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At the center of its allure is the captivating activity of tubing in Vang Vieng down the Nam Song River—a journey that has seen the evolution of a raucous party scene to a more tranquil, regulated, and responsible adventure. Join us as we delve into the past, the present, and the practicalities of experiencing the transformed charm of river tubing in Vang Vieng.

 

River Tubing in Vang Vieng: Exploring the Nam Song River

Nestled in the heart of rural Laos, the vibrant town of Vang Vieng offers a unique and exhilarating experience for travelers seeking adventure and natural beauty. At the center of its allure is the captivating activity of river tubing down the Nam Song River. Once a vibrant party scene, tubing has evolved over the years to offer a more regulated and safety-conscious experience, while still providing an opportunity to enjoy the stunning landscapes and camaraderie of fellow travelers.

Relax and unwind as you float downstream, photo courtesy of Mad Monkey

The Evolution of Tubing

Nearly two decades ago, Vang Vieng started gaining popularity among backpackers for its breathtaking natural landscapes, featuring limestone mountains, lush lagoons, and the enchanting Nam Song River. River Tubing in Vang Vieng, which involves floating leisurely on inflatable tubes down the river, quickly emerged as a favoured pastime among travellers seeking a unique way to explore the area.

Around a decade ago, tubing reached its peak in popularity, drawing in backpackers from across the region. Bars sprung up along the riverbanks, offering pulsating music and affordable drinks. Additionally, rope swings, zip lines, and water slides added an extra layer of excitement to the river tubing experience in Vang Vieng.

However, the combination of alcohol and water proved perilous, resulting in unfortunate incidents, including drownings and accidents. In 2011, due to safety concerns, the Lao government intervened, resulting in a shutdown of the rampant party scene that had taken over the river.

River Tubing in Vang Vieng Today: A More Relaxed Adventure

After a period of reevaluation and reform, tubing was reintroduced to the Nam Song River, this time under stricter regulations — aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of visitors. While the days of excessive alcohol and dangerous attractions are gone, the essence of tubing — a relaxing and enjoyable experience remains intact.

Today’s river tubing experience offers a more serene and laid-back journey down the river. With only four bars allowed to operate at any given time, the atmosphere is more controlled, allowing visitors to savor the natural beauty of the surroundings without compromising their safety. Rope swings, zip lines, and slides have been removed, creating a more tranquil and peaceful tubing environment.

As you float down the Nam Song River, bar staff will throw plastic bottles attached to ropes, allowing you to easily pull yourself in to the riverbank. While alcohol is still a part of the experience, the focus is on responsible consumption, and drugs are no longer sold at the bars. Instead, visitors can enjoy local Lao whisky and other beverages while taking in the stunning scenery.

Mad Monkey Tour heads down stream of the Nam Song River, photo courtesy of Mad Monkey

Mad Monkey’s Guided River Tubing in Vang Vieng Tour: A Hassle-Free Adventure

For an effortless and exciting tubing experience on the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, join Mad Monkey’s guided tubing tour.

Days: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays

Time: 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Price: $6

Inclusions: Pick-up, two beverages (beer or soft drink)

Itinerary: Pick-up at Mad Monkey (12:30 PM – 1:00 PM) → Drive to tubing village → Tubing → Return to Mad Monkey (4:00 PM – 4:30 PM)

Escape logistics and enjoy tubing with ease on this fantastic tour!

If you want to go on your own, however, keep reading!

Practical Information for River Tubing in Vang Vieng

Tube Rental:

Rentals cost 60,000 kip ($7) with an added deposit of the same amount, so expect to put down 120,000 kip ($14) when you get to the office. Tubes can be rented between the hours of 9 AM and 4 PM and must be returned before 8 PM that same day for a refund of the deposit.

Location: MAP

Contact: +856 20 52 117 554

Opening Times: Every day 09:00 AM – 07:50 PM

Transportation:

Upon completing the rental process, you’ll be transported by tuk-tuk to the starting point of your tubing journey. The ride is free if the tuk-tuk is full, but you can pay 20,000 kip ($2) if you prefer a quicker departure with fewer people.

Tubing Duration:

Overall, tubing on the river takes about 2.5 hours, but during the peak season between December and May, the trip can take as long as 4 hours. Numerous riverside bars line the banks of the Nam Song, yet only one remains open at any given time. We definitely recommend stopping by to cool off with a bottle of delicious BeerLao!

Essentials to Bring:

  • Dry Bag:

A waterproof dry bag is an absolute necessity. Since you’re bound to get wet during tubing, keeping your valuables dry and secure is crucial. Store your phone, camera, wallet, and any other essentials in the dry bag to protect them from the elements.

  • Sun Protection:

The Laotian sun can be intense, so be sure to pack a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from its rays. Additionally, a biodegradable sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from sunburn while enjoying the river.

  • Appropriate Clothing:

Wearing a comfortable and appropriate swimsuit is a must. You’ll be spending a significant amount of time in the water. Leave behind your regular clothes, sandals, and valuables at your accommodation to avoid the risk of losing them during the tubing journey.

Enjoy a few beers with your Monkey Mates as you float down the Nam Song River, photo by Mad Monkey

Tubing at the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng

Tubing down the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng captures the town’s shift from a party hub to a secure and delightful retreat. Its captivating beauty and controlled approach let you soak in Laos’ enchanting landscapes and bond with fellow travelers. Drifting along the river, reminiscing and savoring the moment, you’ll forge lasting memories, far outlasting your tubing adventure.

Tranquil Currents and Timeless Memories: Tubing in Vang Vieng’s Evolving Embrace

Among Vang Vieng’s stunning landscapes, the tale of river tubing emerges — change, safety, and connection. Gone are wild parties, replaced by tranquil enjoyment and mindful experiences. Tubing isn’t just floating; it’s joining a narrative of change, camaraderie, and appreciation. Memories won’t merely be photos; they’ll reflect an evolving place, a seasoned river, and the pledge to enjoy responsibly. Embrace past and present, let the Nam Song River guide you to harmonious travel ahead.

Find Out More About Tubing in Vang Vieng

Tubing in Laos, Then & Now — by Intrepid Escape
5 Practical Things To Know About Tubing in Laos — by I Wanderlista
Things To Do In Laos, Beyond Tubing! — By Dream Big, Travel Far

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About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.