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The Truth About Tubing In Laos

By Alan Fisher

October 18, 2019 at 10:21am


For as long as I wanted to travel Asia, I always heard the famous tales of tubing in Laos.

It sounded like the loosest adventure/piss up possible and I was dying to give it a shot.

Tubing, if you don't know, is where you float down a river in a rubber ring.

Along the way, pulled in by workers,  you stop in numerous bars and have a drink, or two, along with playing games like beer pong, football and frisbee, but the main objective is definitely drinking.

Have a look at this video. The tubing fun kicks in around the sixteen minute mark:

So when I decided to travel Asia it was definitely high up on my lists of things to do, along with some temples of course...

First thing's first, getting to Laos.

Pain in the arse.

I was coming from the northern parts of Thailand, which a lot of people do, and it was a tough aul journey. Eight hour bus, 14 hour slow boat or a seven hour fast boat, which we did and is extremely dangerous, and then another bus to Vang Vieng.

As I said, pain in the arse, so I recommend flying into Laos if it's an option for you but even at that you still have to find a way to Vang Vieng.

Right off the bat, Vang Vieng is not a great town.

I found it quite dirty and there's not a whole lot going on. A handful of half decent restaurants, one or two bars and mediocre accommodation wouldn't have me running back.

But we're here for the tubing; the mecca of getting pissed in a life threatening situation and I was still looking forward to it regardless of the town.

You wake up early, get collected in a van, grab your rubber rings and head for the lake.

You and a few of your best mates floating down a river in South East Asia, it doesn't get much better than that, and then you see the first bar after a couple of minutes and get dragged in on a rope by a worker.

This is where the party starts.

Grab one of the famous buckets (a full naggin and red bull) and begin mingling with all the other partygoers.

This bar had beer pong for us to dive into and we also managed to play a quick game of fairly pissed football. The Irish versus the Swedish - of course we won.

I can't stress how much fun we had in this bar but you know in your head there are plenty more bars along the river.

Or so we thought from previous stories we had heard.

The next bar we stopped in was basically a massive sing along session on tables because everyone is fairly on their way. Again, this was a lot of fun, but on to the next bar.

This is where the fun drifted onto a slippy downward slope. The next bar had about 10 people in it and we were soon informed that this was the last stop.


We had heard stories of 15, 20, 40 bars and we got two and a half.

We later found out that until a couple of years ago, several people died every year from falling in the shallow, rocky river. From that, things had to be put under control.

Now, you float down the river and get collected by a local taxi.

Night over.

So was it worth it?

Personally, no.

I literally went to Laos to do this as I knew very little else about the country and looking back, I wouldn't recommend doing it.

I did have the time of my life for the five or so hours I was out tubing, but after the effort of getting in and out of the country and the fact there's little else to do in Vang Vieng, I'd say skip it on your Asian travels.

Luang Prabang was the nicest town we visited in Laos with nice restaurants and cafés, and you also get to check out the magical Kuang Si Falls.

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