Vang Vieng is tiny. It lies along the Nam Song from north to south parallel to Rte. 13. The center of town is around the junction on the main street. Turning left (if heading north) you take the road that directly lines the river. There is a small right turnoff there leading to a cluster of cheaper restaurants and guesthouses. If you turn left you arrive at a series of more tranquil hotels and resorts.
Spanning the Nam Song are a number of narrow wooden bridges. The opposite banks of the river are being developed fast and there are already quite a number of restaurants and hotels. In Vang Vieng there are no road or street names. This is no problem, since the town really only has two streets.
Vang Vieng is a smooth 3-hour bus ride north on Rte. 13 from Vientiane. There are numerous daily departures from the Morning Market (tel. 021/216-507), and tickets are 57,000 kip on a VIP bus and 90,000 kip on a minibus. Bus connection to Luang Prabang is a popular option, a bumpy but scenic 6-hour ride for just 105,000 kip. However, attacks just north of town mean that road travel must be undertaken with caution. Ask around about the current situation, and do not be surprised if there is a bus-company employee toting a machine gun onboard.
The bus station (tel. 023/511-341) is just outside of town on Rte. 13 heading north about 2km (1 1/4 miles) from the main junction, and there are plenty of tuk-tuk drivers there who can take you to the town center or the guesthouse of your choosing.
Vang Vieng is a very small place and you can walk everywhere. Many choose to do this without shoes, despite the health risks. You can also hire bicycles for $1 a day or motorbikes for $8 a day from many guesthouses.
Visitor Information & Tours
Quite a number of local guesthouses and operators offer tours of various sorts.
Other operators offering the same mixture of outdoor activities are situated on the road that runs down from the main junction to the old market and on to the river. They include Wonderful Tours (tel. 023/511-566), Riverside Tour (tel. 023/511-091) and Namthip Tours (tel. 020/562-3536).
Banks & Currency Exchange -- The BCEL (tel. 023/511-434; Mon-Fri 8:30am-3:30pm) is on the main street south of the main junction. There is, however, a convenient exchange kiosk (open daily 8:30am-3:30pm and 5-8pm) in the center of town opposite the Dokeun Guesthouse near the main junction. They change cash and traveler's checks and make advances on Visa and MasterCard. There is also an ATM issuing kip only (up to 700,000 kip).
Hospital -- A hospital is by the river heading south opposite the Ban Sabi Bungalows.
Internet Access -- There are Internet cafes everywhere catering largely to the hordes needing to use Skype. The best by far is Magnet Internet (Main Rd., opposite the Nazim Restaurant; tel. 020/541-7894). They have fast connections and work to maintain their machines and keep them virus free.
Post Office -- A post office (tel. 023/511-434) is located next to the Old Market.