Our best day in Luang Prabang was spent outside the city. We hired a tuk tuk driver and set off to the Kuang Si Falls, we had heard that 150K was a fair price and managed to barter our guy down to 160K. Then we found a few more tourists who wanted to go and managed to settle for 40K each. Our driver was pretty happy with his deal and whisked us away whilst listening to an interesting selection of music that included Michael Jackson.
The falls are situated a good 45 minutes drive or maybe longer when the topic of conversation in your tuk tuk is deep house music and Australian music festivals. A cheap entrance fee of 20K kip allows entrance to the park that also houses the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. This is run by Free the Bears, the same organisation that we spent a day with in Cambodia. Needless to say I was more excited about the bears than by anything else. We arrived around midday and there was lots of fruits out for the bears, they seemed to be really happy foraging for food inside their enclosures.
After spending way longer than anyone else staring at bears and snapping photos we walked on up to the first swimming area. Our fellow tuk tuk passengers were already swimming away but we decided to walk up a bit further and see what the other areas were like. They were pretty impressive and we were lucky that they were still pretty quiet.
At the biggest waterfall you can walk to the top of it, the path on the right hand side leads up there. It was a lot more slippy and muddy than we first anticipated and Pinion soon bailed on me (she has lost her walking boots making her more wobbly than ever). I sweated my way up the rocks for 15 minutes and soon made it to the top. Whilst the views weren’t exactly spectacular it was still nice to visit this bit of the park. If you bring your money up you can even buy a beer to celebrate. Don’t be put off by the effort it took me to get up here, there were plenty of families with grannies eating picnics and pretty much everyone else I passed was wearing flip flops. I’m the sort of person who struggles to cross a busy road whilst wearing them so boots were more appropriate.
View from the top:
After picking Pinion up and heading back down we were ready for a swim. Some of the pools were really busy but we managed to find one that was empty. Still not sure why but there was definitely a sign that said you could swim there.
The water was freezing and full of little fish who liked to nibble on you. We had agreed for our driver to wait 3.5 hours but were quickly running out of time if we wanted to visit the Kuang Si Butterfly Park as well. So I pulled myself out of the lovely waters and headed the 5 minutes or so back down the road to the butterfly park. This park has opened relatively recently and is run by a Dutch couple who moved here to help teach people about conservation and ecology. They are hoping to run school trips to their park soon. For 30K the park is well worth a visit, we even got to try a natural fish spa that seemed a whole lot less mean than the ones with fish kept in tanks. The fish certainly enjoyed it more than Pinion!
The butterfly park was lots of fun and we were disappointed we couldn’t spend more time there, if you have a couple of weeks you can even volunteer there! Some of the volunteers will give you a little tour if you ask, showing you some caterpillars and their cocoons.
As a small last note, Free the Bears don’t get any money from the waterfall’s entrance fee. You can buy small gifts or t-shirts at their small stall and so here is Drogo my new bear (cause my backpack is not close to being full or anything).
Drogo the bear: