Bamboo Bongs

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Bamboo Bongs: everything you need to know.

Beginners are cautioned to take a seat, as the powerful head-rush can make you faint.

Let me introduce you to yet another Vietnamese custom: the bamboo bong.

You will see (and especially hear) these things everywhere you go in Vietnam. I know what you’re thinking, and no, everyone isn’t smoking Cambodian weed. They are smoking a light-colored, but very strong, Laotian tobacco. It’s a bit confusing at first, but the more you know about it, the more it makes sense.


Curious? Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • You’ll need: a bong, a bucket, some tobacco, and a lighter/matches.

  • You grab a small pinch of tobacco and roll it into a pea-sized ball between your fingers and thumb.

  • Load your little tobacco ball into the bowl.

  • Keeping it pretty much vertical, light it, and inhale very slowly.

  • When there’s nothing left to burn, turn it over to point the bowl into the bucket.

  • A quick breath out clears the ash into the bucket (if a little water comes out too, that’s fine).

  • Bring it back to your mouth almost horizontally (but don’t drink it, Chase).

  • Put it to the side of your mouth so you can inhale the smoke and some fresh air at the same time (the slurping/chirping/whistling sound tells you you’re doing it right)

  • Clear the bong (the pros will use a couple fingers over the bowl as a carb).

  • Exhale, sit back, and relax.

Disclaimer: this is not good for your health (but hey, what is?)


Hilariously, this has been one of our most effective ways to assimilate with the locals and earn their trust. Whether you’re sitting at the mechanic waiting for your bike to get fixed, or sitting at a restaurant waiting for your check, there is always one nearby. Since these big bags of tobacco only cost about $0.50 USD, much less than a pack of cigarettes, everyone’s always happy to share.

So if you find yourself in Vietnam, and you’re into that kinda thing, give it a try. The locals will love you for it. Just don’t go making it a habit!

TL;DR - Everybody in Vietnam smokes Laotian tobacco out of bamboo tubes turned into bongs. If you’re feeling like assimilating with locals and getting a quick buzz at the same time, check it out.

- Embry