Cycling is popular and easy in Laos – there are few cars and people drive slow – and the Kuang Si Falls, located about 30 kilometres south of Luang Prabang, are a perfect day trip destination.
The journey to the waterfall is an uphill battle and the hot and humid weather makes it extra uncomfortable, but it’s worth the effort as it offers spectacular views. You pass green hills, small villages, terraced rice fields…
…as well as examples of local engineering…
To enter the Kuang Si Park everyone must pay an entry fee (20,000 kip). About halfway between the park entrance and the waterfall is the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre.
Both Asiatic Black Bear and Sun Bear are classified as vulnerable species. Threats include illegal poaching for bear parts, bear bile farming and illegal pet trade. Bear bile is used in traditional medicine and in many household products. Thousands of bears throughout Asia are confined to tiny cages and endure lives of suffering as bile is repeatedly extracted directly from their gall bladders using painful, invasive techniques, which cause massive infections. Some bears are caged as cubs and never released. Most farmed bears are starved, dehydrated and suffer from multiple diseases.
The bears living in the Bear Rescue Centre were rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers. They live in large enclosures with trees, fresh water pools, toys and swings.
The trail continues behind the Bear Rescue Centre and leads along picturesque blue pools and small falls.
The noticeably cooler weather and the numerous tables and benches placed by the water make it a really good place to escape the heat and have a picnic.
The welcoming and refreshing turquoise pools make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals. Some of the pools are open to swimming while others are considered sacred.
The path leads to the main fall with a 60 metres cascade.
The way back to Luang Prabang is a pleasant downhill ride with stunning views of sun setting behind the hills.