I spent my first week with family in Vientiane. My second week was where I said my good-byes and began the real backpacking trip. Fortunately, I had a cousin from Luang Prabang that would show me how the locals do new year in Luang Prabang. With her as my guide, we trailed on from Vientiane, to Vang Vieng, and finally Luang Prabang.
While I’ve heard horror stories about the road conditions between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, I just couldn’t justify buying plane ticket. A $15 bus ticket beats a $100 plane ticket in my book, plus we could stop in Vang Vieng along the way. At 6 in the morning, my cousin and I set off!
It was an uncomfortable 3 hours from Vientiane to Vang Vieng. The bus we rode was technically a minivan meant for 9, which we somehow managed to cram 15 people in. It was stuffy and uncomfortable, but the road was fine and there was air conditioning (thank god). Bathroom breaks are a plenty on the road, but sometimes you have to consider whether or not it’s worth battling the praying mantis guarding to the toilet. In my case, it was. Hey, when you gotta go you gotta go.
I was aware that Vang Vieng was known for being a backpackers party town, but this was not the experience that I was searching for on my trip. I wanted to see the land, and in the short hours we had in the town, I was able to grow a deep appreciation for the beauty of Vang Vieng.
The road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang had to have been one of the highlights of my trip. While it was a 6 hour drive, the views was beautiful (and there was much more room to get comfortable in our mini van). The scenery was lush and green and the road wound beautifully between the trees and hills. Somewhere between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, I lost my breath at the sight of the rolling green hills on our bathroom break. I wish I could remember the name of this rest stop, I highly recommend stopping by for a quick go.
To anyone traveling between cities in Laos, I highly recommend taking the road. There’s just so much more you can see on when traveling on the ground than by air.