Vang Vieng has several distinct seasons, with the rainy season running from May through to October, the cool dry season from October-February and the hot dry season from March-May. The cool dry season tends to be the most popular time for tourists to come on their Vang Vieng holiday. Therefore, advance bookings of Vang Vieng hotels and Vang Vieng tours is particularly recommended during this period.
If you're planning a trip to Vang Vieng, be sure to check out tubing in the Nam Song River, which is like a floating party. There's also plenty to see and do in Vang Vieng beyond the party scene.
The rainy season tends to amount to warm days (25-30 degrees) with periodic downpours lasting an hour or so. The hot dry season runs from March-May with temperatures reaching 40 degrees not being unknown. The cool dry season, which tends to be the most popular time of year to for a Vang Vieng holiday visit, runs from October through to February-March, with temperatures dropping to as low as 5 degrees during the nights - warm clothing is recommended during this time, although day time temperatures of 20-25 degrees are not uncommon.
The cool dry season tends to be the most popular time for tourists and advance bookings of Vang Vieng hotels and Vang Vieng tours is particularly recommended during this period.
From the bus station
From Vientiane, buses will drop you off either at the old airstrip (from the Vietnam war, it's now just a giant gravel pad) and the tourist buses will drop you in front of a hotel on the main street in town. The airstrip is directly behind the main street, so in either case there is no need to take a tuk tuk or cyclo if you plan to stay in the main area of town. The island and bungalows along the river are about a 20 min walk away. Buses to and from the North of Laos leave from the new bus terminal 2 km North of town. When leaving Vang Vieng, transport to the bus station is usually included in the price of your ticket.
Vang Vieng is so small that everything is easily reachable by foot. If you want to venture outside of town, bicycles are widely available and can be rented from hotels or local businesses. You should not have to pay over 10,000 kip for a day's rental. Motorcycle rentals are also widely available. It's quite easy to rent a motorcycle from a local business for only 40,000-60,000 kip. Always check the details of the contract. At some places you will have to sign a contract which makes you completely responsible if something breaks or fails to function, even if it's normal wear and tear. Also you are not allowded to go out of the Vang Vieng district, so don't count on renting a bike here to go on a longer tour of the district.
Several tuk tuks are also scattered around town. 10,000 kip per person will be plenty to get to anywhere within Vang Vieng - it's also the price you'll pay to get to the tubing bars irrespective of how many other people are on board. It's better to sort out exact change with fellow passengers as tuk tuk drivers are notorious for giving incorrect change. To rent a Tuk Tuk for the whole day cost about 130,000-150,000 kip.
What to see ?
Tham Poukham - Blue Lagoon, (7 km west from town, maps provided where you can rent bicycles, accessible by bicycle or motorbike. Be careful along the way, in recent years a number of imposters have shown up, all claiming to be the 'blue lagoon'. Keep to the main road and you should be OK). 8AM-6PM. A spring fed lagoon at the bottom of "Golden Cave". Nice place to relax, swim and play on the rope swing. The waters are inhabitated with a few hundred carp fish that will eat locally sold fish food out of your hand. The cave above requires a modest 100 m hike up a makeshift bamboo ladder. Once inside, there is a short walk to the Sleeping Golden Buddha and glimmering stalactites about 300 m further inside. 10,000 kip entry and 10,000 kip to rent a head-torch, recommended if you go deeper into the cave than the Buddha (travellers warn to check the battery). Guides for the cave advertised at 50,000 kip but, like most things in SE Asia, this is probably negotiable.
Padeng cave and Ring cave, (Cross a footbridge over the river, follow the signs and white flags (garbage bags) on sticks through the field). Across the river a 1.5 km path marked by white flags cuts through the fields towards the limestone mountains. The smallest hill has very rickety ladders (read: dangerous) to aid in climbing to the top. Halfway up the mountain is a cave. Another 1 km along the path past the mountain goes through a small forest and arrives at a cave. A few sleepy Laotians guard the cave's entrance and a hand painted sign says that guides are mandatory. It costs extra to go to the lagoon in the cave, and the guides will let you know that "tipping extra is ok". 10,000 kip for the hill, 15,000 kip for the cave, 30,000 kip to go to the cave lagoon.
Chang Cave, (On the south end of the main road. Turn right at the sign to Jam Mee Guesthouse). Decent cave but not worth the 15,000 kip entrance fee plus 2,000 kip per person/3,000 kip per motorbike bridge crossing fee. The cave is well lit and has stairs running throughout that makes it an easy self-guided tour. One part has a really nice view of the farms surrounding the city. If you've been to other caves it's really not worth the money (similar but more expensive)