Take an organized one or multi-day trek, or spend the day walking on your own along marked trails. Check out some of the treks offered by the tour companies and enter a side of Vang Vieng and the province that’s well-worth the ramble.
Vang Vieng Trekking
Hike to and through cave networks, follow streams to waterfalls, and climb to mountain ridges with fantastic views on a trek around Van Vieng.
Vang Vieng Cave Trail
Hop on a half or full-day trekking tour to several Vang Vieng sites, and the thrill of exploring caves. Hike around to an underground adventure after travelling 14 km north of town. First, cross the Nam Song River to Tham Xang (Elephant Cave), an important Buddhist site named after its limestone-form likeness to a pachyderm.
Next, walk to Tham Hoi (Snail Cave) for an hour-long exploration that winds among corridors to a candle-lit, crystal clear spring for a swim. The trail continues to Tham Loup’s (Deep Cave) stalagmites and stalactites. Finish the journey by tubing inside Tham Nam (Water Cave), before trekking 2 km through rice paddies and vegetable gardens to Ban Phathao (Hmong).
Kick off this 5-hour trek at Ban Phathao (Hmong) and climb to a mountain range with a panoramic view of Vang Vieng. Near the top, you’ll find Tham Hok Cave with some of the area’s most impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Descend the mountain’s far side to the “Secret Eden” and a cool swim in its rapids.
VV Mountain Trek
Start with a Hmong village visit, where your guide explains their culture, rituals, and way of life. Cross a suspension bridge and walk through rice fields to the jungle at Phou Pathao Mountain, and the start of a steep trek to the peak. After taking in the view while catching your breath, head to a Hmong mountain farm village. Here, you can rest by a waterfall-fed stream, take a swim, and enjoy lunch. Spend the afternoon hiking up another mountain to Tham Nam (Water Cave) and tube inside for 200 metres. Then, cross to Elephant Cave with its rock formation shaped like an elephant near centuries-old Buddha statues.
Vang Vieng Loop
Start your 2-day trek with a 5-hour march from Ban Phathao or Tham Sang up to the top of a mountain range offering photo ops of the valley. Walk along the range to Tham Hok Cave’s limestone art. Descend to the “Secret Eden” valley for a swim at rapids. Finish the loop through a bizarre palm forest to Pathang Resort or Ban Vieng Samay Eco-lodge for the night. The second day finds you in a kayak to Tham Nam Thaem and Tham None Caves, both into which you can paddle and swim. The day ends at Sabai Riverside Bungalows to enjoy the sunset.
Vang Vieng Challenge
Hard-core explorers can take The Vang Vieng Challenge, a 2-day outdoor test guided by Green Discovery. It starts out easy, crossing streams and rapids while clinging to ropes, before climbing a mountain trail. Next up, a via ferrata (iron way) crosses a gorge via a U-shaped cable bridge, and abseils down a 50-metre waterfall. Spend the night under the stars on a wooden platform or in a small bamboo hut. Awaken to a zip-line extravaganza, flying from tree to tree and crossing a cable bridge to reach the mountain base.
Khoun Lang Cave Nature Park
Choose from three treks at the 1,080-hectare Khoun Lang Cave Nature Park in Kasi District some 60 km north of Vang Vieng on the new road to Luang Prabang. The park sits amid limestone mountains clad with dense forest that provides the source of Houay San Stream. To reach the car park and Visitor Centre, turn west at Kasi Town and drive 17km to Ban Houay San.
To access the park’s star, Khoun Lang Cave, slide through its narrow entrance within a 350-metre walk from the Visitor Centre. The crag opens into a 250-metre-long passage lined with stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone. The cavity reaches four levels, where the ceiling’s limestone-filled water drops create incredible shapes and forms. The cave traditionally launches the park’s treks, which can be booked at the Visitor Centre.
Houay Lang Trail
Start on a path that crosses footbridges as you follow Houay San Stream through the jungle to Khoun Lang Cave. After your underground exploration, trek to the top of a mountain ridge, and then descend back to Houay San. Follow the Houay San upstream on a climb to Tad Houay San Waterfall, the largest falls in the park. The full day ends after a rest and ride to the Visitor Centre.
Houay Saphai Trail
Take a 3.5-km half-day trek between tree-covered limestone outcrops to Houay Saphai Cave. Hike along the Houay Saphai Stream to the Tad Houay Saphai’s pair of waterfalls. The first drops 9 metres and then tumbles 12 metres into a rock-lined funnel through the steep Saphai Gorge. Further upstream, past caves, you’ll find a larger multi-tiered waterfall. The trek ends with a descent down the mountain to the Visitor Centre.
Houay San Trail
This 1-day trek takes you on a 6-km hike along the Houay San Stream to the Tad Houay San Waterfall, the nature park’s largest cascade. Along the way, you’ll watch the stream break off into smaller branches that flow over rock ledges to create an area of mini-waterfalls.
Houay Nhang Forest Reserve
Closer to the capital, the Houay Nhang Forest Reserve just off Route 10 presents a great day trip you can reach by hired sawng taew. Grab a guide booklet at the entrance, and follow a marked nature trail through its 800 hectares of forest. Along the way, you can spot migrating birds, see bizarre insects like walking sticks, and butterflies. After your nature walk, stop at a restaurant by the fish ponds for lunch or refreshments.
Further along Route 10, as you close in on Nam Ngum Lake, stop at Nong Nok (Bird Lake) near Ban Sivilay. The villagers have developed a conservation and nature tourism project at the “lake”, which is a dammed stream that created a 60-hectare reservoir to raise fish. Wetland birds were the first visitors, with egrets, ducks, jacanas and others, which actually fertilize the pond with excrement. You can follow a trail around the lake to spot birds. Camping and simple accommodation for overnight stays are available. You’ll need to hire a vehicle and driver in the capital for the trip.