The varied terrain surrounding Vang Vieng can turn treacherous in a hurry, particularly during the rainy season. Exercise caution while wandering through caves and scrambling about on the steep slopes of the karst formations, as serious injuries incurred by foolhardy travellers while tramping about in the area are common. Slippery trails demand that proper shoes be worn – Teva-style sandals with good traction are the best for conquering Vang Vieng’s alternately rocky and muddy trails. Bermuda-type shorts are also a good sartorial choice as you may end up knee-deep in water at some point if you intend to enjoy the countryside to the fullest. A re-sealable plastic bag for valuables such as money and your passport is an excellent idea. Do not leave your valuables with local kids or teenagers, who may offer to “look after them for you” while you explore a cave, and make sure you get back to town before dark – robberies have been reported.
Finally, while it may be tempting to wander around in your swimming gear (and it’s very common to see travellers walking around town half-naked), always remember that in Laos gratuitous displays of flesh are considered a form of rudeness and disrespect.