The Bear Sanctuary at Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Sound familiar?  This is the second installment in our Bear Sanctuary travels – the first being back from our first trip in the Balkans last October.  I’d say I’d think it’s the last, but there’s a magnetic power of attraction between David and me and orphan bear sanctuaries.  And no, I’m not complaining.DSC_0713 (2) DSC_0738 (2)

The Kuang Si Falls, about 25km outside of Luang Prabang, Laos, are a staple on the town’s tourist circuit.  A lesser known attraction at the falls, however, is the Sun and Moon bear sanctuary.  Sad facts alert: In many parts of Asia (looking at you, China and Vietnam), bear bile (warning: GRAPHIC) is a prized ingredient thought to increase male virility and sexual prowess.  Thus, native bears (Sun Bears and Moon Bears are the only species left indigenous to Southeast Asia) and often poached and kept in inhumane conditions in order to harvest the bile they produce.DSC_0733 (2) DSC_0765

Look, I’m not saying sex isn’t important.  But if you can’t get it up, take a pill or talk to a shrink.

Back to the matter at hand – bears.  The bear sanctuary is located directly inside the gate to the Kuang Si Falls park.  In fact, tourists have to walk through it in order to get to the falls’ many swimming holes.  There, like in the Bulgarian bear sanctuary that we visited, you can learn about the individual bears being rehabilitated there, the history of bear poaching in the area, and lots of other random facts about the bears native to the region.DSC_0722 (2)

I have conflicted feelings about the way the bears are on display at Kuang Si.  My one concern, that of the bears being in too close of contact with too many tourists on any given day, is trumped heavily by the fact that those same tourists bring in revenue that help the plight of the bears – both in the sanctuary, and those still being poached from the wild.  There are ample donation opportunities, as well, and a chart on display is transparent about where the money goes when you purchase a T-shirt or calendar from the sanctuary.DSC_0759 DSC_0796 DSC_0709 (2)

Ultimately, we enjoyed our stroll through the sanctuary, despite being surrounded by more tourists than we’d like (we can’t help being misanthropes, OK?).  It’s encouraging to know that there are people in the world devoting themselves to these causes, and that tourists can make small gestures of understanding and appreciation through simple monetary donations – something we can feel good about after maybe drinking a cocktail bucket or two too many the night before.DSC_0748 (2) DSC_0745

And in closing, here’s a picture of a three legged bear playing tetherball.  You’re welcome.DSC_0755 (2)


Laos Bear Sanctuary PinterestYou can get to the Bear Sanctuary from Luang Prabang either by hired share tuk tuk or motorbike.  To get our own tuk tuk, it cost about $30 round trip, but it’s also easy to arrange a group to get a cheaper individual price.  The trip is on winding roads and is hilly, so take Dramamine if you need it.

You can also rent motorbikes in town for about $10-$15 a day.  Don’t take Dramamine and operate heavy machinery.

2 thoughts on “The Bear Sanctuary at Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

  • August 27, 2016, 10:20 pm

    Awww so cute! Do locals run the sanctuaries or foreigners? I often wonder about locals doing it because I second guess why they are doing it. I know I shouldn’t because I’m sure there are people there who really do care about them. It’s like Russia though. People here do not see anything wrong with elephants in the circus or puppies in pet stores. It makes me so sad, and I hate that my boyfriend loves that stuff.

    • August 28, 2016, 8:47 am

      Haha, that information would have maybe been relevant to include. It’s run by an Australian non profit – you can find more information about it here: http://www.freethebears.org/

      Yeah, it’s a sad irony for me that I love CIS circus buildings so much, but really hate what goes on inside their walls. 🙁

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