We had been waiting for this week to arrive for so long and we were so happy we were finally on our way!
Green Climbers Home in Laos is basically a Climber’s heaven. It’s situated in Thakhek Laos, has over 160 different climbing routes and accommodation on site. It caters to all types of climbers.
To get here, we got a bus to Vientiane from Hanoi, Vietnam (which took a whopping 24 hours might I add!) and stayed there for 3 days before catching another bus to Thakhek. The bus to Thakhek cost $22 each, took 6 hours and was the jazziest bus we’d ever been on! It looked like something out of the transformers, it was electric blue and had graffiti painting all over the exterior. Inside there were mirrors and speakers built in to every panel. We were so surprised that smoke didn’t roll out and snoop dog didn’t appear with a joint when the doors opened to let us on!
When we got to the station, we jumped on a tuk tuk (150 Baht) which took us to GCH. We arrived there at around 7pm and loved it instantly! The main chill area/restaurant is the first thing we saw and is located right in the middle of the field. It’s open air so we could see loads of people already sitting down, drinking, eating and chatting with each other. It was a good sign!
We grabbed some dinner before we were shown to our accommodation and got chatting to some people. We met a couple who had never climbed before and were just about to start a beginners course (which anyone can do, so if you've never climbed before, this is the perfect place to learn!) and then met a guy who was actually travelling the world, specifically in search of finding new places to climb! Whether you are a complete beginner or an absolute pro, there’s no judgement and it’s so evident that everyone is there just doing something that they enjoy. It was a pretty cool experience to be around a group of people who had one same interest in common from the get go!
The food we ate during our week here was amazing, the menu has tonnes on it and is really well priced. There’s not really any other restaurants nearby, but even if there was, we still would have eaten at GCH instead. We’re both little health freaks so we relished the chance to have GCH’s humongous chicken salad for lunch and dinner everyday!
We checked in and were shown to our bungalow. There are 3 types of accommodation at GCH - camping, dorms or bungalow. We chose to go for the bungalow option at $20 per night for our first 3 nights and then swap to camping for $10 per night for the last 3 as we love camping anyway! However, we actually ended up staying in the bungalow the whole time as it was so cushty and when the day came to move, we couldn’t actually be bothered to move all our stuff into the tent! Lazy gits, we know!
Now... onto the actual climbing!
GCH is located slap bang in the middle of 160+ climbs. The routes and scenery were amazing and we couldn’t fault them during the week! They have a massive range from 4’s - 8’s, so there is something for everyone! The furthest climb is around a 25 minute walk through the jungle/forest at the back of the camp, whilst the closest climb is around a 30 second walk from behind the restaurant.
We had a bit of a pickle on our first day however as we couldn’t actually find the climb we wanted. We were luckily given a route book for free as someone had left there’s behind the day that we got there (usually costs £10) We actually borrowed it on the agreement that we leave it behind for someone afterwards as well, which we fully did intend to do.... if we didn’t accident leave the book at a climb, which resulted in it getting soaked when it rained that day, oops! (It’s the thought that counts)
But anyway, following the map in this book we followed the route for our first set of climbs. We must have walked up and down that forest for about half an hour completely stuck because we couldn’t find the area, we eventually found it later on in the week but my gosh, it was a bit of an anti-climax for us when we were desperate to get climbing on the first day!
We found another area eventually and got climbing, the routes were so, so good and we managed to tough old 50m multi-pitch climb later on in the week! The routes are actually incredibly marked and sign-posted, I think we just didn’t know what we were looking for and were being a pair of dopes on the first day!
Even getting there was hilarious, we had to cross over a rope bridge which was swinging all over the place nearly falling in a couple of times. There's so much stuff to do here outside of climbing, from trekking to caving to visiting local temples.
(Top Tip - if your exhausted from climbing, go take a dip in Green Climbers very own cave pool!)
One thing we will warn you about is here the mosquitos! If you haven’t took a bath in mosquito repellent, then be prepared to be eaten alive as they are on a rampage in Thakhek! We’ve assumed that there must be a circulation of steroids going around the mosquitos here because we had bites the size of 2 pence pieces! They sell mosquito repellent behind the bar, incase you are numpties like us and didn’t have any with you when you arrived.
