From arriving in Vang Vieng and witnessing the stunning scenery, all I wanted to do was Kayak!
Finally on our last day we got to do this as a part of a package tour. Package Tours are not exactly the cheapest method of exploration, especially for a backpacker but it was our last day and we were feeling a little bit lazy plus we believed we had found an amazing deal so we decided to go for it. So….we would be spending our last day tubing, caving, trekking through villages and kayaking for the bargain price of 90,000 Kip (which is about 7 pounds.) We met other people from our hostel on the tour who had paid 150,000 Kip and the only difference from what we could see was that they had slightly better kayaks and life jackets, so do shop around a bit.
After a 30 minute Tuk Tuk journey and a walk down some muddy roads we arrived at our first destination. We were each handed a flash light that goes around your head and then told to go and grab a tube. We quickly came to realise that the ‘tubing’ would be through a 300m pitch black cave! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit scared seeing that the entrance to the cave was only a foot above the water…. I am a little bit claustrophobic!!
Stepping into the freezing cold shallow waters and jumping aboard our trusty inflatable’s we were ready to go! Given the extremely small opening to the cave there were ropes suspended above us to help pull us into the blackness. When inside the opening I realised the rope ran the entire length of the cave and in many dark and scary situations it was my one and only comfort blanket.The journey through the cave was not as daunting as I had first thought, apart from a section where the waters were to shallow to tube and the cave above us was too low to stand upright…….here my claustrophobia really set in, but I overcame my nerves and the experience was actually thoroughly enjoyable.
After finding our way out of the cave, we ate some lunch and headed on to our next destination, the ‘Elephant Cave’. This cave was not as vast or as interesting as the first but it did have one very unique feature.Leaving the cave a little disappointed, we were excited for our next adventure……….would it be trekking?? would it be meeting the village tribes?? After following our guide to our next destination we ended up back at the Tuk Tuk and understood through his partial english that our next activity would be kayaking back to Vang Vieng. Again we were left slightly disappointed as it seemed there would be no real trekking or interaction with the villagers.
After 15 minutes or so on the Tuk Tuk we arrived at the side of the Nam Song River where our kayaks were waiting for us.
After a brief lesson in ‘how to hold the oar’ and ‘how to row’ (which was the most interaction we had with our guides all day!) we set off down the River.
Kayaking down the River was not exactly like white water rafting but we had a great time, there were some small rapids where we nearly lost control but it was otherwise pretty smooth and we could lay back and enjoy the gorgeous limestone mountains surrounding us. We stopped off once at a Riverside Bar with a playing field attached and Steve played some volleyball while I practiced the art of Sling Shot. We had a Beerlao and hung out with the other ‘package tourists’ before finishing the 10km hike aboard our boat back to Vang Vieng.
Although we didn’t actually get to trek or to meet local villagers we had a great day and would definitely recommend the tour to anyone headed to Vang Vieng for more than a day. We did hear from a lovely Australian family that there were in fact snakes in the water, but thank god this was at the end of the day as there was no way I’d get in the water otherwise!