Elephant Rides and Kuang Si Waterfall – Day Trips from Luang Prabang

elephants, kuang si waterfall, laos, luang prabang

Week 80

Day 561

Luang Prabang, Laos

19.8833° N, 102.1333° E

Luang Prabang is a town you could spend days just chilling in.  Since we’ve been here, we’ve quickly fallen into a relaxing routine. Even though we could have spent weeks here enjoying the food and napping, there are also some awesome day trips you can sign up to do such as taking a boat up the river, visiting elephants, the Kuang Si waterfall, and buddha cave.

We’ve almost neared the end of our stay and we hadn’t even done the 2 main day trips we wanted to take, the visit to the elephants and Kuang Si waterfall.

Asking around I found out most of these day trips can be combined, but it takes a full day.  Being short on time I began asking around for a private driver.

Our homestay was able to book us a driver with all fees paid to visit and ride the elephants + explore the Kuang Si waterfalls for 900,000 Kip or just over $100 ($50 per person).

If you were to go with tour groups the elephant visit alone costs $25 + another $10-15 to see the waterfall.  After our experience we were super happy we went with the private tour.  Our air conditioned mini van passed dozens of packed tut tuts as we ventured down the rocky roads.  Just for the sake of a better ride, it was worth the $15 extra dollars a person.

The trip was pretty amazing!

Here is our photo tour:

To get to the elephants we first took a small boat ride up the river.   I wouldn’t want to be in a boat that held any more than Tom and I, the thing was pretty shaky.  Yet again another reason to go with a private tour.
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

Elephant riding is a pretty controversial thing in SE Asia.  In order to make the elephants docile and controllable apparently they are put through some pretty cruel treatment.  Many organizations are trying to make life better for these creatures.  We went to a sanctuary that rescues elephants who have been mistreated.  I guess if we are able to ride them they must have been abused in the past, but these guys seem to have it pretty good.  When they aren’t giving rides they are eating to their hearts content and every ride is rewarded with some tasty bananas. That being said I didn’t like that they were chained up 🙁 There are definitely mixed emotions when riding the elephants, but it was also an experience I’m glad I didn’t pass up.

IMG_0068
Elephants & Waterfalls

Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

It was crazy to sit on top of such a majestic creature.

The elephant tour also boasts a bonus waterfall feature.  The waterfall seemed pretty dry and dead to us.  It was even funnier when we got to the top and saw they pump the water down.

Elephants & Waterfalls

Just wait the waterfalls get better…

Elephants & Waterfalls

look at the pretty picture

Elephants & Waterfalls

…and now the source of the waterfall! :/ haha

Given the disappointing waterfall at the elephant sanctuary we weren’t expecting much when we arrived at Kuang Si, but our expectations were much surpassed.

Not only is there a butterfly farm, but we also stumbled upon a bear sanctuary on the way to the falls.  Home to rescued Sloth Bears, these creatures were definitely a cool surprise.
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

Then we hit the falls and they were spectacular.

There are so many of them. Just when you think you’ve hit the best pool, you continue up the path and it gets better.

Finally you hit the biggest of them all.
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

From here there is a hike to the top of the falls, which is very slippery and steep.  Of course we opted to explore, but alas the better swimming and view was definitely at the bottom.  The top was a little bit of a let down, but definitely a good work out.  Having worked up a sweat, we loved bathing in the cool springs before we headed back to town.
Elephants & Waterfalls
Elephants & Waterfalls

Before the entrance to the waterfalls there is small village with surprisingly well priced food.  I definitely recommend buying a sandwich and taking it in for a picnic! 🙂

What do you think about Elephant rides?

Leave us a comment and let us know if you think we should have skipped this controversial highlight.

 

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