Tubing in the Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng. One of a kind place. Party Goers Paradise. Sex, Drugs, and… Tubing.  

People rave about Vang Vieng anywhere you go in South East Asia. The “Tubing In the Vang Vieng, Laos” T-Shirt is everywhere. Some try to avoid the place as if their life depends on it. There aim to stay far away from smelly backpackers, ‘American Loud Mouths’ or ‘Horny British it’s My Gap Year Boys’. Avoiding the people who go to a place, booze it up, decide to never leave, and work at some sleazy hostel to live for free. We all know the type, & their easy to spot in Vang Vieng. We went just looking for a good time. And a good time we found. 


zip lines into rivers = so much fun.

Here’s my theory: A bunch of people got together, had a laugh while smoking a joint, and said let’s put a bunch of crazed backpackers together, give them buckets of alcohol that cost $2.00, put them in a tube, have them float down the Mekong and then let’s rope them into different river side bars along the way. As if that wasn’t enough, they decided to have each bar equipped with a zip line so your drunk ass can fall 30 ft. into the river. If only they could have figured out how to add fire into the equation?!

We had the pleasure of traveling Laos with some wicked cool people. Monika from Poland & Pete-James-Molly from England. We had a great time biking in Luang Prabang together so we all decided to catch the bus and head for this crazy place called Vang Vieng. Upon arrival it was loud music, strobe lights, and tons of buckets [buckets = a sand bucket filled with pumped up redbull, whiskey, coke]. People were wrecked & still in their bathing suits from spending the day floating & drinking on the Mekong River. 


the MUD Bar

 We set off in early afternoon, bathing suits on & rented tubes in hand, ready for a day of partying on the Mekong. There are about 8 bars along the river each with their own attraction. You drink a bucket at one, float to the next, the people at that bar throw you a coke bottle on a rope and pull you in. Then you drink, dance, zip line, & move on. One bar has a giant mud pit for wrestling & tug-of-war shenanigans, another has a killer water slide launching people into the river, one bar has a zip line for doubles, there’s even a zip line that makes people somersault and so forth. It’s insane.

We conquered all the zip lines, mud pit, buckets, water slides, and thought we were left with the easy part… floating back to home that night. Vital piece of information for future Vang Vieng tubers, remember to ask how to get back. We forgot that tiny little detail. We floated down river a solid 45 minutes, I was feeling quite sober now that it had become black out & I couldn’t see a thing nor anyone around me. I yelled to a group of drunks behind me, “You know where we get off at?” One guy yelled back, “Naa man, I’m just wingin’ it.” You can’t exactly ‘wing it’ when you’re in a tube, no clue where you are, and its pitch black out. We all yelled at each other and decided to get off at the next light far in the distance. It turned out that home it was not, but someone’s random backyard- yes it was. Our dear friend Pete, can’t swim. And no… he didn’t have a life jacket either. He got caught in the current and started yelling for Rhys to come & literally save his life. Without a second thought Rhys dove in and was gone. I stood soaked, holding his tube and flip-flops, in a place I’ve never been, feeling quite confused. I heard screams from Pete and his girlfriend and then it was silent. Sounds like a terrible horror film?!  

We got a ride back to town in some ol’ beat up pick-up truck. When I started frantically cursing/yelling at the tube rental guys explaining that my boyfriend and 2 friends were lost in the river and go do something they said, “Can we have his tube back?” Then another piped up and said, “Don’t worry, they’ll just float to the next city 3 hours away.” Are you freaking kidding me?! No wonder people die doing this every year. Health & safety, what’s that? 

After a lot of tears, yelling, running around, and planning how I was going to tell family & friends that I lost Rhys in the Mekong… the 3 of them magically appeared in that same ol’ beat up pick-up truck with a look of bewilderment on their faces. Rhys had managed to get to Pete and Monika and the 3 swam to shore. Using the reeds to pull themselves upstream they walked back to that same backyard and bummed a ride into town. This all took about an hour. Worst hour of my life. 

My tourist t-shirt should say, “I didn’t die while tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos.”  


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3 Responses to “Tubing in the Vang Vieng”
  1. Tom says:

    Haha. I’m laughing only at the end Nicky, not in the penultimate two paragraphs! So, Rhys is a hero huh, who’d have guessed. What a crazy experience. Grown-up child’s play – who doesn’t love mud, zip-wires, rubber rings, rivers, dancing, and alcohol. Lost on a river in darkness though, not being able to swim and only Rhys Farrow to save you, bloody nightmare!

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  1. […] by Nicky on June 20, 2009 · Leave a Comment  After our horrendous experience ‘ Tubing in the Vang Vieng ’ you would think we learned our lesson with the consequences of mixing drinking with water. […]

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