Houay Sang Au

Here you’ll find travel reports about Houay Sang Au. Discover travel destinations in Laos of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

54 travelers at this place:

  • Day9

    8 days and counting

    May 11, 2017 in Laos

    As our time in Vang Vieng carried on we fell more in love with the place. We didn't just extend once, but twice, totalling our stay to 7 nights.

    Most of our time consisted of enjoying the swimming pool down the road at a luxury hotel that cost only £3 to use, most of the time we even got the place to ourselves. The backdrop behind the pool was of the mountainous region of Laos, which was stunning as ever.

    After the pool we would head to our favourite chill place and relax watching Friends and usually ordering dinner or visiting our favourite restaurant, a vegetarian and vegan place which was delicious! The aubergine burger would have to be my favourite.

    As routine, at 8pm we would head to the first bar for the hour of free whiskey and at 10pm move onto the next bar, our favourite, called Viva.

    On the last day we headed to highly recommended viewpoint. The half hour trek to the top was along a very unmarked path. However the pano view of Vang Vieng at the top was definitely worth the trek up. But by the end I'm pretty sure I could fill a swimming pool with the amount of sweat I produced. After soaking up the views we headed back just in time to make it in time for our bus to Luang Prabang.

    We were both very sad to be leaving Vang Vieng after meeting so many people and loving it so much. However, couldn't tell if the the bar staff were happy we wouldn't be drinking all their free whiskey or sad to see their best customers go. Personally I think they should be grateful to us after all the free promotion we gave out about their bar and will continue to recommend it.
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  • Day4


    May 6, 2017 in Laos

    One thing that is a must do in Vang Vieng is tubing. This activity involves floating down the river for the duration of the afternoon and stopping off at bars along the waters edge.

    At 12.30pm we headed out on our tubes and I've never had so much fun (and alcohol) in one day.

    At the first bar we enjoyed some drinking games such as beer pong and flip cup, both I can say I wasn't very good at. At the next bar it was more chilled and we sat by the water, enjoying our drinks and the views. The final bar was definitely the best, with the heat of the day people decided it would be fun to have a water fight which was much needed to cool off.

    Despite all the alcohol and drinking you couldn't ignore the stunning scenery around us and the natural beauty of Laos.

    But at 6pm we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hostel. However, seeing as there was free alcohol at 8pm that couldn't go a miss, so we had some dinner to line the stomach then carried out our usual routine of following the free alcohol. That night there was also a jungle party on, so continued our night there. Having had a very full on day I hadn't quite thought about how I would feel the next day... oops.
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  • Day20

    Another set of stairs

    November 13 in Laos

    We started our day with another set of stairs. This time about 100 more than the caves. Before leaving Luang Prabang, we opted for a hike up Mt Phousi. The mountain is named after a hermit, who took residence in a cave and taught the people about Buddhism. At the top of the mountain is a stupa dedicated to the monk, Si. About halfway up, there is an overlook, where we took a few minutes to take pictures and enjoyed the view. A bodhi tree, given as a gift from India, provides shade and a place rest. But not for long. We commenced the stairs again, zigzagging our way to the top. The view of Luang Prabang was beautiful, and we took it in from all 360 degrees. In the distance we could see a large pagoda, as well as the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers; both flow on either side of the town. We descended on the other side of the mountain, where we got to see a Buddha footprint. This was on my bucket list, so I was very excited. Supposedly the Buddha left footprints both as a symbolic reminder of the path, as well as an actual demarcation of his presence. There are about 3,000 of these footprints in Asia, but I’ve never actually seen one. This one was preserved, with a small structure built around it. The footprint was about 5 feet long, with heel and toe impressions very clear.

    Leaving Mt Phousi also meant leaving Puang Prabang. We drove south, toward Vang Vieng, with the intention of enjoying the scenery. Laos is about 70% mountains, so we were looking forward to taking in some beautiful views on our four hour drive, which included “comfort” stops and a lunch break. Unfortunately, the wet season was unkind to the roads, so the conditions made for a much longer drive. Also, there was rain and low lying clouds, so we didn’t get to see the peaks we had hoped. But there is always beauty to be had. The cloud covered peaks seemed mystical. Karsts shot up and into the heavens, and we could not tell how high. Occasionally, there would be a break in the clouds, and we could see that the mountains reached fairly high altitudes. One of the passes, where we got out and walked in the fog, was over 3,000 feet in elevation. We started out at about 1000 in Luang Prabang.

