Vang Vieng holds a variety of options for going on self-guided adventures around town, to the caves, along the river, and into the mountains. By foot, you can stroll around town to see the temples, find a restaurant or bar, or cross a suspended bridge to a relaxing hammock on the Nam Song River.
Bicycles are a popular way to visit many of the caves or explore the countryside by road. You can also hop on a mountain bike for rougher terrain. Plenty of shops and guesthouses rent all types of bikes. Be sure to select the bicycle type best suited for your tour.
You can catch more sites and get to them quicker on the seat of a motorcycle. You’ll find shops in town renting small scooters, rugged motocross bikes, and off-road quads. Most of the shops’ rates are about the same, but look around to get the best deal for the vehicle you need, and one that is in good shape.
Another way to travel independently is by tuk tuk, whether you’re moving around town or heading to a natural attraction. Create your own itinerary and negotiate with a tuk tuk driver, and you should pay him to wait to ensure a ride back to town.
There are several options for getting to and around the Nam Ngum Lake area. Public busses depart the capital city’s Central Bus Station near the morning market and sawng taews (Pickup trucks with benches) leave from the Northern Bus Terminal, west of the airport, for Thalat Town. From here, you can take a tuk tuk to Na Nam near the dam, or to your guesthouse or resort.
You can also hire a taxi at the capital for about $25 to tour the lake and its surroundings. This option opens up Route 10 to Ban Keun, with plenty of attractions along the way. Taxis also offer independent travellers stops at villages to experience a part of Lao few have visited.
For those arriving from Vang Vieng and want to get closer to Lao life, take a local sawng taew to Tha Hua at the northern end of the lake. From here you can continue to Ban Phon Hong and catch local transport to Thalat Town. For a full-on experience for travelling between Nam Ngum and Vang Vieng, take a 5-hour boat ride between Tha Hua and Na Nam.
Note: Bus and song taew schedules and prices are subject to change. Please check before departing or book through a travel agent.