Sports and Fitness in Vientiane
Whether you are new in town and trying to find familiar faces, or you drank too much Beerlao and need to get rid of that potbelly, sports is a sure solution to your problem.
Many people in Vientiane rely on these sports groups to meet other expats or make friends who they don’t necessarily see all day at work. In true Lao style, sports in this hot and sweaty country is often more about the social aspect than the gruelling exercise. This being said, considering the amount of rice we eat here, a bit of cardio can be necessary, even when its hot out.
The Vientiane sports-scene is as diverse as the origins of its locals and expats. The Vientiane sport and fitness Facebook group is a great place to find team players, games, teams or casual game play buddies. Its also the first point of contact if you want to start your own new sports team.
Facebook Group “Vientiane Sport and Fitness”
Even if you have never been into sports, don’t know any of the rules, or you have never even heard of a sport, it could be exciting to try it at least once! Here are some pointers to get you started.
SabaiDisc Lao PDR is a group of men and women who play ultimate Frisbee twice a week. Practices take place at the US Ambassador’s Athletic Field (click here for map) on Mondays (6:20 pm to 8:30 pm) for pickup casual games and Thursdays (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm) for drills and training. Ultimate Frisbee is a fast paced non-contact team sport played with a Frisbee.
Rates for players are 20 000 Kip on Mondays and 10 000 Kip on Thursdays; lower rates are also available for 6 month memberships.
For more information, or to join, find the SabaiDisc Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/SabaiDiscLao/
The Hoops, established for over 12 years ago, is a football team made up of mainly foreigners, playing in Vientiane. They play every Saturday against local Lao teams or some company teams, with mid-week games sometimes making a feature. Although their Facebook page is by invitation only, you can contact Stuart Glover (on the Vientiane Social or Vientiane Sports and Fitness Facebook pages) if you’re interested. Anyone is welcome, even travellers who are only around for a short time, or newbies keen for social participation.
If volleyball is your thing, join the competitive co-ed volleyball group, operating since 2013. They play on Thursdays at the Vientiane International School (VIS) from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. There is a fee that needs to be collected to pay for the court rental so drop-ins are required to pay 30 000 kip per night, or you can join at a long term fee of 200 000 Kip. Your first visit is free, so don’t be scared to join just to try it!
For more info please join their Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/350526915088830/.
Vientiane Buffalos Rugby Club is a favourite among expats, with both mens and ladies teams for all ages and skill levels. There are currently two mens teams, a womens team (Buffalettes) and touch rugby games. Training is on Tuesdays evenings at 6:30 pm with casual touch rugby games on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am at the field next to the US Ambassador’s Residence.
Teams mostly compete in 10s tournaments and hold several achievements such as Plate winner at Vientiane 10’s (2019), Cup winner at Isan 7’s championship (2018). The Vientiane Buffalos participate in the Indochina Cup and teams participate in the Colour’s League and the Vientiane International Rugby Championship. The teams also travel to Thailand to participate in other tournaments such as Bangkok 10s, RBSC International Rugby 10s, Phuket 10s etc.
Running is fairly popular in Vientiane, with several marathons, trail runs and sponsored runs throughout Laos. Specifically, the Vientiane International Marathon which takes place annually in winter when the rains have died down.
There is an interval and core training group, Team We Run, who meet at the Chao Anouvong Stadium on Thursdays at 5:30 pm. They also do a long road run (6 to 42 km, different options available) starting at the Flag Poles next to the Mekong River on Sundays, meeting between 3:00 to 6:00 am, depending on your chosen distance. This groups posts regularly on the Vientiane Sports and Fitness group, so keep an eye out if you’re keen to join.
The Vientiane Hash House Harriers are a group who organise weekly road and trail runs in and around Vientiane. The club has been around since the 80’s and is open to anyone. The runs are marked and are followed by beers and drinks at the end destination, covered by the running fee charged. For more information on what to expect and the locations of the next run, check out their website: http://hashlaos.com/. Additionally, this group also organises monthly cycle routes for cyclists.
