Vang Vieng Tubing is almost as iconic as the Parisian Eiffel Power, the Roman Colosseum or the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Vang Vieng has so long been associated with tubing that it can be a bit hard to imagine what else this small party town has to offer.
In years gone by, the major attraction for a lot of tourists in Vang Vieng was not so much the tubing itself, but the copious amounts of cheap alcohol and drugs that could be ordered at the riverside bars in between tubing stints. Now, while we all enjoy a few cold ones on the river, the sinister mixture of sun, water and mind-altering substances led to a few nasty endings for tourists in Vang Vieng. For a sobering account of Vang Vieng’s past life as a major party town, check out THIS ARTICLE.
Despite the recent crackdowns on Vang Vieng’s party scene, there is still a lot of fun to be had out on the river. So, if you’re in town and you’re interested in tubing, check out our comprehensive guide to Vang Vieng tubing below for all you need to know.
Where can I book Vang Vieng Tubing?
Vang Vieng is almost overflowing with tourist agencies that can offer you any combination of tubing, rock-climbing, swimming and many more activities. Most of them will have large signs right on their doorsteps explaining the different package combinations and the price. The pluses with this option are that the company will organize all of the gear, pick-up and drop-off and will also organize your transfers from one activity to the next. The minus is obvious – you’re working to someone else’s schedule.
The great thing about Vang Vieng Tubing is that you can hire a tube yourself from the tube warehouse which is opposite Hally’s Coffee, not far from the post office. You will need to provide a copy of your passport or your passport number before you can rent a tube. DO NOT bring your passport as it WILL get wet while you’re tubing. Just memorise the number or write it on a scrap of paper.
Deposit for Vang Vieng Tubing
You’ll be required to give a 60,000-kip (approximately) deposit on top of the 55,000 – 65,000 kip for the rental. To ensure your deposit is returned, make sure you bring your tube back before the time the rental staff tell you. They’ll write either 6pm or 8pm on your hand so you don’t forget!
How much does Vang Vieng Tubing cost?
Vang Vieng Tubing is very reasonably priced. It does depend on which package you choose and with whom. Most package days start from around 100,000 kip.
If you rent your own tube, then you pay between 55,000 and 65,000 for the rental, 60,000 or so for the deposit and then for the tuk-tuk ride. Tuk-tuk trips are always cheaper if there are more people and are actually FREE from the tubing office if more than four people are riding. Hang around the tubing office until more tubers arrive – you can catch a tuk-tuk together and save some money for beers.
If you don’t feel like waiting, expect to pay 20,000 kip for one person, 10,000 kip each for two or 5,000 each for three people. Don’t forget about your tuk-tuk ride home which will cost between 10,000 and 25,000 kip!
Drinks at Vang Vieng Tubing.
Remember, drinks are cheap in Laos but tourists are fair game for the business-savvy. Make sure you have enough cash to cover the amount of drinks you estimate you’re going to consume and also some money for snacks. Beers are about 20,000 kip in most places in Vang Vieng. Budget for this, plus 50,000 for food and take some extra just in case. Don’t forget about your tuk-tuk ride home which will cost between 10,000 and 25,000 kip!
For a good little bar guide, check out HERE.
Safety at Vang Vieng Tubing.
This is the question on everyone’s lips given the many tourists who have died tubing in Laos in recent years. Our answer is simple. Vang Vieng Tubing is safer than it used to be but nothing is 100% safe anywhere in the world. Follow all of the signs and don’t rely solely on others for your own safety. This means using common sense. Don’t jump into the water if you haven’t checked for submerged objects, don’t drink yourself to a point where you can no longer control yourself and don’t go swimming in deep water if you are a poor swimmer. And for god’s sake take a life jacket, no matter how confident you are in the water!
How to get to Vang Vieng Tubing?
If you catch a tuk-tuk from the tubing office, the driver will know where to go. If not, tell your tuk-tuk driver to take you to the start of the river, he’ll know what you’re talking about. The giant tubes you’re carrying will probably give him a fair idea of where you’re wanting to go. If you’re thinking of getting there yourself, consider how you’ll be getting home after imbibing on the river. Safety first!
What to bring to Vang Vieng Tubing?
– Sunscreen. This is simply a must everywhere in South East Asia. Make sure you have enough to reapply throughout the day. You don’t want your awesome Vang Vieng tubing experience to end with roasted skin. Trust us. Travelling is no fun with sunburn, especially in buses!
– A hat and sunglasses. You can pick up cheap hats and sungalsses at most clothing stores in Vang Vieng. Obviously, you shouldn’t take your favourite accessories as there is a good chance the’ll go missing or break during your awesome day tubing. But make sure your hat has a brim and can be tightened to sit snuggly on your head!
– A Waterproof Bag. If you’re planning on taking phones, wallets or anything else valuable, just pick up a waterproof bag at one of the many outlets in Vang Vieng. They are super cheap and could save you a lot of agonizing.
– Thongs, sandals or some kind of open footwear. Make sure they’re cheap and expendable. Tubing shenanigans can be a real threat to personal possessions so make sure you’re willing to part with anything that you bring.
The best times for Vang Vieng Tubing
Tubing in Vang Vieng is a numbers’ game. If you want to skip the crowds, the earlier the better. Most of the serious drinkers head to the river at about 12.00 so if you want to beat them, get there at 11.00. Keep in mind that the route takes about 2.5 hours (without stops) and that it gets pretty cold pretty fast when the sun goes down (check out sunset times before planning your day).
When you see the sign that says it’s time to get out of the water, paddle over to the bank and hop out.
If you are in Vang Vieng, then it is well worth spending a day on the river. The atmosphere is great and the scenery gorgeous. Vang Vieng tubing is also a fantastic way to make new friends. If you use common sense, you will have an awesome day.
Don’t forget to check out our Vang Vieng Blue Lagoon Complete Guide 2019.
Also, travels go hand in hand with photography – who doesn’t take a lot of photos when they travel? If you are one of those people (like we are), check out our Fine Art Photography page and let us know what you think!