Splash, Drink, Float, Pass Out!

by Poi on March 8, 2011

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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.

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Kirsty in the spirit of things

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).

Rope swing - Tubing in Vang Vieng

Poi on one of the many rope swings

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?

To see more pictures of tubing check out our Facebook Fan Page


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Lenzen March 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Thanks for the insight. I’ve recently read about 3 different posts on Vang Vieng from other bloggers. Some have been positive, some negative (mostly because of drunk and obnoxious youth).

I think you put it in the right perspective, and your photo of the swing makes it look really fun.
Mike Lenzen´s last blog post ..One Year Since We Decided to Travel the World


Poi March 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm

It is so much fun! It’s easy to look on both sides of tubing but you can do it with anything, sometimes stuff like this just seems like an easy target when it’s not as bad as it seems.


Dalene - Hecktic Travels March 9, 2011 at 2:14 am

That does look awesomely fun. And like everything, it’s what you make it.

i will invite you when I go. And promise not to be douchey.


Poi March 9, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Sounds perfect – I look forward to it and I’m sure you wouldn’t have been douchy anyway 🙂


Erica March 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I go tubing every summer here in Texas so I’m sure I will fit right in! Poi, dude, you look like super man on that rope swing. You’re nuts! <3
Erica´s last blog post ..Travel and the Wonderful World of Tattoos


Poi March 9, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Thanks – all these super hero references it’snot doing my big head any good!


Sarah March 10, 2011 at 6:09 am

I think tubing has a touch of the Full Moon Party type reputation – some people have a great time, others go over the top and ruin the experience for themselves. What doesn’t sound fun about drinking a beer as you float down the river? Can’t wait to give this a go in May. You are of course both invited!
Sarah´s last blog post ..Pretending Not to be a Backpacker


Poi March 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Everything about it sounds perfect! May huh? hmmm


Michael Churm March 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I’ve finally completed reading your blog from start to finish! How am I going to get through my working days now?! :o(


Poi March 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

I meant to ask if you actually have a job – it didn’t take you long to get through everything.


Michael Churm March 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Hahaha! Yeah I do! How else would I be able to save for adventures! Though I don’t do much work!

Did you get sick after Tubing? I think I swallowed some water and was in bed for 2 days after it! Was horrible!

I was meant to ask you actually, did you get any special visa for your extended stay in Chiang Mai? Or did you just do the 60 days there then move on to Laos?


Poi March 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Ner I was fine, heard of a few people getting sick before they even went tubing which must have sucked.

We spent the whole three months in Chiang Mai, 60 day visa which we extended to 90 days and then went to Laos.


joshywashington March 11, 2011 at 2:21 am

I had a riotous blast swinging, tubing in a general state of fungus induced bliss in Vang Vien. It is like Vegas for backpackers, but instead of Blue Man Group you have insane water swings and instead of the fountain in front of the Bellagio you have the muddy river water you are about to plunge into.
joshywashington´s last blog post ..12 Ways of Looking at a Glacier


Poi March 11, 2011 at 10:49 am

That description just makes me want to rush straight back there….. spot on.


Travelmonger January 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Cover your arms and legs in wilderness areas in Southeast Asia! Mosquitoes!


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