This day trip was organised through our guesthouse Jammee Guesthouse and we were lucky to do it with another travelling family. We paid $15 USD per person including lunch for this trip which we thought was very reasonable .
We were picked up at our guesthouse at 9:00am and taken by songathew to the Elephant Temple Cave that we would be visiting first. It was a 20 minute ride out-of-town and fairly comfortable, although the roads are pretty bumpy. After we arrived we hiked up past a local village to find the Elephant Temple.
Our guides were very knowledgable and taught us a bit about Buddhism and offerings in the temples. The kids were intrigued by the big elephant foot print and enjoyed being in the cave.
After the temple we hiked up towards the mountains to find the cave that we would be tubing in. The walking wasn’t far at all and our 3-year-old had no problems walking it. When we arrived at the caves we were surprised that there were several other tour groups here as well. Our tour guide asked us if we wanted to go into the caves now or to wait after lunch. We looked at the cave and it looked quiet so we went with the tubing first.
Once we got on the tubes there is a long rope that leads you into the dark cave. It is reserved for people coming into the cave and as there is only one rope, those coming back out have to wade their way through the water on their own.
As we were entering the cave holding onto the rope, a big group of tourists were coming out of the cave and were being pushed off the rope by the guides. There were screams of disapproval and people trying not to let go of the rope. Some of the kids got scared with all the commotion and decided they wanted to head back out into the sunlight so one of our party took them out.
Once we passed the tour group however our journey into the dark cave was very quiet and eerie. Using our flashlights we could see the formations of different rocks and the shape of the cave. We stopped about halfway to leave the tube and travel deeper into the cave. We saw different rock formations and learnt a bit about the cave system from our guide before venturing back out toward the entrance of the tunnel.
Those of us pushed through the cave in our tubes ended up having a great time and if you have the chance to do something similar, make sure there are not hoards of people inside the cave before you enter.
Lunch at the caves was amazing. We each got two big chicken and vege kebab’s, fried rice, a large baguette, bottle of water and fruit. Luckily for J there were lots of left overs and we even took some with us for later in our zip lock bags.
Next we were back into the songathew to be taken to our launch point for kayaking down the river. There were 3 guides in our party so we were happy to have extra adults for all our children. I was most looking forward to kayaking down the Nam Song river and I was not disappointed. We were dropped about 10 km from our finish point and had about 3-4 hours until it got dark so we decided to go slowly and enjoy the surrounds.
We stopped part way at a riverside restaurant that had an excellent playground and a zipline in the water. The kids enjoyed our break here and had fun zip lining into the river. We loved the restaurant so much we trekked back out here a couple of days later to enjoy it for the day.
Kayaking down the river was surreal. There were people farming the land on the banks of the river, children were washing and having fun and locals watching on. The landscape was nothing short of spectacular and the majestic karst mountains towered over us as we made our way down the river.
We arrived to our landing point just before sunset. (Around 4:45pm) This day trip was one of the highlights of our time in Laos. Vang Vieng is a family friendly destination and we enjoyed our time here immensely.