Going tubing in Vang Vieng is something that seems to be on every backpackers itinerary in SE Asia and most, like us, spend a long time looking forward to it.
The general impression we seemed to get that was the first timers, although excited were very skeptical of everything no doubt thanks to all the write ups saying that if you go on a rope swing you are going to die, but more on that later.
I could go into detail about how to go tubing, where to get your tube from etc but the fact is the whole of Vang Vieng is centered around it, it will take you all of 30 seconds to figure it out.
Once you get to the river with your tube it’s best to walk (in fact it’s a must) 15 minutes further upstream – this is where all the action is and you don’t want to miss it. By the time you reach Q-Bar chances are you’ll have already had a few shots and a couple of wristbands out on you to encourage you to come back, it doesn’t take long to get in the party spirit here with music coming from every direction.
Despite being called tubing many people now opt not to bother with the actual tube and it’s easy to see why. The first bar (Q-bar) doesn’t really fill up until after 1pm and many stay there for the rest of the day, the next couple of bars down also fill up as the day goes on but they can also be reached by foot and that’s as far as many people make it. You should tube at least once though, the bars further down have nothing like the atmosphere of the first few but have a steady stream of tubers throughout the day, many of whom probably wish they hadn’t raced off so quick.
I did miss floating between the bars when we went by foot however it’s not cheap to hire the tubes if you’re doing it every day for a while.
So here’s the biggy, the rope swings are not dangerous, they were far better than I was expecting, not the death traps I had read about. From what I saw they all go into deep water (even though the river was low while we were there) and had someone at the top looking out for tubers and giving you advice. Nobody wants someone to die at their bar.
I personally have an obsession with water and jumping off things so I couldn’t say no, after 2 days tubing I had just about swung or jumped off everything in sight, as the day went on and I got a bit drunk I stopped, simple as that (swinging that is not drinking of course).
The only thing that is dangerous is doing something you are not comfortable with, Kirsty didn’t think she would be able to control herself on the swings so she didn’t do them but nor did she think everyone who did them were suicidal. I don’t know how to wrestle bears, so I don’t.
There is the other side to this argument, people do stupid things when they are drunk or take drugs, this is true and nothing I write here is going to change that. It is also the case however that these people are hugely in the minority, considering the amount of people who go tubing every single day there are actually very few incidents.
Tubing is ridiculously fun and I’m desperate to go back soon and again shortly after that. Like everything you do just don’t be a douche bag and don’t be pressured into doing something you don’t want to.
When you do decide to go tubing in Vang Vieng – Invite me?
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