Things to do in Vang Vieng during Laos New Year
It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog.. Not because I didn’t have anything to share (you know I always have something to say) and not because I didn’t have anything to do (sitting on a deserted island will only keep me entertained for so long)
No, the reason why I haven’t written anything is because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. My last story was about Thakhek, after which I moved on to Vang Vieng.. But in and of itself, Vang Vieng isn’t really much of an eventful place..
I happened to end up there during Laos New Year, called Song Kran. It’s based on the Buddhist calendar, so it’s date differs every year (and is celebrated in several Asian countries). It’s also not just 1 day: the festivities leading up to it go on for a day or 4 (or longer, if you don’t have anything better to do).
The day I arrived in Vang Vieng was apparently the last day the buses were going. After that, they stopped for a couple of days.. Hmmm, I didn’t know that, but no problem: I’ll just stay here then!
Now Laos New Year, or Song Kran, is also known by a different name: the waterfestival.. and that name is well-deserved: it’s all about the water! There are people in the streets throwing water at each other, spraying people with water hoses or shooting with water guns. I even had the pleasure of coming across a water truck that was spraying its full contents over the crowd! And in the meantime, there is music everywhere! Massive sound systems pop up everywhere, playing the same songs over and over again, as loud as possible.
It’s just a massive party in the streets! And it goes on and on and on! It’s unbelievable, and I really cannot explain how amazing it is! (Throwing water at Tuktuks that are going passed, only to be sprayed back by people who are in the back of a pick-up truck.. Full buckets of water being dropped on your head by strangers, only to laugh, hug you, offer you a beer and party with you!!)
But even with such an amazing vibe, you also need some other stuff to do. We were told of a blue lagoon in the area, where it would be relaxed to just sit by the river, have a drink and some food, and just chill for the day.. Sounds good!
But when we got there, it turned out that the locals also felt it was a nice place to go for Song Kran: an entire festival had popped up: there was a band playing, people were dancing and eating and drinking, the entire lagoon was filled with people. Not a quiet little afternoon after all, but an eventful, fun one with the locals.
So next day, we needed to relax some more. This time, we were going tubing. (You know, you get a big tire, in which you float on a river) But then you do it Vang Vieng style: you float for 10 meters, stop at a riverside bar for drinks, float another 50 meters, stop again for drinks, and then spend the rest of your afternoon drinking. In the end we ran out of time to actually finish our tubing 😉
But before the tubing was done, we got another taste of the waterfestival: in the river, another festival had popped up: there were locals drinking in the river, floating around on tubes, in kayaks or just wading through the water, all spraying and splashing people who passed. It was 100% crazy and amazing!
So in the end I spent 5 days in Vang Vieng, with a group of 15 amazing people. 4 of these days were pretty much filled with water and alcohol, and the fifth day we really did need to relax by the pool to regain our strength. Unfortunately it was a very hot day, and the waterfestival had ended: nobody was throwing water at me anymore ..So much for cooling down 🙁
So do you get my problem about writing? I spent an amazing time in Vang Vieng during New Year, but I can’t really say that I’ve done anything impressive or witnessed something majestic. (or maybe I did) I can’t tell you about the atmosphere of this place, because there are no words to describe it: you had to be there!
So if now you are thinking: it doesn’t really sound so special to me at all: I get it, I really do. I can only recommend that you go there next year to experience it for yourself!