Since the government put a stop to this back in 2012, the town has had to reinvent itself to encourage tourists to keep flocking. Today Vang Vieng is a shadow of it’s former self, much to the dismay of the locals, but there is so much beauty to explore that visiting here should still be on your list.
For me personally, I was drawn to the area for one simple reason, the limestone caves. There is something spellbinding about exploring pitch black caves where few have travelled before.
Although you can explore these caves independently, it is advisable to take one of the guides, which most places for accommodation have tours available cheaply.
For some of the caves, children from villages close by will take you for a jaunt into the darkness. Head lamps are available to rent from almost everywhere if you have not brought one yourself, but bear in mind that the rental ones are cheap quality and the illumination is not the best.
Mostly opportunistic thieves, so ensuring your belongings are secure at all times will see you travelling safely in the region.
The Elephant Cave, Tham Xang is located a short jaunt out of Vang Vieng. Travelling there by scooter, bicycle or tour bus is the best bet. The cave is located near the popular area used for zip lines and cave tubing.
The caves elephant formation was once cursed and the rock formation originally held the shape of a monsters face. After the surrounding villages suffered ill fortune, the face was destroyed to resemble what it now shows, an elephant.
The villages luck and fortune improved and the cave soon became a shine to Buddha. Given the cave is a shrine, showing respect is needed, so removing your shoes when entering is a must, as is dressing respectfully.
If your travelling to Laos for a visa run, why not spend a few extra days in the country exploring all the beauty that it has to offer.