    We stopped in a small village (Kari) for lunch, then worked our way south to Vang Vieng. Along the way, we saw several farms, where the rice harvest was underway. All of them were cutting the rice by hand. Sometimes there would be a single person cutting the rice and other times there would be a whole team of 6-8 people working the field. We watched as they swung a sickle across the stocks, leaving a wake of rice piles as they moved. We also saw farmers tending to other crops, such as hops, corn, and rubber trees. Cows and buffalos walked freely along the road, though we were told that you have to pay the other farmer, if your cattle tramples their land.

    On arrival in Vang Vieng, it initially stopped raining, so we walked to dinner without our rain jackets, but we got to the restaurant in time to avoid the rain...and then a downpour. We weren’t in a hurry, so we waited. When 7:15 came, we decided it wasn’t going to stop raining, so we headed out into the weather. It was coming down slowly and it was warm, so it wasn’t bad. I’m just hoping that my clothes will be dry by morning.

    I’m not crazy about Vang Vieng. Compared to Luang Prabang, it is louder and more active. We read that several years ago the government had to put a halt to some of the partying in the town, as it was getting out of control. It had become a heathen’s delight, where young backpackers drank themselves into stupors and did ridiculous things. It still has a party vibe and there are 20-somethings everywhere, looking as if they haven’t been home in months. I’m happy that we are only transiting here and leave for Vientiane in the morning. I don’t see myself returning here in the future.
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  • Day38

    Vang Vieng

    October 17 in Laos

    Obwohl nur als praktischer Zwischenstopp auf unserer Route gewählt, ist dieses Fleckchen Erde einer der Orte, der uns bisher mit am besten gefallen hat.

    Heute bin ich endlich das erste Mal Klettern gewesen. :-) Mit Roller und Boot zum Kletterspot. So soll das sein! Herrlich!

    Am Ende des Tages gab es dann noch ein fulminantes Unwetter, mit einem Drink im Trockenen unter einem Palmenblätterdach. Fast romantisch ... wäre da nicht bei Rückkehr unser teils überschwemmtes Zimmer inklusive nasser Klamotten gewesen. Trotzdem schön. :-)Read more

  • Day35

    Vang Vieng

    October 14 in Laos

    Angekommen im Städtchen Vang Vieng, gelegen am Nam Xong Fluss, umgeben von Karstfelsen und Regenwald. Ein Paradies für Naturliebhaber und bis 2012 zusätzlich ein touristisch höchst umstrittener Ort.

    Beim Tubing in Vang Vieng ließ man sich (v.a. wohl viele Australier und Engländer) früher den ganzen Tag in Traktorreifen den Fluß hinunter von Bar zu Bar treiben oder sprang von selbstkonstruierten Bretterkonstruktionen an einem Seil ins Wasser. Vor allem gegen Ende der Trockenzeit ein äußerst gefährliches Vergnügen, bei dem Alkohol und Drogen keinen geringen Einfluss gehabt haben werden. 2011 gab es dann wohl rund zwei Dutzend Todesfälle beim Tubing. Das sorgte international für Aufsehen und negative Schlagzeilen in den Medien. Die Behörden schritten ein und beendeten Chaos. Die illegalen Bars am Fluss wurden geschlossen.

    Mal sehen, was dieser transformierte Ort für uns zu bieten hat. :-)
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  • Day36

    Vang Vieng

    October 15 in Laos

    Start in den Tag mit Yoga am Nachbar-Pool, während Jan von einem Thailänder zum Frühstück eingeladen wird. Spaziergang zu einer Höhle mit kleiner Badelagune. Relaxing und Leute beobachten am Fluss. Hey, da kommen ja die beiden Amis aus unserem Kochkurs völlig betrunken mit Tubing-Reifen aus dem Wasser! :) Seit neuestem ist Tubing doch nur noch mit Schwimmwesten und ohne Alkohol erlaubt ... So so...Read more

  • Day37

    Vang Vieng

    October 16 in Laos

    Heute war ein von Fotos nicht einzufangender Tag. Allein auf dem Tuk Tuk jagte ein wunderschöner Landschaftseindruck den nächsten. "Fifty Shades of green" - passt!

