The Vang Vieng Free Whisky Trail

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trail in vang vieng

The Trail

When you think about Laos all these beautiful turquoise waterfalls pop into mind, as do green valleys of rice fields and emerald lakes. However, after spending 14 days in this breathtaking country these sceneries come attached to a taste, a smell, a hangover…
On this post, I will let you in the most epic bar to bar experience in Vang Vieng. Why is that? Because it is free. FREE WHISKY for everyone, no exceptions (well, except underage). So aside from the infamous Tubing experience, I am sure most have heard of, Vang Vieng has a just as crazy inland must do for the night crawlers.

Chillao Hostel

As you walk around Vang Vieng during the evening you will hear an energetic chant going “Beer Laos Beer Laos Beer Laos” as local vendors try and lure you into their bars. The atmosphere suddenly turns from laid-back relaxing-by-the-river to a growing whisky frenzy all around town. I knew my hostel had free whisky for guests at certain times, what I did not know was that Chillao gave us as many whisky bottles as we wanted/could during three hours. No, this is not a typo. From 19:00 to 22:00 we could enjoy the company of other guests (also non-guests) with a bottle in hand. The staff there exceptionally cool, full of smiles during the day and ready to hop on the table while deejaying to get the mass moving. I had a private room there which was quite nice, real comfy big double bed and a small yet clean bathroom. My friends weren’t as pleased with the dorm beds which they compared to thick blocks of rock. Honestly though, if you’re venturing through the Whisky Trail for the night I guaranty sleeping won’t be an issue.

VIVA Pub

When spirits are high near whisky wrap up time Chillao staff will signal the more than excited crowd to the next free whisky spot. Yep. Another full hour of free whisky and coke. At Viva Pub, aside from the complimentary whisky and coke from 22:00 to 23:00, you will also find beer pong tables, happy balloons and a big enough dancefloor for everyone to trip the light as if they’ve downed two bottles on their own. The staff here are crazy in the best possible way, they will make sure you have a memorable (or complete blacked out) night.
Now I will give you the best tip yet: The Padthai stand by Viva Bar. Do not miss it. This is the best Pad Thai I have ever had, considering I spent a whole month in Thailand and two weeks in Laos. There is obviously the X- Factor of being high as a kite when you walk out of Viva but trust me this will save you from what could be a life-threatening hangover the next morning.

Sakura Bar

If you want to change up a bit the vibe for round two, worry not! The Whisky Trail is long and full of surprises. You can opt for the number one competitor of Viva Pub, the Sakura Bar. The staff there are also very friendly and there are plenty of beer pong tables to down your drinks with your friends. But what is especially nice about Sakura Bar is the open area. It’s quite a big bar and on the back, you have a cool area decorated with some trippy lights where you can chat and make new acquaintances. Free whisky hours at Sakura Bar go from 20:00 till 21:00, so you can still head to either Chillao or Viva after.
There are other bars around town with same same, but different setup. These are the ones I recommend due to proximity (drunken wandering might culminate in misplacement) and chirpy atmosphere.
So to put it nice and easy here is my prefered Whisky Trail timetable:
  • Chillao Hostel: 19:00 – 22:00
  • Sakura Bar: 20:00 – 21:00
  • Viva Pub: 22:00 – 23:00

Tubing

tubing in vang vieng

How could I not mention Tubing when the subject is partying in Vang Vieng? If you haven’t heard of Laos’ must do tubing experience, this is your lucky day. Imagine floating down the river surrounded by tall green mountains while sipping on your drink of choice with your buddies towards the next bar. Essentially a wet pub crawl in a sublime setting. Read on for the do’s and don’ts on Tubing for a more than epic wet and wild evening.

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Pick Your Tube

There are a few Tubing agencies you can choose from to have your drunken-down-the-river experience, and it appears that the most popular is the Yellow Tube one. The difference is essentially the bars you float to during your ride. There used to be loads of bars open at the same time for Tubing as well as flying fox, swings and slides to jump from. However, due to a large number of accidents, these have been banned and now as little as 3 bars are open at a time, alternating every other day. The last bar, however, is a constant finish line, so be sure not to miss it. In most bars, there is a local ready to throw you an empty bottle tied to a rope in case you float the wrong way and miss the bar. This does not apply to the last bar though, it’s a challenge you’ll have to conquer on your own. The Yellow Tubing company charges 55,000kip per person and another 60,000kip as a deposit for the tube. This deposit is the smartest business move ever, keep reading and you’ll see why.

Keep an Eye on Your Tube

This may sound like an obvious remark but KEEP AN EYE on your tube. There are some kids around that might jump into yours and accidentally – or not – float away with it. People do get pretty crazy and end up stumbling back to town and leaving their tubes (and 60,000kip deposit) in the hands of clever locals that make a living out of these lost treasures.

The Whisky

As mentioned before a lot changed in Tubing due to unsafe behaviour, as did the alcohol variety. So if you’re not a beer person or don’t wish to spend too much on buckets I would recommend you to buy a bottle of whisky and coke in a market with your crew and mix them for a special take-away blend. Sip as you float.

Waterproof Bag

If you don’t have one, get one. As hard as it is, you might want to try and keep your valuables dry. They have them in all colours and sizes all around town. And if you do take any clothes at all, take one you’re not overly fond of. Chances are you’ll lose them anyway.

Don’t Miss the Last Bar

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Do not miss the last bar. I am unsure of where you will end up if you do, and after a long tubing day, the last thing you need is to be walking around on your swimsuits searching for home.

Be Safe and Have Fun

vang vieng tubing

Last but not least, just have fun. Tubing might be a once in a lifetime experience where you’re floating in great company in between vivid green mountains and loud lively bars. Relax, dance and take in all of this beautiful experience. Be safe and don’t do anything that could hurt you or anyone around you.

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