The Road to Kuang Si Falls
Part 3 of New & Cool in Luang Prabang takes you on The Road to Kuang Si Falls, with six great attractions along the way. Get your hands dirty at Living Land Company’ s Organic Farm, or watch the buffalo dairy process, from utter to mozzarella, at the Lao Buffalo Farm. The Kuang Si Butterfly Park presents an educational respite, before a meal or drink in nature at Carpe Diem Restaurant. And then it’s the Save the Bears Sanctuary at the gateway to the grand prize…Kuang Si.
The Living Land Company
Start the day about 1 km south of town at the Living Land Company, a community-run organic farm that supplies fresh vegetables, herbs, salads, and rice to hotels and restaurants in Luang Prabang. Visitors can try their hand at planting or harvesting rice, and after time on the paddy, take a break in a Lao-style house overlooking the fields of organic vegetable and rice.
The Living Land Company follows a strict policy of composting and crop rotation to ensure the continued use and fertility of the land. Local families are invited to join students on scholarships to work on the farm. The families greatly benefit from the extra work, while Luang Prabang eating establishments reap the rewards of fresh, superior tasting, chemical- free produce for their guests.
Lao Buffalo Dairy Farm
A further 12 km down the road to Kuang Si, stop at the Lao Buffalo Farm, a socially-responsible enterprise that produces yogurt, cheese, and ice cream for local and overseas customers. The project began when a group, who accidently met in Singapore while on business, decided to move to Laos “for a new adventure – aka a mid-life crisis.” Upon arrival, they found demand for quality cheese, noticed buffalo everywhere, and discovered a non-existent dairy industry. As cheese eaters, they decided to do it themselves, while benefitting locals.
The farm’s concept is brilliantly simple. Lao Buffalo Dairy rents buffaloes from locals. This provides the families with a regular income stream from their under-utilised female buffaloes, while male buffaloes are sold for meat. Make a stop at the farm’s facility, where they milk the buffalo and keep them well fed, healthy, and safe.
Luang Prabang Elephant Camp
A short 1-km drive from the dairy farm places visitors at the Luang Prabang Elephant Camp for a life-changing experience with these magnificent mammals. Overseen by Mr Tha Thao, an elephant expert, the camp has grown in popularity in Asia as a responsible attraction, where tourists can get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Mr Tha and his mahouts present guests with the opportunity to learn about Asian elephants, participate in feeding and bathing them, and climb on their backs for a short and carefully controlled ride. A day-long mahout course is also available.
Luang Prabang Elephant Camp restricts elephants to three, 30-minute rides a day with a maximum of two riders. The elephants at the camp came from various logging camps in Laos, and Mr Tha and his mahouts have turned these starving, beaten, and over-worked pachyderms into healthy, relaxed, and happy campers.
The Kuang Si Butterfly Park
A quick 300-metre jaunt from the elephants leads to the Kuang Si Butterfly Park, a research centre created in 2014, to study Laos’ butterflies, host plants, and preservation, and to publish their findings. After strolling through the botanical grounds filled with fluttering butterflies, visitors can relax in nature at the park’s café on a pond, and enjoy a cup of coffee and baguette.
The Butterfly Park is open for schools to raise awareness about the beautiful and vulnerable nature in Laos. The park provides students with learning materials to preserve nature for their health, happiness, and future financial security. The centre is also looking for entomologists and botanists to help and develop the Dutch-initiated project.
Carpe Diem Restaurant
Carpe Diem Restaurant sits at the approach to Kuang Si in a green setting. Diners can enjoy the cooking or simply sip a cocktail while relaxing at the waterfalls. The restaurant’s designers created a layout that merges with nature, using local material when possible to respect the area’s beauty.
Carpe Diem works with small local producers to promote local trade and quality. The restaurant also presents 5% of guest’s bill to ASAS, which has been working in Laos for persons in need.
Free the Bears Sanctuary
Free the Bears Sanctuary sits at the entrance to Kuang Si Waterfalls. The sizeable natural habitat, reserved for the dwindling Asian Black Bear population, presents a playground, where visitors can watch the bears playing from a safe viewing platform. The best time to visit the bears is around 13:00, when they generally forage around the forest enclosure, looking for food and special treats.
While at the sanctuary, visitors will find information on the bears and details of the horrific bile farm industry, which is likely the reason the resident bears, rescued by the Lao authorities from the illegal wildlife trade, had been hunted. The sanctuary relies on donations from the public to operate. Visitors can make donations on site or purchase official souvenir t-shirts. All profits from t-shirt sales and donations go towards helping to look after the bears of Laos.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Kuang Si Waterfalls…the end of the rainbow on the 30-km road. One of Luang Prabang’s iconic natural attractions, Kuang Si, presents a three-tiered, 60-metre-tall cascade that plummets into shallow pools atop a steep hillside. A trail alongside the falls and its turquoise pools leads to the top with a bridge offering unrivalled photo-ops. Most pools are open for swimming.
Tour operators and agents in town offer full-day treks to Kuang Si. The energetic can immerse themselves into rural Luang Prabang and meet ethnic Khmu and Hmong in Long Lao Village on these excursions.