One of the main features of the town is a long, mostly unused, airfield runway parallel to the road. It was used during the Vietnam War by the Air America's planes (the airstrip was then called "Lima site 6").
The town started to grow in the 1980s, due to the influx of backpackers. The opportunity for hiking and the laid-back atmosphere attracted more and more visitors.
The market is located five kilometres north of the town selling Lao textiles, household items and several stalls selling foodstuffs. The town is situated on the main north-south highway, Route 13 from Luang Prabang to the capital, Vientiane.
Tubing in Vang Vieng is popular. There are bars lining the shore of the Nam Song river that have swing ropes or water slides for the tubers to use as an attraction.