Vang Vieng is a small town in Northern Laos, located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Sitting along the Nam Song River with dramatic limestone mountain scenery as its backdrop, Vang Vieng is absolutely breathtaking. The best location for that perfect Vang Vieng photo is undoubtedly the Nam Xay Viewpoint just across the wooden bridge from the “city centre.” In fact, this may be the most Instagrammable location in all of Laos (apologies to Kuang Si Falls).
The entrance to the Nam Xay Viewpoint is about 15 minutes out of Vang Vieng by car or scooter, so you will need to arrange transport. Once you’ve arrived, be prepared for a VERY strenuous walk up a VERY steep hill; without rest, it will take about 15-20 minutes, but most of us will likely need 20-25 to catch our breath. Make sure you bring water! For the best Instagram photo, I recommend a golden hour/sunset visit. This was a tough call, but I think the second-best Instagram photo location in Vang Vieng goes to the rice field boardwalk at the Vieng Tara Villas.
Technically, you have to be a guest to take this photo, as indicated by a sign at the entrance. When I visited, we had a coffee at the restaurant and that seemed sufficient for them. The best Vang Vieng photos will come when the rice fields are green and lush, or at least golden, but there are times where they plough the fields and you’re left with brown dirt.
We took this photo on May 26th, 2019; they were literally ploughing the fields while we tried to shoot! If you’re there in low season, just be prepared for this possibility. Also, be prepared for the possibility of being denied entry if they are busy at the time or get fed up with visitors.
Pha Tang is located about 30 minutes north of the city and is one of the first villages in the Vang Vieng district. On a blue-sky day, the bridge at Pha Tang makes the number 3 spot for Vang Vieng photos, as the afternoon light on the mountainscapes is simply breathtaking. On a cloudy day, the colours can be quite muted and a bit less dramatic, but the scene is still worth the stop!
If you have someone to help you with the photo, my favourite composition was shooting from the bridge with the subject down by the water below. I also liked the composition with both the cameraman and model down by the river. As a bonus, there is a temple, Wat Pho Karm Chai Mong Kol, right next to the bridge that is very beautiful and well worth the visit. In addition to some gorgeous artwork, there is a 3-story tower that was open to climb when I visited that provided an unbeatable aerial view of the valley below.
The number four spot for Vang Vieng photos is sunset along the river. If you are luckier than we were, hot air balloons often drift by and really add some drama to the photos. Most nights, however, you will have a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the mountains as net fishermen, tubers, and boaters travel back and forth across the scene. There are a number of bars along the river, many of which offer a happy hour during sunset.
It doesn’t hurt that you can have a cheeky beer or cocktail between photos!