Our trusty Lonely Planet guide gave a detailed explanation of every type of transport from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng and Vientiane, but it failed to mention that if there was ever a time to take your motion sickness medicine, this was it. The 3.5 hours of switchbacks felt like an eternity as the road took on the contours of our intestines and vice versa. Our bus was motion sickness quiet for much of the ride and most passengers were visibly green and panting in synchronization with the turns of the road.
In addition to being one of the windiest roads in the region (in the world?), it was also one of the most beautiful – fully forested mountains gave way to dwarfed valleys, where small villages took hold on mighty rivers that had helped cut a dramatic landscape.
We had the opportunity to become intimate with one of the villages along the way when our minivan blew a clutch and we waited for a replacement. In this village, life proceeded glacially; the poinsetta bushes moved faster than the cows crossing the highway.
Our minivan’s clutch was eventually replaced and our stomachs eventually straightened out, just in time for arrival in Vang Vieng. If backpackers, water sports, beer, and “magic pizzas” with illicit substances are your thing, then drop in.
We hit the road the following morning on a kayak trip to Vientiane. In reality, you only kayak part of the way and then a truck takes you the remaining 90 minutes. But as an alternative route to get some exercise and enjoy a beautiful setting, it works. And although we paddled our kayak twice as much as everyone else and nearly capsized onto a giant water buffalo dropping, we highly recommend it.
Video – Luang Prabang to Vientiane by Kayak and Road
Practical Details – Kayak Trips from Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Green Discovery Tours Vang Vieng – one of the many tour companies in Vang Vieng offering kayaking trips along the Nam Lik river in the direction of Vientiane. Their tour cost a few dollars more than the competitors, but we chose them for the newer equipment and safety credentials. Nice kayaks, great lunch, and friendly guides – recommended. About $25-$30 per person.