Destinations Magazine

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with Kids

By Livingthedreamrtw @livingdreamrtw

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with KidsLaos is a magical country with a rich history and culture. Vang Vieng is around 4 hours from the country's capital Vientiane. The landscape is stunning with its majestic lime stone karst mountains and the Nam song river runs right through the town.

Vang Vieng has a reputation for being a party town where the young crowds flock to drink and party on the river. While we found this to be partly true we stayed at the South side of the town where it was quiet and peaceful. Our accommodation looked out over a working farm with the Karst Mountains as a backdrop, and we enjoyed spending our mornings looking out over the view in awe.

We met another travelling family while in Vang Vieng and decided to do a day trip together and this was one of the highlights of our stay in the town. Our day trip included a visit to the Elephant Temple, caving in tubes, lunch and kayaking down the Nam Song river back to the guesthouse.

Elephant Temple

We were picked up at the guesthouse in a songathew and taken out to Elephant Temple. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learnt alot of things about the Laos culture and Buddhist religion. The kids were also intrigued to find the remnants of a bomb used to make a bell in the temple. We had previously learnt about the UXO problem in Laos with over 80,000 unexploded bombs still buried in bushland and jungle. Now when hiking or driving out into the country they ask "Are we safe"? "Are there bombs here"?

The Cave and Tubing

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with Kids

After the Elephant Temple we walked through a local village to the caves. It is high season in Laos at the moment and there were several other groups at the caves that day too. We had the option to have lunch first or go kayaking. Looking at the caves we decided to go caving first in the hope that we would miss the majority of the crowds.

The caves are pitch black and about 4 km in length. As you enter the cave there is a rope that goes along the length of the cave, however there is only one. This means if you are coming back out of the cave you have to let go of the rope and find your own way out as to let those coming in hold the rope and find their way into the cave.

As we were entering the cave a big group of people were coming out of the cave. They did not want to let go of the rope and were being pushed off by the guides. There were screams and objections as the group tried to keep hold of the rope, which upset some of the younger children in our party.

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with Kids

In the end one of the adults in the party volunteered to take some of the younger kids back to the light and safety of the banks of the river and we pushed on through the cave.

After this encounter the cave became eerily quiet and extra dark. We pushed on through the cave for about 1 km where the guide made us get out of our tubes and walk into a big cave. We were able to stand up straight once we entered the cave and it was quite amazing once inside. The space was large and there many different rock formations to look at.

We turned back not long after and were relieved to finally see the light at the end of the cave. We returned to the banks of the river to see that lunch was served. We were served 2 chicken and vegetable skewers with fried rice, a baguette and fruit. It was a feast and the food was delicious and fresh. We ended up with lots of leftovers as the children could hardly eat this much food. Luckily we had plastic zip lock bags and were able to take the food for later.

Kayaking

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with Kids

After lunch we piled back into the songathew where we were taken to the spot we would launch our kayaks. I was most excited about this part of the day trip and I was not disappointed. As we kayaked down the river we saw daily life going on around us. We passed little houses with locals gardening and tending to animals and children playing in the river while washing. We got a view of Vang Vieng we never would have seen had we been confined to cars or bikes.

On the way down the river we stopped at the Nam Song River Garden restaurant to have a rest and a swim. The children loved this place as there were swings in the water, a slide and a zip line. We spent an hour here swimming and having fun before we moved on to complete the rest of the kayak down the river.

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with Kids

The kayak to our guesthouse was about 5km from our stop at the garden restaurant and we enjoyed a leisurely paddle while watching the world go by. The backdrop of the karst mountain was truly spectacular and this trip became a major highlight of my time in Laos.

We found this day trip was easy with kids. We doubled up in the tubes and kayaks and the small hike to the cave was straightforward. We don't usually do package tour activities but were happy we did this one as our guides were very knowledgeable and we were happy to have extra adults per child while we were kayaking down the river.

Vang Vieng, Laos: Kayaking and Caving with Kids

Vang Vieng is an adventure lovers dream as it is filled with adrenalin packed activities. We only scratched the surface of what is available here, but whether you are young or old there is something here for everyone.


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