Our only little niggle that we had whilst staying here was the tiny, black bees that don’t leave you alone whilst out climbing. Obviously this can’t be helped by GCH, but my gosh was it a painnn in the ass. There are these tiny black bees that love to buzz around and eventually fly into any crevice that you have on your face, I.e - your eyes, noes, ears and mouth! Whilst we were trying to climb and belay, it got really tricky to concentrate with 10-20 of them flying around your eyes and ears. One actually flew into Jac’s ear when he was half was up a wall! (I wanted to keep it as a pet but he said no and shook it out)
(Top Tip - Wear sunglasses and they won't be able to dive bomb into your eyes)
Our week was finished off with one of the most crazy thunderstorms we had ever seen/heard! We were due to leave in the morning and had had amazing weather throughout the rest of the week. We were woken up in the middle of the night by the storm, we went out onto the balcony and watched the rain lashing down onto the field, the lightning strikes lighting up the entire sky and listened to the thunder which literally sounded like the sky was falling down! Some of the people in the tents ended up heading to the restaurant and sleeping there for the night as there tents were flooded (We were pretty chuffed with our decision not to move into one at this point haha!)
Overall, our stay at GCH was awesome! One of the best things for us is our sim cards didn't work, so when we weren't climbing we'd just chill in a hammock and read our books! For us, it was so nice to get away from the distractions of the outside world and spend a week doing something we're both passionate about.
We loved the climbs, the accommodation, the people, the salads and at the end of the week... getting away from those bloody bees haha! If we are fortunate to go back to Laos in the future, we will definitely be making another stay here.
All Gone Rogue x
We had read a lot about the Vang Vieng Challenge before arriving in Vang Vieng and were so excited to take on the challenge ourselves. The challenge consists of a 6 hour trek through the jungle, a via ferreta across the mountain and waterfalls, a huge 70m abseil down a waterfall, sleeping at the top of a mountain under the stars and then zip-lining/abseiling all the way back down in the morning... what more could we ask for! It was going to be one hell of a trip!
We booked the tour directly at the Vang Vieng Green Discovery office. The 2 day one night tour ended up costing £68 each (after further reductions, explained below) which included breakfast x1 lunch x2 and dinner x1. We thought this was a really good price considering what we were about to do! The other option we had in mind was the Gibbon Experience which was in Dong Xoi. This is similar to the Vang Vieng Challenge as you hike up the mountain and zip-line back down. However, the difference is in the accommodation as with the gibbon experience you stay in treehouses, which are suspended high in the tree canopy and have the potential to see gibbons. We would have loved the experience to see gibbons, however it was £200+ and we just couldn’t justify that with our budget. Looking back now at how good the Vang Vieng Challenge was - we are so, so happy we didn’t spend the money and went with the cheaper experience because monkeys or no monkeys, it was just as good!
We were picked up from our hostel at 7:30 the morning of the challenge and were taken to the Green Discovery office, they kindly let us keep our backpacks here whilst we were away. We had initially booked onto a tour which hadn’t had any other people booked on it yet, it was going to be me, Jac and the tour guide. It was a bit more expensive this way, but the tour guide said that if anyone else joined on the course, we would get be refunded the price difference that comes with being in a bigger group. Well, luckily this was the case woohoo! We picked up 2 more people (and got a little refund) who were a lovely couple from Singapore. We loved meeting them and are planning to get together again when we go to Singapore later on this year (perks of travelling - having a bed to stay in, in every country!)
Our first stop on the journey was the market to pick up supplies for the next two days ahead. The tour guide darted off so quick, obviously knowing the market like the back of his hand and none of us could keep up with him, so we had a quick wonder and then all stood by the truck and got to know each other instead! We’ve all seen our fair share of dead fish and cow heads in the markets now, so I don’t think we missed out on too much...but if you've never seen a cows head - here's your chance! Thank Jac for this one!
After the market, we headed off to the base camp, which was a little area near the river with restaurants and toilet facilities. We started our trek from here after getting geared up with harnesses and gloves. The harness is pretty heavy, so you have two options here - wear it or carry it. Jac chose to carry his whilst I chose to wear mine, we both found our own way comfortable so it’s whatever you prefer.
