1. Tham Nam Cave in Vang Vieng.
Tham Nam is the highlight of the cluster of caves near Vang Vieng. It is 11km (7 miles) north of Vang Vieng and is accessible by motorbike, bicycle or tuk tuk. The cave is about 500m long and a tributary of the Nam Song flows out of its low entrance. It's about 400m south of Tham Hoi, along a well-used path.
In the dry season you can wade into the cave, but when the water is higher you need to take a tube from the friendly woman near the entrance; the tube and headlamp are included in the entrance fee. Dragging yourself through the tunnel on the fixed rope is fun.
2. Tham Phu Kham Cave in Vang Vieng.
The vast Tham Phu Kham is considered sacred by Lao and is popular largely due to the lagoon in the cave.The beautiful green-blue waters are perfect for a dip after the stiff climb. The main cave chamber contains a Thai bronze reclining Buddha, and from here deeper galleries branch off into the mountain.
Tham Phu Kham is 10 km (6 miles) from the town of Vang Vieng.
Get here via a scenic paved road to the village of Ban Na Thong. From there follow the signs towards the cliff and climb 200m through scrub forest.
3. Tham Hoi Cave in Vang Vieng.
The entrance to Tham Hoi is guarded by a large Buddha figure; reportedly the cave continues about 3km into the limestone and an underground lake. The combined entry fee covers all the caves in the Tham Sang area.
It's reached via a signed path from Tham Sang that takes you 1km northwest through rice fields.
4. Tham Loup Cave in Vang Vieng.
Tham Loup is a large and delightfully untouched cavern with some impressive stalactites. The combined entry fee covers all the caves in the Tham Sang area.
The entrances to the cave are reached from Tham Sang via a signed path that takes you 1km northwest through rice fields.
5. Tham Jang Cave in Vang Vieng.
The most famous of the caves around Vang Vieng, Tham Jang was used as a bunker to defend against marauding jęen hór (Yunnanese Chinese) in the early 19th century (jąng means ‘steadfast’).
It is accessible via an orange suspension bridge at the back of Vang Vieng Resort’s property. Swim in the clear spring outside the cave, then climb the steep staircase to enter the well-lit cavern. Visitors can see a panoramic view of the city and mountains from the lookout point, and many stalactites and stalagmites inside.
6. Buddhist Temples in Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng has several temples to visit, including Wat Si Vieng Song, Wat Si Suman and Wat That. With all of the outdoor activities, partying and Western restaurants and shops, it can be easy to forget that Vang Vieng is in majority Buddhist Laos. Take a quiet moment between activities to enjoy the architecture and reflect.
7. Pha Poak.
Pha Poak is a limestone hill, distinguishable on the west bank of the Nam Song by the flag at the top.
There is a small entrance fee payable to a man at the base who will lead you through a cave to the start of the trek.
Steep ladders and ropes help hikers pull themselves up the rocks. The views at the top are absolutely worth the effort.
8. Kaeng Nyui Waterfall.
Kaeng Nuyi Waterfall is on the east side of the Nam Song, located in a park maintained by the villagers of Ban Naduang. The park has food stalls, maintained paths, bridges and a look-out point. The size and flow of the waterfall, which is 30m (90 feet) tall, differs dramatically in the wet and dry seasons.
9. Tube or Kayak the Nam Song.
Vang Vieng is on the banks of the Nam Song, and no trip would be complete without experiencing the river first hand. Many tour companies around town offer kayaking, often as part of a day tour that includes lagoons and caves. Tubing can be arranged through a tour company or directly at several tube warehouses around town, and include a tuk tuk ride upstream.
10. Blue Lagoon 1.
The Blue Lagoon swimming hole is one of the the most popular stops on Vang Vieng day tours, with life jacket rental, a water slide and rope swings. Visitors jump from low and high platforms on the tree that hangs over the lagoon. It gets crowded, so get there early. Zip lining and a Western-style Parisien Cafe round out this attraction.
11. Blue Lagoon 2.
If you’re looking for equally stunning water with fewer tourists, opt for Blue Lagoon 2 (or 3 or 4, as Vang Vieng has no shortage of natural springs to swim in.) Lagoon 2 has several swimming areas, cabanas to eat or hang out in, platforms to jump from and a bridge suspended between two trees from which to take in the sights.