    Außerdem mit schwimmenden Reifen und Stirnlampen tief in einer dunklen Höhle gewesen, Kayak gefahren auf dem Nham Song River und eine von asiatischen Touristen überbevölkerte Lagune besucht. Ein Schauspiel. Wichtig: Am Rand stehen und laut kreischen, wenn jemand mit Schwimmweste ins Wasser springt. Was alternativ natürlich immer geht: Foto Foto Foto ...Read more

  • Day15

    To Vang Vieng

    February 15 in Laos

    I don't think we will ever get used to Lao-ish time. We decided to book the bus trip through the hostel. We were told a tuk tuk will pick us up at 8:30am and the bus would leave at 9am. The tuk tuk picked us up at 8:50am and then proceeded to pick up another 8 people. Luckily everything is on Lao-ish time and our minivan hadn't even started loading up. The journey begins. The journey was actually one of the best we've taken, comfortable and the driver drove like an old man so it was actually nice and smooth! I even had a couple of naps 😊 As its Chinese New Year tomorrow, the price of hostels are pretty high so we decided to stay in a dorm which turned out to be great. A hot powerful shower, comfy bed and a rooftop with a beautiful view of sunset, see pic below.

    Today would have been my dad's 78th birthday and although I feel pretty home sick I'm also so thankful. In terms of my health I literally couldn't be happier. Normally this time of year I'm really ill and I pretend to get on with normality. This year I've possibly had the most stressful couple of months since buying a flat and losing my job and yet I've not had a single attack. Touch wood, I'm done with it and when I come back to the UK I'd love to begin my path to raising awareness of non-epileptic disorder, something I've suffered with for nearly 7 years.

    I decided to have a night in reading my book while Will decided to hit the town. There are two bars in Vang Vieng that in the evening give out free Lao Lao, of course that's where Will went! I think he had quite the merry night!

    In the morning we went to the climb up the local view point. We left a lot later than expected, *cough* Will slept... I wonder why... but that did not stop us. It was a very very sweaty, very hot, very steep hike up to the top of Big Pha Nger, but such a lovely lovely day. We then cambered down and did its smaller sister Pha Nger. It was so peaceful and although a bit hazy a really amazing view. Altogether we walked for 5 hours and then decided to get a tuk tuk back to save an hour of walking. We stopped on the river side of the town for a well deserved Grilled Tilapia, salad and fried rice. ☺️ What a great find. The owner and his family were so welcoming, we were the only tourists there and he asked us to join them on their table to drink Beer Lao. It was so much fun. The family were already very drunk when we joined and it was so interesting how you can have so much fun with botched Lao and English speaking. The owner then invited us for a wedding the next day. We didn't know if he was serious but got ready for him to pick us up and he did. Neither of us had clothes suitable for a wedding so we felt very odd. But what an incredible day!! Everyone welcomed us from the very beginning and loved having sooo many pictures taken with us. Their clothes were so colourful and beautiful, it was such an honour to be invited. They insisted on us drinking lots, eating and doing a lot of Laos dancing. Also wow, can the Laos drink. We experienced a taster of this yesterday when we sat with the family but didn't realise they would do it for an entire day! Every glass of Beer Lao they poured they followed by "full" which means down it. The first couple we joined in but it was only 11am!

    At one point I nipped to the loo and came back to see Will teaching the men how to do the macerena. The guys were completely fixated on learning this dance and thought they were the coolest people on earth! They even made Will do it so they could record it on their phones so they could practise. Later on in the night a Hollywood song came on and I taught them my attempts of bollywood dancing too. Everyone was so friendly!

    We felt so guilty that we hadn't paid for anything so we asked the owner of the restaurant how we can gift money. We paid 200,000 Kip between the two of us which bought them 24 bottles of beer and they went wild for it! They did a huge announcement presenting us gifting the crates to the bride and groom and then we had our own special dance with them. They then invited us back to their house for even more drinks and dancing. It was 7pm and it was time to get out of the madness of constant drinking so we started walking to the town centre approx 1km, but soon realised this was going to be difficult, so we found some guests we had been drinking with and jumped in the back of their pick-up truck. Another thing off the bucket list. Today was by far the most welcoming and most incredible day of our journey so far. We have had small snippets of the Laos hospitality but this was just incredible. We can't wait to see more of Laos. We were only supposed to spend a couple of days in Vang Vieng but think we will be here a bit longer.

    The next day we hired a scooter and visited 2 caves and the blue lagoon 1. Although really busy it was still pretty fun to watch people dive off the top of a tree into the pool. In the evening we had dinner and chilled with a couple of brits that were staying in the same hotel playing President, a pretty fun card game. Obviously Dr Will as he is now being named everywhere was president and I was Vice Donkey 😂

    The next morning we woke up very early and on the spur of the moment decided its time to move on. We didn't have a clue where our next stop would be so we got to the bus station early so we could decide. Phonsavan was the winner!
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  • Day92

    Vang Vieng

    December 23, 2014 in Laos

    Now this town is something different. Absolutely packed with tourists and they don't come for the once again stunning landscape. To make perfectly clear to you what this town is about, as soon as you get out of the bus, there are people shoving a voucher for a free drink in your hand. And in the evening, when you go collect this free drink you realize that the bar across the street has free drinks from 9-10 PM. And a bit further down the road from 10-10.30 PM. And everywhere they have the equipment for beer pong or flip cup. Thus, there is a ton of party tourists here. And for the hangover induced lazy day the following morning there are a handful of bars showing endless reruns of Friends. Vang Vieng used to be famous for the drugs floating around - one was allegedly able to get pretty much anything - but government seemed to have successfully ended this. We weren't even asked if we wanted to buy anything,

    But if you look beyond the party stuff, the town has a lot to offer. After we collected a number of free drinks the first night, we slept in the first morning - Sunday - and decided to head to the blue lagoon and the nearby cave. To get there one could rent a car, tuktuk, bikes, quads and even go carts - so, naturally, we walked. 7 km at noon in the blazing sun. Smart move clairsten, smart move. But once we arrived we could hop into the lagoon with seriously cold water. Very refreshing. After that we explored the cave which was really nice and huge, but nothing compared to Kong Lor really. In the evenings we stilled our slight craving for Western food with a steak for 3 EUR. That should do it for the next 3 months again... ;).

    The last day we went for a hike to a waterfall through the mountainous area around the town. That was really fun cause the trip not only included walking up and down steep paths but also climbing over rocks, dipping into the waterfall basin, wading through a river a couple of times and walking through dense, 2m high grass. But another sign that most people aren't here for this kind of activity was the fact that we were the only ones to have booked said trek.

    More popular are kayaking and tubing, where you rent an inflated truck tyre and just float through the river. Seems to be quite relaxing but we chose to rather go hiking in the end, which was a good decision as the nature was absolutely beautiful!

    So, we really enjoyed our time in Vang Vieng and absolutely recommend it. Just get a guest house a little bit outside the city centre ;).
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  • Day142

    Stray - Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

    September 8, 2015 in Laos

    We woke in the dark to walk across empty streets and watch the alms giving ceremony to the local Buddhist monks. Everyday at sunrise a procession of monks builds from the 30 temples within the city to collect alms given at the roadside by locals. The alms include bread, rice and other foods.

    As the sky turned from ebony to navy, a drum beat rumbled from the temple we had chosen to sit across from. Out of the steps came a line of monks in bright saffron robes, a flash of bold colour contrasting with the muted tones of grey and blue cast by the dawn light. The elders led whilst the youngest, barely teenagers (you can begin your training as a monk at 7 years of age), were at the end of line. Silently on bare feet they past kneeling women and received food into platters carried in their hands. The procession moved quickly before turning a corner to disappear from sight. Further down the road we saw other lines of monks and the women remained kneeling with their offerings as these monks would also pass them in time.

    With the sun fully risen we were on a bus out of the city and winding up through the mountain roads to Vang Vieng. Switching back and forth with the road, we climbed higher and higher to break through a barrier of low cloud. Out of the window, the mountain peaks became visible and appeared as islands of green in a sea of grey and white cloud.

    It was a 7 hour drive through the mountain road and Keo explained that before the road was built in 1996, the journey could take over a week. Still now we could see where small landslides, caused by the heavy rains, partially blocked the road. Fortunately we were able to get through without delay.

    We stopped at a roadside village, it's homes made of bare breeze block or weathered timber. Toddlers and dogs played on the floor of its small shop, where bottles of 'Bear's Claw' whiskey could be purchased. The clear barrels showing the fermenting paws of Asian bears, partially hidden behind corrugated iron sheeting due to this local tradition clashing with national laws that protected the animals.

    Later we stopped at toilets claiming to have the 'best view in the world' due to rear wall being absent, allowing for a panoramic view of the mountains whilst on the squat toilet. Thoughtful touch.

    Vang Vieng's notoriety comes from its river tubing, whereby you can 'booze cruise' your way down the river, stopping at the riverside bars. Until 2012, there were dozens of bars, which had rope swings and slides that patrons could use to throw themselves back into the river. Whilst this sounds fun, it unsurprisingly led to a steady rise in alcohol-related deaths (a total of 22 in 2012 alone). As a result the government took action, removing many of the bars and all the swings and slides. However from reading reviews it still attracts a culture of lapsed safety, pressure selling of alcohol and people generally acting like arseholes. So we dodged that bullet, keeping the awesome memory of tubing in New Zealand in our minds.
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