The first part of the trek was across a bridge and up a very, very, very steep hill! I have to admit, when my calves were burning walking up this hill and we had only just got started, I thought ‘oh flip, I’ve majorly underestimated how much of a challenge this is going to be!’ However, we soon found out that it’s was only really one majorly steep hill at the beginning and then the rest was a steady incline through the jungle, so there was nothing to worry about at all!
The trek through the jungle was awesome, it had rained the night before so it made everything super slippy. We stopped at around 1pm, just before our first zip-line to have lunch, which was a massive chicken baguette.
The next part of the trek was definitely the best bit! We zip-lined our way through to a couple of different parts of the mountain and then climbed the Via Ferrata up the majority of the remaining trek to the top of the mountain. The Via Ferrata was amazing and was mainly placed next to the waterfall that flows down the side of the mountain (which we would be abseiling down when we got to the top). The best thing about this tour was that the tour guides let me and Jac (a pair of little adrenaline junkies) go up the Via Ferrata at some points without attaching on to anything. They were so laid back with us which was great as it made it a lot more fun (or a lot more dangerous) for us pair of lunatics!
We reached the wooden treehouse at the top of the mountain at about 4pm. The treehouse was amazing, it was open air and had one of the best views we had ever seen. There were 4 sleeping bags and pillows laid out on the terrace which meant that we were to be sleeping under the stars with the sounds of the jungle that night!
From the treehouse, we quickly dumped our bags and then headed up a trail towards the top of the waterfall (Thanking god that it was close as we were all pretty shattered at this point). We all took turns abseiling down the 60m waterfall, which was incredible as it was... and then the tour guide only went and asked us if we wanted to do it again as we had some time free. Ermm... yes!? Of course we bloody do! We all had a second go and then headed back to the treehouse for dinner, chuffed with the day we had had.
Dinner was delicious and in plentiful amounts of course, the same as every other home cooked meal we’ve received from locals! We all sat on the floor around a table, lit by candle light, chatting and drinking rice wine until it was time to say goodnight. The rice wine was epic, brewed by the crazy mountain man who lived in and looked after the mountain treehouse. We even did the shots out of home made bamboo shot glasses! They gave the remainder of the bottle to Jac, who polished the lot off before bed!
The next morning, we woke up at 7am to the sounds of the birds and the monkeys calling away in the trees. We actually woke up a few times that night as the chef who lives in the treehouse permanently has a kitten... and that little kitten, adorable as he is, is a nightmare when you are sleeping on the floor! The kitten kept sitting on our faces whilst we slept and at one point I woke up and it was actually inside my sleeping bag!! I have a hard enough time coping with Jac as a needy boyfriend, let alone having to put up with this kitten as well, haha!
We had breakfast that morning, which was delicious and then set out for day two at 10am. However, before that, Jac and I had some unfinished business to take care of. One of the tour guides said we could go up to the very top of the waterfall if we wanted to... without any guidance as long as we be careful! We whizzed up and down it in the morning and it was by far one of mine and Jacs favourite moments of the trip, highlighting once again just how cool these tour guides were!
Day two of the tour was awesome! We went down about 10-15 zip-lines through huge jungle canopies.
It was so much fun zipping between trees, over huge streams and between giant valleys. Some of the zip lines were huge! Some were so close to the jungle canopy that you'd hit the tops of branches on your way! (Keep your legs up guys!)
We also did loads of huge abseils from the tallest trees in the jungle - some were 50m high! We couldn’t believe how many there were and had the best time whizzing down them all. We couldn’t believe the speed of the tour guide too, he literally free fell from the top of the abseils and caught himself just before he hit the bottom every time! Crazzzzy guy!
We zip-lined, literally the entire way back down the mountain we'd climbed the previous day. There was probably no more than a couple of km left to walk back to the base camp when we had finished. It was amazing because the alternative option was to slide down on our bums in the mud as it was pretty muddy on the way up and poured with rain whilst we slept. We had an amazing lunch of sausage, chicken, rice and a great salsa right next to a picturesque small stream. We jumped on the truck around 1pm, feeling absolutely shattered from the challenge but seriously happy with our experience! We’d recommend the Vang Vieng Challenge to anyone and would love to answer any questions if you have them in the comments below!
We've been travelling for 6 months now! Both of us love to blog and vlog and share our experiences with you! We try to only ever include things we've done in our blogs and certainly in our adventure blogs everything has been tried and tested.