Tubing Safely in VangVieng

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The recent deaths of several ‘tubers’ in VangVieng has brought greater media coverage of this once quiet backwater than usual. Tubing started years ago as a peaceful way to enjoy the scenery, to while away an afternoon and maybe explore a cave or two along the way. For those of us old enough to remember it, tubing used to actually involve a tube.

Over the last 4-5 years, tubing has taken on a whole new facet and a large number of people no longer even tube, but just go for the partying. Bars line the riverside, offering cheap alcohol – literally by the bucketful. The latest dance tunes rock the air, with each bar competing with its neighbour for attention. Hundreds of scantily-clad tourists party the afternoon away – and they party hard!

Then add in the rope swings and slides – some the height of 3-story building and made of bamboo. The Nam Song River is traditionally very shallow, with the riverbed dug out underneath the jumps. Land in the correct place and people are generally fine. Miss the unmarked landing spot and things can get messy. Trying to do this after several buckets of vodka and red bull, a few tokes on a joint, and in some cases with a bottle of beer in hand, and something is bound to go wrong sooner or later.

Some tips for safely tubing:

– Limit your alcohol consumption. Avoid the free shots and hard liquor.

– Don’t mix mind-altering drugs with adventure activities.

– Don’t go off slides head first.

– If jumping into the river from one of the platforms or swings, check out the depth of the water first.

– Use a life jacket during rainy season.

– Tube with friends and look out for one another

– Take responsibility for your own safety and enjoyment.

For those looking for something other than tubing, VangVieng offers some fantastic opportunities. Travel a kilometre or two in any direction and you are surrounded by dramatic karst limestone mountains, quiet ethnic minority villages and some great adventure sports.

World class rock-climbing, kayaking, trekking, mountain biking and caving are all possible. Talk with one of Khiri’s travel specialists in Laos and let us show you why VangVieng still makes for a great stopover on the journey between LuangPrabang and Vientiane.