Laos is making a name for itself as a destination for thrill-seekers and adventurers, with many activities centered around the scenic area of Vang Vieng. If you’re heading to Laos in search of adventure, here are some activities you might want to try.
Can there be any greater thrill than whizzing over the treetops dangling from a wire? Try this hair-raising activity at Vang Vieng or the Jungle Hotel Paksong in Dong Hua Sao National Park, where the zip-line system has you racing past waterfalls and across gorges.
2. Whitewater Rafting
If a languid potter down the Mekong is a bit too sedate for you, try white water rafting. It’s possible on several of the rivers in Laos, including the Nam Ming, Nam Xuang and Nam Ou.
3. Mountain Biking
The rugged landscape of Laos makes for ideal mountain biking conditions. The most popular route is the challenging ‘Route 13’, which takes you from Luang Prabang to the capital Vientiane via several mountain ranges. Houa Phan and Xieng Khuang provinces have less challenging routes that also introduce you to some isolated villages.
Kayaking is a slightly calmer alternative to white water rafting. There are gentler options for beginners, and it’s a great way to see the famously beautiful 4000 Islands region, or to discover the dramatic limestone karst landscape of Vang Vieng.
5. River Tubing
Vang Vieng is the place to go to try “river tubing”, which involves lying on a rubber ring and floating down the Nam Song, usually calling in at riverside bars for drinks along the way. It once had a dubious reputation owing to its popularity with inebriated backpackers, but its appeal has widened and these days it’s a relaxing activity in the morning quiet (it gets busier in the afternoon).
Last but not least, good old-fashioned trekking is not to be missed when you’re in Laos – it’s a great way to spot wildlife, meet ethnic tribes and simply experience the natural beauty of Laos. Select your difficulty level, decide whether to go independent or join an organized tour, and get out into the wilderness around towns such as Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang or Luang Namtha.
7. Rock Climbing and Bouldering
Rock climbing gets you up close and personal with Vang Vieng’s forested limestone peaks and a host of other impressive natural landscapes in Laos. Green Climbers Home is a dedicated rock climbing resort offering 272 different climbing and “bouldering” (climbing on boulders) courses at Thakhek, in Khammouane province.
Beneath Laos’s famous limestone karsts, a network of caves lies waiting to be explored by those who don’t mind adventuring in confined spaces. There are several options for the intrepid cave enthusiast, and Vang Vieng is only the most famous; here are some more.
9. Hot Air Ballooning
Essentially the polar opposite to caving, hot air ballooning is a rather gentler sort of adventure. Get up early and take to the skies of Vang Vieng for magnificent sunrise views of the Nam Song winding its way through the picturesque countryside.