Among backpackers in Vang Vieng, Laos

Last modified 10.03.2022 | Published 02.07.20092000's, Laos, South and Southeast Asia, Travelogue

Est. reading time:

Being among backpackers in Vang Vieng, Laos, what was wrong? Entering a backpacker’s haven on my own, twenty years older then the rest and what more? 

In 2009 I spent a week in Laos and the next week in Cambodia. In a series of six articles I am offering transcripts of my travel diary, a lot of photos and several videos.


Thursday 2.7.2009, Vientiane – Vang Vieng

A diary is nice to have. It is Saturday evening when I’m writing this and I have almost forgotten about Thursday.

But: I was picked up at my guest house by a minibus which fed a larger a/c buss. Alright standard. Only backpackers. 10 USD. One pause on the way on a trip that was to last 4-5 hours.

First we went northwards on flat plains, then into a mountainous area to idyllic Vang Vieng.

I had from my guidebooks picked out a couple of possible places by the river to stay, and ended up on the first and best along the road.

  • ELEPHANT’S CROSSING: Expensive and lovely at 42 USD. Elegant, tasteful, fantastic view from my third floor balcony. Breakfast included. Lots of lacquered wood and everyone’s smiling. I got my vacation feeling.

Mentioning smiling: Here it is sabadi (hello) with a smile everywhere you walk. It looks real as well.


The view from the room over the river is towards the famous mountains of this area. The kind of rock is called limestone karst. Slim, high peaks are the key words. Reminds me a little of Guilin in Southern China. Visiting the many grottos is popular, as is tube rafting or canoeing down the river. I dropped both as I was only staying this one night before continuing to Luang Prabang tomorrow.

I had a good shower before I went into town for lunch.

The town is rather small, a few streets and nothing in particular to see. There are a number of eateries and guest-houses, 2-3 storeys at the most. It is the surroundings which have made this town known.


Vang Vieng is a backpacker port de lux. Here there is happy-hour around the clock. Yelling Australians and other people in groups shout and drink. Or get drugs of different sorts mixed into drinks and food. Magic! This is nothing for a single man in his forties.

One of the worst things the guide-books describe is these sofa cushion lying restaurants and bars where they are showing old Friends-episodes on TV screens. OMG!

And what did I do for lunch?

Yeah, right.

Kind of fun too, I admitted over my noodle soup.

My dinner later in the evening I had to postpone an hour because of heavy rains. It was cascading by the buckets and I sat in the reception and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Indian tikka masala. Tasted good.

I bought a bus ticket for tomorrow, was it 14 USD? TV and local rice liquor in my room later that evening. CNN and Wimbledon is worth watching these days.

Read more

This trip to Laos and Cambodia is described in a series of articles.

  • Laos (1) – Vientiane: This year’s vacation is in the form of an egotrip to the Far East, more precisely Laos and Cambodia. I was in this part of the world in 1985, but these two countries were at the time practically sealed off to foreigners. The backpackers are now pouring in, groups are following suit – and I want to see the countries before they turn into another Thailand.
  • (2) – Vang Vieng: What’s wrong? Entering a backpacker’s haven on my own, twenty years older then the rest and what more?
  • NEXT CHAPTER: (3) – Luang Prabang: Ahhh! This is more like me. A fascinating landscape and a beautiful city full of temples, high on the World Heritage List in my opinion.
  • (3) – Sihanoukville: Trying to get a tan in the rainy season. Here is the story of my last few days in Cambodia.


There is a YouTube playlist of Laos with my four videos. Click to view the images below in a larger version.