Nam Dong Park and The Long Lao Trek
Nature’s Best: Nam Dong Park and The Long Lao Trek
This day trip itinerary takes in the very best of nature’s beauty – starting at the Nam Dong Park, then a jungle trek from a Hmong village to the world famous Kuang Si Falls…finishing with some moon bears and butterflies!
1. Nam Dong Park
Only 10 kilometres from Luang Prabang, Nam Dong nature park was opened in September 2016 and is a huge asset to the town. This well-planned, well-executed leisure area offers up a range of activities – from zip lining to fish feeding – and many shady places to sit and enjoy the view. To reach the centerpiece of the park, Nam Dong Falls, you walk past a field of roses and an organic vegetable garden. There’s a wooden balcony over the gushing water where you can feast on Lao food from the nature park restaurant as you take in the inspiring scenery. There are several safe spots to swim. There’s also a treehouse spa where you can treat yourself to a massage – as well as a bee farm on site, which means you can take home some freshly potted honey. A public jumbo runs between Phousi Market and Ban Long Lao daily. It stops at Nam Dong Dam, close to the entrance of the park – but the easiest way to get there is by hiring a motorbike or getting a tuk tuk.
2. The Long Lao Trek
This trek begins at a Hmong village and takes you through rubber plantations, past rice paddies and over jungle-covered hills. Depending on the time of year and conditions, it usually takes 3-4 hours. About an hour into the trek you’ll come across a beautiful natural spring, which makes for a good spot to stop and have a snack. The final destination is the world famous Kuang Si Waterfall where you can cool down in the pools after your big hike. We recommend using a local guide for this trek as it can be difficult to navigate. There are two villages at Ban Long Lao and they usually take turns at providing visitors with a guide for a small fee. There are also several adventure companies in town that offer package tours that include this trek.
3. Kuang Si Waterfalls
If you ask any traveller who has been to Luang Prabang about the highlight of their trip – most will say, Kuang Si Waterfalls. Unlike other waterfalls in the area, Kuang Si flows all year round. During the dry season the pools at the base of the falls are a magnificent aqua-green colour – making it one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world. There are several picnic tables and seats dotted around the park where you can enjoy a snack after a cool dip. There are also restaurants on the road leading to the entrance of the park where you can purchase simple Lao food.
Beware that the edges of the waterfall are extremely slippery so extreme caution should be taken when walking around this site, especially when entering the water. Read more
4. Bear rescue centre
At the entrance to the waterfall park you will find the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, run by the Australian-based not-for-profit organisation known as Free The Bears. There are more than 35 bears that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade currently residing in this centre where they are given space to play, nutritious meals, and loving-care. The centre relies on public donations as they do not receive any money from the fee that is paid by tourists to enter Tat Kuang Si. The centre hopes, in the near future, to move most of these bears to a larger facility and is currently raising money to make this happen. There are more than 100 bears still living in terrible conditions in bear bile farms in Laos which profit from the demand for bear body fluid for the Asian medicine trade. Be sure to buy a Free The Bears t-shirts to support the their amazing work when you visit the centre.
5. Kuang Si Butterfly Park
What better way to end the day than with a fish foot spa in a natural stream, surrounded by butterflies and tropical plants? In 2014 a very passionate Dutch couple decided to open this butterfly park – creating a sanctuary for two-winged beauties, as well as an important educational facility for local school children. They have put a lot of love and care into the design of the park and one of the most charming features is their natural foot spa – where you can sit on a wooden chair and let the little fish in the local stream nibble at your toes. There’s a café serving delicious sandwiches on site and plenty of butterflies to enjoy!