If you inform yourself about the activities in Vang Vieng, you’ll usually always hear something about the tubing. Well, that’s not surprising. For a long time, tubing and wild parties were exactly what people associated with Vang Vieng. However, this is no longer the case. The reason for this is that there were some deadly accidents. In the past quite a few tourists died while tubing in the Nam Song River. In 2011, there were even 27 dead tourists counted (most due to tubing). As a result, the Laos government has taken some measures. Most of the bars along the river have been closed. Also, they removed a lot of rope swings and slides at the river. Generally everything is more controlled now. Most likely you won’t see a single drunken tourist tubing. Due to the many bad reports in the past, you’ll only see a relatively small number of tourists opting for this activity anyway.
So, is tubing in Vang Vieng a thing of the past? No, it definitely isn’t. You can still do the activity. The only difference is that it is not so turbulent anymore. For example, there will be no people at the river’s edge to encourage you to drink. Also, as we already mentioned, there will be way less tourists. Especially drunken ones. Nowadays most people do the activities sober. Probably you even book a tour including tubing and you won’t see anyone else. Whenever we did go tubing, we were alone. Only a guide was with us. But that was fine and good for our safety. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the tubing in Vang Vieng.
What tubing actually is
If you don’t know much about Vang Vieng (and it’s past) you probably never heard about the tubing. But the activity is basically very simple. You put yourself in a tube and drive down the Nam Song River. Tubing in the Nam Song River is very relaxed. You may even need to help out with your arms to get forward. You’ll have to anyway, because you can’t navigate otherwise. But you have to navigate. For example to avoid huge stones in the river. Due to the stronger current, the activity is most exciting when it rains.
Is tubing in Vang Vieng dangerous?
Yes, we can’t deny that some foreigners died in the past because of tubing. Some have drowned and others have broken their necks at the rapids. That all sounds worse than it actually is. You have to keep in mind, that probably all of those tourists were drunk and most likely they didn’t go with a guide. Both things that you can easily avoid. We did tubing several times and never really had any security concerns. However, we also had a guide with us. But this is included anyway. At least if you don’t steal a tire somewhere and go all alone. If you book normally an experienced local always drives in front of you with his canoe. This is especially important because of the rapids, since they can be quite dangerous. Most deaths in the past were because of them.
Well, in our opinion tubing in Vang Vieng is a relatively safe activity. If you’re sober and go with a guide there’s actually nothing to worry about. There are way more dangerous things in Vang Vieng. Nevertheless, you should be careful. Because we know from experience that there is indeed a serious danger. The chance of getting a sunburn is very high. If you aren’t careful you may get a really serious sunburn, where your burned skin starts to peel. That’s because you’re in the water and the sun’s rays are reflected by the water. It is especially important that you protect your arms. Sunscreen is a must! In addition, you should take care with taking pictures. If your phone falls into the river, you will never find it again. Therefore, unfortunately we have no pictures of the activity (sorry). We didn’t want to take that risk. We’re just too clumsy for that.
Where you can go tubing in Vang Vieng
There is one simple answer to this question: The Nam Song River. However, we don’t recommend that you get a tube on your own and just go down the river. Many tourists have already made bad experiences in this regard. So, just book a tour and stay safe. Actually you could also just book the tubing activity. But it’s not really worth it. If you add some other activities you’ll get more for your money. Where you book is up to you. Actually you can book directly at the hotel. But also a booking over the internet is okay. We would be happier about the latter but well, it’s up to you.