Vang Vieng is a small town in Laos of 25,000 people, which sits alongside the Nam Song River. Limestone cliffs create a beautiful backdrop for the adventure-tourism-oriented town. Despite the volume and scale of the surrounding cliffs I didn’t come across too many easily accessible, signed, or promoted hikes. However, I was referred by a friend at my hostel to visit Pha Ngern viewpoint also known as the Pha Ngeun Viewpoint. While there are likely several other hikes in the region, this trek seems to be the most accessible, closest in proximity to the town and of course, had amazing views.
HIKING IN VANG VIENG
HOW TO GET TO PHA NGERN VIEWPOINT
The Pha Ngern viewpoint is across the river from Vang Vieng Town, a 4.5-kilometer journey by moped, dune buggy, bicycle, or in my case a leisurely walk. It took me about 40 minutes in the searing heat, but the landscape made the walk seem far shorter. Rice fields surround you in all directions as you walk along a road shared only by a few tourist buses and herds of cows.
About halfway along the road towards the Blue Lagoon is a turnoff indicated by a small sign next to a small store selling snacks and drinks. Follow this dirt road for about 10 minutes and you will reach a small hut with a few locals who will sell you a 10,000 kip entrance ticket.
From here the hike is quite steep and it would be best to wear decent shoes as there are a few slippery spots. However, for the most part, this is a very basic, short hike taking only 30 minutes from foot to summit of the mountain.
Railings, footholds, and ladders help guide you to the top. Despite the simplicity of the hike, I was still searching for breath at the top due to the incline.
HIKING TO PHA NGERN VIEWPOINT
At the summit, sweeping views of the rice-paddy laden valley will take your breath away if the incline didn’t. From the backside, you can spot your hotel in Vang Vieng Town and from the front, you can even spot the location of the Blue Lagoon.
I arrived an hour and a half before sunset to ensure I didn’t miss it. Luckily a local woman was selling snacks and refreshments to make our wait enjoyable. Although the views were more than enough to keep me entertained until the sun fell below the ridges of the mountains on the horizon.
What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?
There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my hiking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
I decided not to take photos but instead to create a timelapse of the sunset. I set my tripod at the foot of the lookout, nestles on the sharp limestone cliffs. The most amazing part of the view was watching farmers strategically burning off segments of their farms. It also added another element to the time-lapse.
Hiking to this viewpoint was the pinnacle of my time in Vang Vieng and gave me a great understanding of the layout of the town and a broad perspective of the vast landscape surrounding the town. It is a great way to end your day if you have been out exploring the Blue Lagoon or the caves.
MORE LAOS TRAVEL BLOGS
LUANG PRABANG GUIDE: 9 BEST THINGS TO DO IN LUANG PRABANG
KUANG SI FALLS: KUANG SI WATERFALL
THE WHISKY VILLAGE: THE WHISKY VILLAGE – LUANG PRABANG
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