There’s really only one way to get to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang. It’s a stunning trip through the mountains of central Laos. As beautiful as it is, it is equally terrifying…and a few other things.
The winding road takes you high up onto mountain ridges and the lush scenery captures Laos’ natural beauty. The highland views are incredible. In the latter half of the trip, limestone mountains form an ethereal landscape.
Hairpin turns, landslides and rainy season downpours all contribute to what feels like a five hour near-death experience. Concrete barriers on cliff edges are non-existent, and trust me there are a lot of cliff edges. At one point we came across a tanker that was being dug out by a single person. Apparently rain had pooled and the road had become a pit of soft mud. We also drove through what was very obviously the location of a rock slide.
And now, I don’t want to put you out, but I spoke with a girl in VV who I knew from our two day slow-boat trip and she said they came across a flipped bus during their trip. A f***ing bus had flipped. OMFG.
Well…not in the traditional sense. I was stunned by the abundance of life on the road. Namely cows, but there was a whole host of other road users. Humans, children carrying children, chickens, pigs and retrofitted farm tiller-turned-tractor-motorbike hybrid. I was wholly surprised and happy that not one human or cow was harmed during our overland crossing. Seriously, surprised. Except for that woman who had wiped out on her motorbike.
What I didn’t expect to gain from the trip was an appreciation for how developing Laos is. On the highest ridges of mountain passes we would drive through small villages of bamboo stilt huts. Dirty, naked children ran around like a Natural Geographic Kodak moment. Babies hung from women and stray animals sniffed about for scraps of food. Bizarrely, some of the more developed villages (and I use that in the loosest terms) had a television glowing from within most huts.
Enjoy a hair-raising, insightful and stunning ride from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng!
Tip: do not even consider doing this trip hungover and if you are prone to carsickness, pop a few Gravol before leaving.