Tham Sang (Tham Xang )
Admission 10,000 Kip
The Tham Sang meaning is “Elephant Cave”, is a small cavern containing a few Buddha images and a Buddh ‘footprint’, plus the (vaguely) elephant shaped stalactite that gives the cave its name. It’s best visited in the morning when light enters the cave.
From the Tham Sang a signed path takes you 1km northwest through rice fields to the entrances of Tham Loup and Tham Hoi (admission for both 0.50). The entrance to Tham Hoi is guarded by a large Buddha figure; reportedly the cave continues about 3km into the limestone and an underground lake. Tham Loup is a large and delightfully untouched cavern with some impressive stalactites.
About 300-400m south of Tham Hoi, along a well-used path, is the highlight of this trip, Tham Nam (admission 10,000Kip). The cave is about 500m long and a tributary of the Nam Song flows out of its low entrance. In the dry season you can wade into the cave, but when the water is higher you need to take a tube from the friendly woman near the entrance; the tube and headlamp are Included in the entrance fee. Dragging yourself through the tunnel on the fixed rope is fun.
From Tham Nam an easy 1 km walk brings you back to Ban Tham Sang. This loop is usually included in the kayaking/ trekking/tubing combo trip run by most Vang Vieng tour operators.
Tham Phu Kham (Phu Kham Cave)
Blue Laggon :: Admisssion: 10,000 Kip
The Tham Phu Kham is considered sacred by Lao and is popular largely due to the lagoon in the cave. The beautiful green-blue waters are perfect for a dip after the stiff climb. The main cave chamber contains a Thai bronze reclining Buddha, and from here deeper galleries branch off into the mountain.
To get there: cross the bridge and walk or pedal 6-7 km. along a scenic but unpaved road to the village of Bar Na Thong. From Ban Na Thong follow the signs towards the cliff and a stiff 200m climb through scrub forest.
Tham Jang (Tham Chang)
Admission 10,000 Kip, Open 8.00AM-5.30PM
The most famous of the caves, was used as a bunker in defence against marauding Jiin Haw (Yunnanese Chinese) in the early 19th century (jang means “steadfast”). Stair lead up to the main cavern entrance.
The main cave chamber isn’t the most impressive, but it does afford magnificent views over the river valley through an opening in the limestone wall. A cool spring at the foot of the cave feeds into the river and you can swim up here about 80m into the cave. Inside are electric lights, which the caretakers turn on once you’ve paid the admission fee. Yon can swim outside the cave for free; not a bad option. To get there, walk south to the Vang Vieng Resort where you must pay a 5,000 Kip fee to cross the grounds, plus 5,000 Kip for a bike. The cave is signed on the far side of the bridge.
Rafting Vang Vieng
The brutal Grade 4 – 5 rapids along the magical Nam Ngum are easjly the most thrilling river ride around Vang Vieng. Two-day expeditions begin with a drive into the previously off-limits area formerly known as the Saisombun Special Zone to put in on the Nam Ngum. A day’s paddling takes you to Ang Nam Ngum, where you sleep on an island in the lake and finish with a ride to Vientiane.
Choosing a company with experienced guides is the best way to maximize safety. Guides, of course, come and go, ask around before you sign up. Rafting is best and safest between October – March.
Kayaking is almost as popular as tubing and trips typically include visits to caves and villages riverside and resort a few rapids, the danger of which depends on the speed of die water. There are loads of operators and prices are about US$8-12 per person for a half/whole day.
Kayaking trips to Vientiane involve a lot of paddling and part of the trip is by road. Not all guides are as well trained as they could be. Before using a cheap operator, check the equipment and the guides’ credentials, and ask other travelers.
Tags: Kayaking Vang Vieng