As one walks along the street in Luang Prabang, the call goes out from every taxi, minibus and tuk tuk driver “Waterfall”. Okay yes, it is the top attraction and we had been resisting it, but it is our last day so we give in!
We start early and head out to the Kuang Si Waterfall. The falls are 32 kms out of town and are renowned for their wonderful turquoise coloured water. So created by the water journeying over limestone on its way from the spring.
But before we reach the waterfalls, we have another treat in store. After the entry to the falls you go through the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. Not only is this charity supported by Australian Volunteers but also by the University of the Sunshine Coast. So as Queenslanders we had to pay it and their adorable rescue bears a visit! And I am happy to report we found large enclosures and very contented looking bears. James had to drag me away!
Next onto those falls. And from our first glimpse, we are mesmerised. The colour of the water is phenomenal and the artistic formation of the waterfalls almost looks man-made. As James said a theme park wanting to create a fantasy waterfall should come here. You can swim in some of the pools but instead we decide to walk to the top. What is it about stairs and steep ascents and us? On reflection I think a swim might have been a better idea as the path is very steep, without any great top of waterfall views.
We leave the falls just as the crowds start to arrive and head off to the Kuang Si Butterfly Park which is only just down the road. This is the brainchild of a couple from the Netherlands and was only opened in 2014. As well as a stunning butterfly enclosure there are lovely gardens, a cafe and my personal favourite a “Fish Spa”.
After having our toes nibbled we are off to another newly opened attraction a buffalo diary. In our Laos Airlines inflight magazine we read about an Australian and an American couple starting this project and were keen to see it. Rather than own the buffalos, they rent them from the villages to make their cheese, yogurts and ice creams. They also ensure the animals, especially the young calves, get all the veterinary care they need. This has substantially increased the survival rate of the calves. As well as buffalos there are also piglets, chickens and rabbits to enjoy. The farm is very interactive with the chance to feed not only the mothers waiting to be milked some grass, but also the babies a bottle! On the way out we indulge in an ice cream, of course!
This mightn’t be everyone’s idea of Luang Prabang’s top attractions but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And yes, I was desperate for an animal fix or two!
Tips for seeing these sights
Every taxi, tuk yuk and minivan in Luang Prabang is keen to take you out to the waterfall, so getting transport out there is no problem. Part of the deal is they wait for you. Our driver asked for 200,000 kip we offered 150,000kip, we ended up paying 180,000kip (about $29). This included stopping at all the sights we wanted and returning us to our hotel, about 5 hours in all.
There is an entry fee for all these attractions, apart from the bears as that is included wth the Waterfall entrance fee.
All the attractions have food available.
The waterfalls get very busy so get there early, they open at 7.30am. Do take your togs and a towel to the waterfalls as the swimming did look very good and there are changing rooms there.
As I said I wouldn’t really recommend the walk to the top as it is very steep and would be treacherous when wet. If you are keen to do it wear walking boots.