Backpacking in Vang Vieng and Muang Ngoi Neua
Exploring Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is situated in the Vientiane Province, which, despite sharing the name with the nation’s capital, is four hours away by bus from Vientiane. Vang Vieng is nestled near the river Nam Song, and surrounded by a scenic landscape filled with karst hills.
The town is right In the middle of Laos’ most important cities, Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The original name of the town was Mouang Song, which was changed to Vang Vieng during the rule of the French colonial government. The town also played a significant role in the Vietnam War, where it was used as a US Air Force base and runway.
At present, Vang Vieng is one of the most important tourist destinations in Laos. Adventure tourism is the name of the game for Vang Vieng – its amazing limestone landscape and karsts hills are irresistible to the adventure-thirsty traveler.
Right on the main street, you can see tour agencies, guest houses, restaurants, bars, and even internet cafés that cater to Western travelers. Tourists can enjoy adventures such as kayaking and tubing in the Nam Song River, zip lines and rope swings, rock climbing, and trekking in the caves on the outskirts of town. A must-see site is the Wat Done Hor, which is one of the oldest religious structures in Vang Vieng.
Exploring Muang Ngoi Neua
Located near the Nam Ou River in Luang Prabang, Muang Ngoi Neua is a backpackers’ haven like no other. The town is one of the oldest Tai settlements in Laos, and further figures in Laotian history as the site of many a historical event. There are three Buddhist temples built in Muang Ngoi Neua – with the oldest of them being built in the 1500’s – and all of them were destroyed during the Vietnam War. During the 1970’s, the government initiated the rebuilding of another temple on the site of the ruins, and thus Wat Okad rose from the site of destruction.
Like Vang Vieng, Muang Ngoi Neua is also home to limestone mountains, which are perfect as the starting point of eco tours and treks. Adventurous travelers can explore the Tham Jang and the Tham Pha Kaew caves in the northern part of the town. These caves were once used by the locals as bomb shelters during the Vietnam War.
Every ten days, Muang Ngoi Neua also hosts a regional market, where the locals and tribes people coe to sell and trade their products.
TNK Travel Team