Vang Vieng is an adventure seeker’s destination. From tubing (floating on a tube on the river), hot air ballooning, hiking, rock climbing, to renting a buggies and ATVs, it’s all about finding different ways to explore its outdoor beauty. As someone who loves hiking, it was no surprise that I wanted to go up Pha Ngern, the most scenic hike in Vang Vieng.
Unfortunately, my hopes were soon thwarted by a language barrier; instructions lost in translation. Although I wanted to hike up Pha Ngern Trailhead, I was taken to the starting point for Pha Ngern Silver Cliff by my tuk-tuk driver. Fortunately, the two hikes are very close to each other, with almost similar views. So, I decided to stop complaining and just hike up the Silver Cliff instead.
Pha Ngern Silver Cliff – Distance and Elevation
From what I learned, the Pha Ngern Silver Cliff hike is slightly shorter than Pha Ngern Trailhead. And in terms of elevation too, Pha Ngern Silver Cliff is a bit lower.
The main difference obviously is terms of the views. Both have amazing views, but of slightly different areas.
- Items to carry
- Insect repellent
- Torch (especially if you’re planning on doing this as a sunset hike)
- Comfortable hiking shoes, the exposed rocks are very slippery.
- A pollution mask
- Sunglasses or anything to cover your eyes from the dust (this is for before the hike)
How to get to Pha Ngern Silver Cliff Starting Point
To get to the starting point you can either take a cycle, a buggy, tuk-tuk, or walk it from Vang Vieng. The starting point is about 4 kms from the centre of the town and is marked on Google Maps.
I rented a tuk-tuk and made him wait for me to complete the hike, otherwise I wouldn’t been had any mode of transport to take me back. He charged me 30,000 Kip (approx. USD 3.4).
You can also rent a buggy from the town. Rental prices depend on how long you plan to keep the vehicle. It’s probably best to keep the buggy for the day and explore other stuff too, like the many blue lagoons.
If you plan to cycle to the starting point, keep in mind that it’ll take you about 20 minutes to get there. And finally, you could even walk to the starting point. The walk would take you about 50 minutes from the town-centre.
Just a pro-tip, remember to carry a pollution mask or cover your mouth and nose on your journey to Pha Ngern as the roads are dusty. You’ll thank me later for this tip.
Once you reach the starting point, remember that the entry to the hike is 10,000 Kip (approx. USD 1.1) and is paid at the kiosk. The money goes into preserving the trail and helping local communities
The starting point also has a seating area, and toilets.
To the First Viewpoint
The Pha Ngern Silver Cliff consists of two viewpoints. The first viewpoint is approximately 650-700 metres from the base and it faces east, towards Vang Vieng.
The initial part of the trail is a gradual climb, but it gets steeper pretty soon. Luckily, 650 metres isn’t that long of a hike, at least for me. And the best part is that the trail is completely shaded, all the way to the top.
Still, the hike is quite challenging in parts thanks to the slippery rocks. Thankfully, there is a steel-wire running along the trail to hold onto and prevent yourself from slipping.
The viewpoint is a covered platform with beautiful views of the east. Its view is similar to that you would get from on top of the Pha Ngern Trailhead.
Take your time to soak in the beauty and enjoy the views of Vang Vieng from the first viewpoint.
The Second Viewpoint
If I hadn’t asked the person at the kiosk how many viewpoints are there on the Pha Ngern Silver Cliff, I would have probably returned after reaching the first viewpoint. But fortunately, I did ask him and he emphatically told me that there are two viewpoints. So, I continued hiking after the first viewpoint.
Luckily, the distance between the first and second lookout points is only about 350 metres, and the trail is relatively flat.
The second viewpoint is on the opposite side of the hill, facing west. In fact, it’s one of the best places to catch the sunset in Vang Vieng, completely free of any obstructions.
It too has a covered platform for you to sit in and enjoy the views.
Unlike the first lookout point, the second lookout is on top of Pha Ngern Silver Cliff. The views from the top of the hill, of the surrounding landscape and villages below is stunning!
Just one thing that I think is worth sharing is that the last couple of hundred metres to the second viewpoint is over jagged rocks which are very sharp. So be careful as you hike up, and wear comfortable hiking shoes so as to not hurt yourself.
Sunset from Pha Ngern Silver Cliff
If you plan to stay here for the sunset, make sure you carry a torch and hike with a partner. I met a couple of groups who hiked up to the Pha Ngern Silver Cliff just for the sunset. So, in all probability you won’t be alone.
And by the way, that evening was one epic sunset!
Pha Ngern Silver Cliff Hike, Vang Vieng
I hope you found this guide to the Pha Ngern Silver Cliff hike helpful. If I had more days in Vang Vieng, I would have definitely gone up Pha Ngern Trailhead. But unfortunately, we had to return to Luang Prabang the next day.
And finally, do check out our photo gallery from Vang Vieng to further inspire your travel to Laos.