While in Luang Prabang these 2 activities were on the top of our list of things to do. How could we visit the land of a million elephants and not see one?
However being on a budget we searched around until we could it do as cheaply as possible. We had heard from friends that you can go out to the Elephant camps and just look at them for free. We decided to give it go.
Elephant Camp Luang Prabang:
We decided to go to the closest Elephant camp to town (11km away) as this would also cost the cheapest by tuk-tuk. We visited around 10 am in the morning after breakfast and we were the only people there. The elephants were all kitted up ready to take people on rides however we were just there to observe.
The elephants were in the forest next to the river and they were eating bamboo and trees. It was a surreal experience for the children especially our little one. It was a big bonus being the only tourists there and we were able to get up and personal with the elephants.
The trainers had a big basket of bananas, sugar palm and bamboo and we could purchase some for a couple of dollars to feed the elephants if we wanted.
This was the highlight for the kids. We stood on a platform and the trainers bought elephants over for us to feed. We also got to touch the elephants and have photos too.
The kids were amazed at how the elephants eat the sugar cane. The elephants would crack the branch with it’s trunk and take off all the outside layer and just eat the sugary goodness of the inside.
We spent about 90 minutes here with the elephants and when we left there were still no other tourists. On the way home we realised why. On our way out through the bumpy mountainous road a large truck was blocking the way as it ran out of petrol. We waited about 15 minutes before we could get through, however everyone else had been waiting about 90 minutes as it shut the road down both ways.
This activity was awesome and the total cost was only around $10 USD. (For the Tuk-Tuk and fruit for the elephants)
Kuang Si Waterfalls and Bear Sanctuary:
On another day we had plans to visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls. A large cascade tumbles down over limestone rocks from the jungle and that feeds a series of pools/lagoons. We had heard that they were amazingly beautiful and one of the highlights of Luang Prabang but they get super busy. Trying to beat the crowds we decided on an early one and got our Tuk-Tuk driver to pick us up around 7:00am.
We arrived at the falls around 7:30am just when the ticket booth was opening and we were the first ones in the park. They say the early bird catches the worm and we were very lucky to have most of the park to ourselves for our whole visit. We went straight to waterfall to take pictures. We also climbed to the top of the waterfall which was quite dangerous as none of us had the proper shoes on that day for a hike, but it was good exercise!
The view from the top was spectacular. Coming down was just as treacherous but we all made it safely. We also visited the Blue lagoon lakes in the grounds and J and Mac had a swim. On most days these lagoons are filled with people swimming.
Our last place to visit in the park was the Bear Sanctuary. It is also included in the cost of entry. (which is around $3 at the time of writing.) The bear sanctuary rescues bears from illegal poaching and trading. All of the bears here are Asiatic Black Bears.
As we were visiting early morning the bears were very active and we enjoyed watching them playing and fighting with each other. The bear sanctuary is also very educational and they try to teach people about illegal trade of animals and poaching that happens throughout Asia. They also have a “Free the Bear’s” fund and you can purchase a bear t.shirt for around $10 to support their cause.
Overall our day trip out to Kuang Si cost $25 AUD for our roundtrip in the tuk-tuk (It is a 45 minute drive out to the waterfall from Luang Prabang) and $15 for tickets into the falls.