Today's guest bloggers are the Bohemian Family, consisting of five adventurers - mum, dad and three boys. They started a quest to escape the rat race five years ago in Costa Rica and haven't looked back since. By sharing their experiences they hope others will be encouraged to attempt a life of permanent adventure.
Vang Vieng, Laos
Luang Prabang was more recommended than Van Vieng, but it's a much longer drive on a very windy road. We had already come so far from Thailand and really weren't feeling up for it more trekking. Vang Vieng was only 3 hours by van from Vientiane, the Laos capital, so we decided we would try it anyway.
Well, we could not have been more surprised! It is a small town; so easy to walk and it is full of great little restaurants, relaxed bars, hotels of varying cost, and kind welcoming locals. Sure there are plenty of young people spending their day drinking, but none of them bothered us at all. They were actually quite amusing thing to watch. There are also the TV bars that so many people had warned u about but you know what, we loved those. Comfortable, yummy food, and fun shows to watch. I wouldn't want to live there but for a few weeks it was engaging and fun. What is so wrong with people relaxing anyway?
What's so family friendly about Vang Vieng?
It is hard to even know where to begin as there is SO much to do with kids of all ages. First, the river tubing that many portrayed as dangerous and full of filthy behavior was awesome. We went around 10am and even stopped at a few bars, to check out the water slides and ziplines. I went with my 12 and 8-year-old sons and we all had a great time.
Fun and perfectly safe
In fact, there were only a few other people out there so early in the morning so it seemed like we had the river to ourselves. You can also just spend time down by the beautiful river itself splashing around and skipping rocks. There is such a beautiful backdrop of stunning limestone cliffs, locals fishing and washing clothes, and water buffalo swimming that the bars were merely one aspect to enjoy. The views, cool river, sun on our faces, and water slides sounds like family fun to me.
Another thing we love to do is rent motor scooters and go exploring. We only do this in small towns where traffic is limited, so Vang Vieng was a perfect spot. Throw in the fact that there are amazing lagoons, caves, and unique villages that it was the perfect recipe for adventure and happiness the entire 3 weeks. That's right we liked it so much we stayed almost 3 weeks, and we never ran out of things to do.
Pai is a small mountain town in northern Thailand near the Burma border. Pai also has gotten a bad rap similarly as a party town, but more for being a hippie hangout overrun with tourists. Since it is a short three-hour van ride from Chiang Mai through some pretty windy roads (okay the most windy roads ever) I was not sure we would venture out that way. We generally do not target touristy areas.
But, after a good friend went and assured us it was a great spot, and since we experienced enough time in Chiang Mai, we decided to brave the drive and check it out. Admittedly, we do enjoy smaller towns even if they are overrun with tourists. The bigger cities we have visited are really wonderful but we feel more at home in a small town with space for the kids to run around. It has a calming effect on our whole family.
It was a bit larger than Vang Vieng so it took me a few days to really warm up to it, but once I did I just fell in love.
So what is there to do in Pai with a family?
Again we rented scooters at a mere $3 per day. A great deal and the cheapest we have found in our travels so far. With those we wee able to explore the entire area. From elephant camps to hot springs, memorial bridges to waterfalls, there is no shortage of things to keep everyone busy. It is a beautiful town with amazing temples, rice fields, and mountains to enjoy. A must see is Tham Lod cave, about a one-hour scooter ride from town and well worth it. The ride is beautiful and the cave is nothing short of amazing! There are plenty of family retaurants as well as a great nightly walking market.
There is so much beauty and fun to be had in both areas that I consider them to be must sees in this area of the world. Do yourself a favor and check them out while in Thailand and Laos. They are both great spots for your next family adventure!