You want special menu? Happy menu?
Tubing in Vang Vieng is the main attraction, but the town itself is really becoming something of a tourist attraction on its own. This town is certainly unlike anything else in Laos, and you will be shocked when people remind you that there’s a nationwide curfew. It’s an easy place to get carried away, try to remain respectful and aware of where you are.
After you’ve finished tubing, you’ll likely be looking for a restaurant. Enter one of the strangest scenes that make Vang Vieng unique.
Walking down the streets that were dirt only a couple of years ago, you’ll pass many restaurants that seem the same. In fact, they are so same same that they will even have the exact same menu. When I was first there in 2008, every restaurant was showing a different episode of friends, so you picked your restaurant based upon what episode you felt like watching. Weird! Returning in 2010, the restaurants had diversified, some were now showing Simpsons and others showing The Family Guy, what progress!
Each restaurant has its own same same but different charm, so use whatever criteria you wish, and enjoy the triangle cushions.
If you are not completely innocent looking, you will most likely be offered the special/happy menu when you enter a restaurant.
This menu is typically chicken scratches on a napkin with a few different items, as so:
There may be some other options, but those are the main ones. I’m not your mother, so I won’t tell you what to do or not do, but I will say that there’s enough shady things going on in Vang Vieng that you don’t want to be completely annihilated wandering around the streets… for that matter you shouldn’t be in such a state anywhere in South East Asia.
If you head out across the rickety bridges, there’s a few bars and a couple of chill hang out places. Ask around for these and you’ll find your way there. It seems that you are far enough away from the actual town that the curfew doesn’t have an effect here.
To be honest, Vang Vieng is a weird enigma of a town where you won’t be sure of the legalities behind anything that’s going on. Understand your own limits, despite how it seems you are still in a humble Buddhist country.
What do you do with your day?
Tubing in Vang Vieng is the main choice.
There are also a few really neat places to check out by bike, and renting scooters to head out to the lagoon and caves is a great way to spend your day as well. Bring your own light for the cave, as you can probably find the cave easier than you can find a guide.
Vang Vieng couldn’t continue to offer it’s special menu forever… after all, this is Laos. This little town grew exponentially in infamy until eventually it lead to Vang Vieng closing down.