Badminton is a very popular sport in Laos. Unfortunately, not many open groups exist, but it is possible to find a partner on the Vientiane Sports and Fitness Facebook page. There are several badminton courts scattered around Vientiane, but booking is recommended at some of the more popular courts as they get quite busy in the evenings. Rackets are available at many sports shops throughout the city and are often sold by expats moving away (check the Vientiane Buy & Sell Facebook group).
There are several golf courses driving ranges in Vientiane. As golf is a popular sport in South East Asia, golf courses are scenic and well maintained, with several golf instructors available in Vientiane. Caddies are available at all golf courses, ranging in fees. For more information on pricing and booking, please visit their websites.
- KM6 is the cheapest 9-hole in town, although it tends to be quite busy on weekends. https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Local-Business/Vientian-KM6-Golf-Club-117701824978938/
- South East Asian (SEA) Games Golf Course boasts 27 holes and is located at KM 18. https://www.facebook.com/SEAGAMESGC/
- Mekong Golf & Resort is a more challenging 18-hole course very popular with Korean Tourists. https://www.laosgolf.com/golf-courses/mekong-golf-resort/
- Lake View Golf Course is a more up-scale 18-hole course complete with a driving range to warm up or practice. https://www.facebook.com/lakeviewgolfclub.vientiane/
- Lao Country Club is a well-maintained 18-hole course at a moderate price. https://www.facebook.com/laocountryclub/
- Long Vien is a moderately priced 27-hole golf course with a driving range, all kept in great condition. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Long-Vien-Golf-Club/142637773042868
- Dansavanh Golf & Country Club is an 18-hole course a bit further out from city, which also houses a casino. https://www.dansavanh.net/hotels/golf
There are two dedicated driving ranges in Vientiane. Benz and Boeing is the cheaper of the two and also houses a couple of golf shops. LaneXang Golf Driving Range https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Sport/Lanexang-GOLF-1225412124179756/ is a completely astroturf range (as opposed to the grass at Benz and Boeing) where a trendy restaurant and bar is scheduled to open soon.
If hiking is your thing and you’re not too bothered by the heat, join the Vientiane Hikers Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/160138741168413/
Here you can join or organise a hike or get great tips and routes. The Phou Khao Khonay National Park is a great area for hiking, although it is a bit further out from Vientiane. The Houay Nhang Forest Reserve is a bit closer and just off Route 10. Further along the road you will find Nong Nok, a conservation and nature tourism project, where you can follow a trail around the lake for birdwatching.
The Belgian Club Vientiane has the only squash courts in town. They’re open weekdays 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and you can book by contacting the club directly. Although your first time on the court is free, you need to join the club to gain further access (membership is only 100 000 LAK for one year). Once you are a member, you can also bring a guest for free. (Overall not a bad deal).Court hire is 100 000 LAK per hour and rackets and balls are available for rent or sale. Finally, remember that non-marking court shoes are required!
Team Dai is a local cycling group riding 5 times a week (both on and off-road) and training for their annual 4 day challenge to raise funds for local charities. New cyclists are always welcome and more info is available on their facebook page and website. To join the team, you can also sign up on the google group.
Tuesday and Thursday rides are fast paced (30+ km/h) and short (20 km) srarting at the watertower on Dongpayna at 6:00 am.
Wednesday and Friday rides are about 20 km, meeting at the corner of Kouvieng and Sokpaluang road at 5:50 am. Wednesday rides are mostly road bikes and Fridays mostly mountain bikes.
Sunday rides meet at 7:00 am at Joma in the city centre for a longer ride (60 to 80 km).
The Chao Anouvong Tennis Club is part of the Lao National Stadium. With 6 tennis courts open during evenings, you can rent a court for 30,000 kip and 35,000 kip for 2 rackets and balls. Opening hours are daily from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm. For more information you can call the club.
Tel: +856 21 560 006
Field hockey is played weekly and is open to anyone aged 14 or over, male or female. No experience is necessary, equipment is provided and your first session is free, followed by 40 000 LAK per session. The team meets at 6-7pm every Thursday at Spirit Soccer Field and also participates in several tournamets in Laos and Thailand. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Floor ball (Similar to Canadian Floor hockey) is also a local favourite played indoors at the Vientiane international School on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
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by Lara Alexander, copyright J&C Services 08/2019