At least five people have died around here in recent years from river accidents, drug misadventures and while caving Theft can also be a problem, with fellow travelers often the culprits. Take the usual precautions and don’t leave valuables outside caves.
Whether tubing or kayaking down the Nam Song or rafting in more turbulent waters, river can be dangerous. Wearing a life jacket is a must when rafting any rapids and is advisable even on the normally tranquil Nam Song, especially during the wet season when waters flow up to four times faster than normal. Tubing/rafting/kayaking companies should provide one.
ON THE RIVER
When tubing, it’s worth asking how long; the trip should take (durations vary depending on the time of year) and allowing plenty of time to get back to Vang Vieng before dark – it’s black by about 6pm in winter If you stop for the rope swing be a Hide careful, as one woman drowned here wim something went wrong. Finally, don’t forget that while tubing the Nam Song might be more fun when you’re off/our head, it’s also more dangerous
With so many drugs washing around Vang Vieng it’s no surprise that the local police are particularly adept at sniffing out spliffs, especially late at night, and if you’re caught with a stash of marijuana (or anything else) it can be expensive. The normal practice is for police to take your passport and fine you US$500. If you don’t have much cash on you, you might be able to negotiate the fine downwards. But ultimately yon have broken the law and will have to pay something. Don’t expect a receipt and don’1 bother calling your embassy.
If you must use opium, don’t mix it with too much else and certainly not with lime juice. We haven’t tested this theory (our dedication to research doesn’t go quite that far), but several Vang Vieng residents told us that at least one traveler has died after using opium and having an innocuous- rounding glass of lime juice! Sounds un- likely, but apparently/allegedly this mix has long been used by hill-tribe women who suicide as an ultimate act of protest against a bad husband.
The caves around Vang Vieng are often spectacular, but being caves they come with certain hazards – they’re dark, slippery and disorienting. It’s easy to get lost, especially if you’re torch batteries die. It’s well worth hiring a guide at the cave.