Tubing down the Mekong in Vang Vien

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
77 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 10
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
55th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 20% SUMMARY RATING: World Class


Jumping into a rubber ring and drifting the 4km / 2.5 miles through lush jungle, emerald green paddy fields and looking up at the serene karst hills is hard to beat and, whilst the vibe may have changed over the years from tractor-style tires and booming bars to tubes / kayaks and more regulation, its still super fun and a must if anyone is travelling through this picture-perfect part of Laos

A few basic tips:

  • The vibe pre 2012 was a very different one where the Vang Vien town itself was a full blown party town that seemed to revolve around all night raves and day time with people stoned AF watching episodes of Friends on beanbags.  What came with that was an experience where you drifted down the river on old tractor tires off your face as you swang from ropes in the jungle canopy headfirst into the rushing water below.  Now, whilst this was indeed great fun, it also came with accidents (which for anyone who did experiencing the old school tubing, this would have came as no surprise) and wasn’t exactly sustainable for what is a very conservative country.  The changes now have closed the rave bars and made the drifting down the river more safe
  • The town of Vang Vien itself is not worth spending much time in.  Get yourself to the tubing or hikes in the nearby stunning countryside
  • For the tubing itself, it’s hard to get wrong.  You’ve got two main companies offering it – they’ll pick you up and drop you off / take you back depending on which one you go with


#1 Tubing down the Mekong as the sun was setting, really was a beautiful experience

#2 The luscious surrounding country side that you pass by along the way

#3 The lash

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone