Northern Laos is well known for its beautiful mountainous landscape. You can see them everywhere. They surround you at all times and it are so picturesque.
The landscape is especially stunning on the Slow Boat Cruise Down-river from Huay Xui to Luang Prabang. You can read all about the cruise and my journey here. It was so incredible.
When we arrived to Laos (Huay Xui) it was clear we had to fit in some hikes. After witnessing how beautiful mountains they are from the cruise, you can’t resist. One of our stops on our Laos itinerary was Vang Vieng and how glad we were that we planned this stop. Vang Vieng is well known for its hikes so here is where we began our Laotian mountain hiking adventures.
The most well known are Nam Xay and Pha Ngeun, both located around 15 minutes drive away from the town centre. You can walk and it take you two hours, we saw quite a few doing it. But if I were you, I’d drive and save your energy for the hikes. You’ll need it.
Both hikes are for the adventurous and those who don’t mind getting super sweaty and probably dirty. I even picked up a few bumps and bruises along the way, but it was all worth it.
Let me start with the best sunset hike in Vang Vieng. Nam Xay.
This viewpoint is famous for its motorbikes at the top. I have no clue how someone managed to get them up there but how cool. They make for amazing photos.
We chose this for sunset as we were told the sunset is directly in front of the viewpoint as how right they were. You’ll watch the sun turn orange and slowly slip behind the mountains. It is so stunning.
To get up in time for sunset I suggest starting your hike at 4:30pm. It is cooling down at this one with the sun going down and get you up in time for sunset. If you need stops along the way, head up a little before this time.
The hike took us 30 minutes and we arrived up at 5pm, giving us half an hour to enjoy the views, find a spot to sit and watch the sunset.
If you like to see a Laotian sunrise from the top of a mountain, then Pha Ngeun Viewpoint 2 is the answer.
Not to get confused with Pha Ngeun Viewpoint 1 (add map to show where the two are), Viewpoint 2 is a much bigger hike for a reason. You will see the entrance for Viewpoint 2 just before the bend in the road which is just before the TCK buggy garage. It has a big sign for the viewpoint and you head down the dirt road for 1-2 minutes before seeing the parking spaces. Tickets are 10,000 kip to enter.
The views from up here are unbeatable and although it’s a longer and sweatier hike then Viewpoint 1, it is definitely worth it. The WOOOO I let out at the top when we reached the peak felt sensational. Try it to and you’ll know what I mean.
We started hiking up at around 7.30-8am. Yes, the sun has already started to rise by then but it takes a while to get over the mountains and by the time you get to the top, the sun will be at its best.
The hike up took 1 hour exactly. We underestimated this by a long shot. We assumed it would take around 30 minutes to the top (40 max) but yes, it took a solid hour. The only stopping we did was for a quick sip of water or a 10-20 second break. It sure does make you sweaty but I advise to just keep going if you can. Not only will this mean you will probably be first to the top, it is an incredible workout.
It is advised to stop halfway up for the first viewpoint. To here it takes 30-40 minutes. You’ll see this sign (above) and it tells you the top is 400m away. It’s definitely more than that. From this point it takes another 30-40 minutes, depending how fast you hike/how many times you stop.
I do definitely recommend this for sunrise as the sun won’t be too hot and the sun rises right in front of the viewpoint.
The best advice is just keep going and don’t expect the hike to be shorter. It does take its time, it is sweaty but so worth it.
We did these hikes back to back, Nam Xay one night for sunset and then next morning we headed to Pha Ngeun Viewpoint 2 for sunrise. If you have a short time in Vang Vieng, I recommend doing the same.
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