The 2013 Tubing Experience, Laos
tubing in vang vieng
Okay, so we have all seen crazy YouTube videos of how super fun tubing was back in the day… Before most bars were shut down, zip lines were removed and all the slides and other fun (but slightly deathy) things we could jump off were banned.
But what is tubing like now?
Is it still worth going to Vang Vieng to ‘get in the tubing’?
Well I am currently right here in the tubing capital of Vang Vieng, and I have recently experience tubing as it stands in 2013.
Unfortunately I never got a chance to visit before now, so I guess I can’t compare it as accurately as some of you guys who got involved in the craziness of the past years, but I can tell you about my time in that small, slightly off coloured, rubber ring on the river.
tubing in vang vieng
A Much Quieter River Now…

My first thoughts once getting allocate my tube and walking down to the river was that it was quiet.

Almost ‘dead’.
It was just the four of us, with another small group of backpackers in their rings in the distance however it is low season here at the moment, so I wasn’t too surprised, but I couldn’t stop daydreaming about what the atmosphere would have been like in the peak of it all (you can check out Chris’s tubing experience from 2012 here).
We started floating down stream, looking onto the bank you see burnt out bars and knocked down walls, it’s quite sad really. The ride itself was relaxing though! The gentle sound of the water flowing and the beautiful mountainous scenery around us. That was until we started to float in to the bushes at the side of the river, when we finally emerged out of the greenery we were greeted by several, huge spiders sitting on our legs and stomach.
It was terrifying, it’s safe to say I ruined the peaceful ambiance by screaming and trying to flick them off my body!
Once this horrendous ordeal was over, we were met by our first bar. It was about time!
backpacker tubing vang vieng laos
Party Bars…With Much Less Party!

The bar itself was great fun, a great mix of people and activities going on. I headed straight for the sunbathing area, but there was also games of volleyball and basketball. Now this is what I expected tubing to be like, only it was still much calmer than what I’ve heard it was like before.

There was a small party vibe at this bar, with games of flip cup and beer pong, but still nothing to write home about. It was busy, probably because there are now only about three bars on the river. We didn’t stop again after this, the other bars we came across were empty , so we just finished the tubing route on the river.
The rapids were exciting, being thrown around made it that little bit more ‘crazy’ I suppose.
During our day tubing I only had a couple of drinks, just because I felt like the party atmosphere wasn’t very strong. The time we spent on the river, and even at the bar, had a very chilled out vibe to it. I would definitely say that tubing was different to how I imagined it, I wouldn’t say it was a let down, but I think if you go tubing now, you need to think of it as more a relaxing experience rather than a day to get wasted and jump off stuff.
People still need to visit Vang Vieng and experience the town and what it has to offer, but go tubing with an open mind, as it has changed.
For the better or worse? You decide.


June 5, 2013
Hi Sam, Sounds interesting. I went tubing in Thailand once, but didn't see any riverside bars. Why did it all shut down in Laos?

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