots I was slinging back. Katie after Cat Ba Island’s hangover day took it steady, so she was OK. We wanted to go to the Blue Lagoon, but due to the drinking we didn’t have the energy and moped rentals were pretty expensive. We walked around the town and ended up in one of the many cafes where you can watch episodes of ‘Friends’ all day. These aren’t standard cafes but ones where you almost lie down which makes sense because the kids are generally hungover or spaced out and want to chill.
Vang Vieng is a cool little city going through some change, if we had one more day there we would have hit up the Blue Lagoon so if you are visiting here make sure you allow for at least one hangover day. Then you can make more time for exploring the surrounding natural beauties.
Stephen and Katie