When it comes to snapping those perfect Instagram photos, Vang Vieng in Northern Laos is an absolute treasure-trove. The list below is what I consider to be the top 5 Vang Vieng photo spots.
1. Nam Xay Viewpoint
The MOST Instagrammable photo in Vang Vieng!
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. There is also a 10,000 kip ($1.10 USD) entrance fee for the hike, but the epic photo and view from the top is so worth it.
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.
2. Rice Fields at Vieng Tara Villa
The 2nd best place for Instagrammable Vang Vieng photos
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.
3. Bridge at Pha Tang
The 3rd most Instagrammable location in Vang Vieng
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.
4. Sunset along the river
The 4th most Instagrammable location in Vang Vieng
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!
5. Nam Song Pedestrian Bridge
The 5th most Instagrammable Vang Vieng photo location
The last location to make our Top 5 Vang Vieng Photos list is the orange pedestrian bridge on the south side of town. This is not to be confused with the wooden toll bridge! It can easily be visited by foot from anywhere in the Vang Vieng centre in 15 minutes or less.
The bridge itself offers some great leading lines with beautiful mountains filling up our background and a nice pop of orange all around.
If you have a zoom lens, I recommend having the photographer stand further from the subject and zooming in to have the mountains fill more of the frame. The closer you are to the subject, the more they will block out those stunning mountains that define Vang Vieng.
Not-so-Honourable Mention: Blue Lagoon
Wondering why the most famous photo location in all of Vang Vieng didn’t make the list? Mostly because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. The famously blue water is often actually a murky brown after rains, and almost always stuffed to the brim with visitors local and foreign alike.
The photo below of Blue Lagoon was taken in 2013 (before I knew anything about photography!) on my first visit to Laos. On this most recent trip in 2019, we didn’t even bother going after scouting with the drone to discover a brown pool crawling with people. Vang Vieng is simply too beautiful to spend the time and money on Blue Lagoon from a photography standpoint, in my opinion. By all means, though, go for the experience if you need an escape from the heat. Plus, if you’re the first one there at the right time of year, you might get some great photos with nobody else in them!