Luang Prabang: Waterfalls, Bears and Bakeries
After a smooth motorbike ride from Nong Khiaw, we arrived in Luang Prabang around noon and stopped at Joma Bakery for lunch. And that’s when it happened. We weren’t even there an hour and we fell in love with Luang Prabang…
It was like we teleported right out of Asia and into Europe with its charming streets, French architecture and bakeries on every corner. It was by far the cleanest city we’ve visited in S.E. Asia and the air was so fresh – something we have certainly missed. It is also full of tourists so it was strange being around all white faces in the middle of S.E. Asia – a lot like Chiang Mai in that sense. There was so much we wanted to do – waterfalls, caves, trekking, temples – but we only had 2 days there and it wasn’t nearly enough time.
Kuang Si Waterfall
There are tuk-tuks on every street corner ready to take you to Kuang Si Waterfalls, the largest of the waterfalls near Luang Prabang. Of course we had our motorbike so opted to drive the 35 kilo trip ourselves. It was a nice drive and a pretty quick trip. We left around 9:30 am in hopes of beating the crowds, and we did! It cost us 2,000 kip (approx $0.25) to park the bike right outside. The entrance fee was 20,000 kip each ($2.50 USD). From there the waterfalls are just a 5 minute trek.
Since we beat most of the crowds, Charlie was the first one brave enough to take a dive into the chilly, turquoise swimming pools.
There are plenty of areas to picnic so plan on spending the day there. They also have changing rooms available so bring your bathing suit, even if you don’t think you will swim. You might regret it later! If you want to avoid crowds, get there early like we did. By noon, the pools were filling up with people. The falls were the best we’ve seen thus far, so definitely add this one to your itinerary!
Bear Rescue Centre
The Bear Rescue Centre is located at the same entrance as Kuang Si Waterfall so you can’t miss it. This centre is supported by Free The Bears Fund, an Australian charity. Here they care for Asiatic Black Bears that were rescued from illegal wildlife trade. It’s definitely worth popping over to see these adorable teddy bears. Feeding time is around 12:30, which we just missed by a few minutes, but there was still one digging around for food.
Luang Prabang Bakeries:
I’d have to say the best part of Luang Prabang was the food, specifically the baguette sandwiches. We used to practically live on Publix subs back home so after 3 months of being in Thailand, we could not wait to get our hands on one of these famous baguette sandwiches. Like Pad Thai in Thailand, you can find these on nearly every corner, usually ranging from 10-20,000 kip ($1.25 – 2.50 USD) depending on your fillings…and there are plenty of options for everyone.
When we weren’t eating these, you could find us grubbing out at Joma Bakery, the spot I previously mentioned. This was the first place we stopped at in Luang Prabang, as well as the last and about 5 times in between. From cinnamon buns to reuben sandwiches, and potato soup to gingerbread lattes we just couldn’t get enough of it. It’s a must if you are ever in Luang Prabang.
You will find there are no shortage of sweets in this town either. It’s probably a good thing we only stayed two days, or we might have doubled our weight 😉
All in all, Luang Prabang flew to the top of our list of most favorite cities we’ve visited. It was quite unexpected, as it is like no other city in Laos – completely different from Northern Laos as well as Vang Vieng but all of them spectacular in their own way.
Check out our video from the falls: