Explorations in Idyllic Luang Prabang

Elephants are my favourite animals in the world. They are such gentle, smart and graceful creatures.



However, I've recently learned about the cruelty elephants face in the tourism industry.

Elephants are not domesticated the same way as dogs or cats. They are wild animals. To domesticate an elephant, humans must torture them when they are babies. Young elephants are kidnapped from their mothers and then locked into small cages where they have little to no space to move. They are then beaten and starved to ensure submission. This process is called "the crush".

Every elephant in the tourism industry has experienced "the crush". It breaks my heart. This practise continues on a regular basis because tourists are willing to pay big bucks to ride elephants or see them do tricks.

I've vowed to never ride an elephant again. I don't want to promote any practises that could harm these beautiful animals. If you want more information on the subject, here's a great article explaining why you shouldn't ride elephants in Southeast Asia.

On our way to the Tad Sae Waterfalls, I was taken by surprise when I saw these cuties. I firmly said no to all the elephant rides and continued my way to the waterfalls. But as I was passing by, I crumbled and went to say hi.


I bought handfuls of bananas and thought they'd like a treat.




Bananas disappeared in a heartbeat and I kept going back to the fruit man for more.




I hope these amazing animals are well cared for. I also wish there was more I could do to stop this horrible industry. I think the first step is raising awareness. Many of us are ignorant (myself included) and have no idea what goes on behind closed doors at zoos, circuses and elephant parks. If you want to help end this inhumane practise, I urge you to not pay for any elephant rides while on holiday.

Once all the bananas were gulped down, I gave the gorgeous elephants one final petting and made my way to the Tad Sae Waterfalls.




The whole place was flooded just like the Kuang Si Waterfalls! Endless streams of water rushed over multi-level limestone formations before settling into large pools below.




Marc took this opportunity to take a refreshing dip.



Once he dried off, we hopped on a long tail boat and whizzed back to the other side of the river. It was time to return to town and grab some brunch.




After a quick change, Marc and I went to Pilgrims Cafe, a very popular breakfast joint in Luang Prabang. We both ordered their french toast special.




Oh my god, it was the best french toast I've ever tasted! If you're in the mood for something else, the restaurant also serves a variety of Western, Mexican and Indian food. Their coffee is also the best in the city! 

When my french toast binge was over, it was time for a siesta. After two months of being on the road, I was pooped and needed to take an afternoon off to relax. 

In the evening, I woke up refreshed and went to check out the local night market. 




Food vendors grilled up a storm.  The smell of smokey barbecue wafted through the market while the heat from the coals warmed my cheeks. 

Past the food street was an endless array of jewellery, clothing and handicrafts. Definitely a great place to hunt for souvenirs! 






Guess what are in those bottles. Yep, you got it: snakes and other creepy crawlies. I was so tempted to buy one and dare some friends from home to drink it! 

The Luang Prabang night market is open daily until 10pm and located by the Mekong River on Sisavangvong Road. Most goods are also Laotian made which means your purchases are a great way to support the local economy. 

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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