Sleeping and Dining in Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng Amari Hotel

One of the best view rooms we’ve ever had. Vang Vieng is all about the views of these karst limestone mountain. What better way to view them than from bed!

The spacious room has all the amenities you would expect from a hotel at this price point and a good Wi-Fi connection, but services are lacking for a large hotel.

We were hoping to arrange onward travel to Vientiane through the hotel, which we ultimately did, but they only had a shared minivan option. In addition, they had great difficulty understanding our request for them to make us a dinner reservation at a neighboring hotel restaurant.

The hotel seems to cater to large Korean tour groups that must have their travel and activities already booked rather than individual travelers that may be looking for some advice concerning onward travel, activities and restaurant reservations.

The breakfast buffet was a disappointment. Despite a large selection of both Asian and Western items food quality and flavor is OK at best. They also don’t keep up with demand and offerings are slim if you arrive much past 7:15. Most of the tour groups go through sometime before 7.

Service is very friendly and eager to please but poor English skills often inhibit simple transactions.

I should also mention that if you book the prepaid non-refundable option through their website, they do not really do this as a prepaid but instead charge you when you check in. To add to the confusion, it mistakenly states on the reservation receipt that payment is taken at the time of booking.

Dinner at Amari

 At 7:30PM we arrived to an empty cavernous dining room. The menu included a selection of Asian and western fare. We went Asian.

Despite the lack of guests, the food took nearly 30 minutes to arrive but was quite good. Only Don’s chicken with chilies and cashews was not fresh hot. Great combination of good quality ingredients and tasty flavors. Service is friendly and attentive.

Dinner at Restaurant du Crabe d’Or

Stepping onto the property of the Riverside Boutique Resort we entered a world of understated elegance. Low white colonial exteriors, dark wood balconies and manicured lawns surround a pool area with fabulous views of the karst cliffs. The terrace dining room, elegant yet casual with wicker furnishings, has views through the palm trees of the same famed cliffs. The waiter’s English was far better than we’ve experienced anywhere else in the country.

We started with the fresh spring rolls. They were well prepared but spring rolls are never that exciting.

Don ordered the fish laap – a Lao dish. Well executed but on the tame side compared to the buffalo laap we had at Tamarind in Luang Prabang.

My lamb chops, however, were beautifully done, on the rare side of medium rare, and super tender. My only complaint was they cut them two at time with the outer bone still attached instead of the individual lollypops we often see in the States.  I managed to gnaw through them nonetheless.

Yes, this is bubble world, but if you are missing a taste of home this may be the place to try.

Dinner at Happy Mango Thai Restaurant

At 6:30 the small dining room was nearly full with 20-somethings, all Westerners. Don and I were by far the oldest customers in the place and we never did see a customer much over the age of 30. Millennials know something about where to eat.  This number 1 ranked TripAdvisor eatery served the best meal we had in Laos.

Despite the small size, the open dining room has a casual rustic charm, painted in bright colors with shabby chic tendencies.

The food is exceptional. The extensive menu has a great variety of Thai dishes with plenty of vegetarian options. We started with the crispy duck in pancake. Loaded with duck morsels, the appetizer is a filling way to start.

For mains I tried the duck in red curry, one of my favs. This version had lots of tender duck. The broth was light on the coconut milk and not too rich, spicy but not make-you-sweat spicy.

Don’s whole fish was exquisite. Perfectly steamed with chili and lime it was the culinary highlight of the trip.

Considering the name of the restaurant and the number of mango options we thought this was a good place to try mango with sticky rice. They have a small portion, perfect for a taste after a big meal. Great flavors with coconut sticky rice and fresh ripe mango.

October 31 – November 3, 2018

For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.