I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had never heard of Laos until a friend we met in the Philippines said it was a must see. So since it was right next to Vietnam we thought why not! We decided to avoid the long bus and instead take a 1 hour flight into Vientiane. We had to pay $35 per person for the visa upon arrival. P.S. if you have U.S. dollars on you it is cheaper than taking out kip (which is the currency in Laos) to pay for the visa. We shared a taxi into town with another couple from Canada. We stayed in a nice hotel called Memories which was very close to the night market.
We happened to stumble upon zumba going on by the river! So of course I had to join in being that I am obsessed with zumba. After I got my work out on we sat at a little restaurant under a hut with plastic chairs and ordered pad thai – which we were having withdrawals from since you can’t get it in Vietnam!
The next morning we took a 4 hour bumpy van ride to Vang Vieng, which is now one of our favorite cities! Although we were on the 4th floor (once again), we were happy to have a room at the end with a great view!
We arrived in the afternoon and it was a nice balmy 100 degrees, so we decided to go for a bike ride to a lagoon. We were told it was only going to be a few miles, ended up being 5 miles! We were very happy to have a freezing cold lagoon to jump into. On our bike ride back we noticed a large line of birds flying away – you know what that means – rain! When it started raining we tried to flag down a tuk tuk for a ride, and the other passengers just waived back. I was very annoyed as my intention was not to say hi, but to get a ride since it was clearly raining! Thankfully we made it back without being completely drenched.
That night we decided to go to dinner at an Irish pub recommended by a friend and ordered a meat pie that was delicious. They also had live music playing since it was St. Patrick’s day! We were told that there were 2 bars where you could get free whiskey drinks for an hour. We met up with a Canadian we had met back in Cambodia and his friends from Portugal. We enjoyed bar hopping and meeting new people. Every extroverts dream come true 🙂 Because it was a Friday night they had a jungle party. We ran into a lot of the people we had met that day, and had fun getting my face painted with sparkles 🙂
The next day we went on the famous tubing river. Unfortunately it was a gloomy day, but we made the best of it. This river was known for having bars lined along it a few years ago, but unfortunately there are only 3 now since people got a little too crazy. In order for the bars to get your tube they throw a water bottle with a string attached to pull you in. We enjoyed playing drinking games at the first bar. The next bar we enjoyed dancing and meeting new friends. By the time the tubing was over it was dark out!
The next day we decided to go to another lagoon that was much closer. We went back to the same bike shop to rent bicycles. There was only an older Lao woman than who didn’t speak a lick of English. We tried to give her the same amount money as we gave them yesterday, and she didn’t seem to understand. So we left to find another bike shop but didn’t have any luck finding one with a regular bicycle, they were all mountain bikes. So we ended up going back to the same bike shop, but got a lady from the shop next store to help interpret (although she spoke very little English). 30 minutes later we finally got the bikes. The solution in the end was to use the calculator to show how much we needed to give for a deposit.
The lagoon we went to was only about a 15 minute bike ride. The price was .25 cents per person to get into the park area, but because we were on bikes we had to pay another .25 cents which we thought was kind of bogus we had to pay for our bikes. We had to pay to get to the caves as well. I found it funny that the sign read if you were overseas you had to pay. It was many steps to get to the cave, so it was nice to cool off inside. There was a group of young monks that were taking a million selfies.
After we went to swim in the lagoon, which didn’t have anyone else swimming in it! So it was our own little private pool for a while. It was really cold and the rocks were super slippery. There was a little cave that I wouldn’t dare swim down, but Rob was brave enough to do that until he saw a water spider. Soon others joined us. I love that the Lao people will get in the water even when they don’t have their swim suits, jeans and all 🙂
My one regret I have is not going hot air ballooning in Vang Vieng. I have heard it is one of the cheapest places in the world to do it for as little as $88 per person! It would have been a beautiful place to do it. It was hard to leave this place, but we were happy to have made new friends that were joining us in the next city. Stay tuned for the next city in Laos that was a diverse change from this one!