Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center, Luang Prabang, Laos

Visiting the bear rescue center and sanctuary in Luang Prabang, Laos

When you visit Luang Prabang, Laos, you will most likely eventually take a day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfall, which is located just 30km outside of Luang Prabang itself. Visiting Kuang Si Falls is a highlight of any trip to Luang Prabang, but there's more than just the waterfall at the Kuang Si Nature Park! When you visit, you'll learn that the forest park is also the home to the Laos Bear Rescue Centre.

When I visited the Kuang Si Falls for the first time, I didn't know anything about the bear sanctuary. As it turned out, visiting the bears ended up being one of the highlights of my trip to Luang Prabang.

Learn more: Visiting the Kuang Si Waterfall

bear rescue center at kuang si waterfall, luang prabang, laos
the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center, Luang Prabang, Laos
The Bear Rescue Center is a sanctuary for several different types of Asiatic black bears (a family which includes exotic bares like sun bears and moon bears). The bears at the sanctuary have all been rescued by the Lao government on raids against poachers, and are offered a second chance at life in a safe and healthy environment.

The problems of traditional medicine in Laos

Though a richly-ingrained part of the east Asian culture, the millennia-old practice of traditional medicine has proven disastrous for the region's bear populations. Laos is still very much a developing country, and proper medical care can be hard or impossible to reach outside of cities like Luang Prabang or Vientiane. The majority of the people in the more rural parts of country are forced to rely (due to lack of education and supplies) on traditional medical practices, many descended from either traditional Chinese medicine or ancient Lao shamanism.

In Lao traditional medicine, bear bile is believed by some to contain certain magical properties, and has come to be regarded as a sort of miracle medicine. Throughout the country, these rare and threatened bear species get trapped by poachers, forced to live in tiny cages, and milked for their bile in a heartbreaking and barbaric practice. Bear bile is also exported to China, which sadly helps to encourage the industry.

kuang si waterfall bear rescue, luang prabang, laos
bears at the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
Things began to look up for the bears in 1993 when an Australian grandmother turned on the television to see a documentary about the illegal black bear market in southeast Asia. She was inspired to do something to help. She took action, opening her first sanctuary in Cambodia, followed by the sanctuaries in Laos and Vietnam shortly afterwards.

bears at the kuang si waterfall rescue center luang prabang laos
black bears at Tat Kuang Si
The bear sanctuary at Kuang Si Falls is instrumental in rescuing, rehabilitating, protecting, and caring for bears that have been saved from this illegal trade. They have a huge natural habitat at Kuang Si, where they are given the best health care and protection to live out their lives in safety.

bear habitat in luang prabang, laos
the excellent bear habitat
When you visit the bear sanctuary, you get the chance to see these playful bears living their lives happily in their habitat. The sanctuary also provides lots of information about the bears and how people can help save them.

a group of asian black bears plays in luang prabang, laos
playful black bears at Kuang Si, Luang Prabang, Laos
It's not exactly a zoo, but they do rotate some of the bears from their huge habitat into a glass enclosure where visitors can watch them play. These were the most active bears that I've ever seen! They were playing with all of their toys and swings and having fun. If you are inspired to help out, you can even sponsor the bears by purchasing supplies, snacks, and toys for them (see link below).

a group of black bears playing in luang prabang, laos
bears playing and tumbling in Luang Prabang, Laos
Even if a visit to the bear sanctuary is just a detour on your day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfall, it just may end up being one of the highlights to your visit to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre Location

The Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center is located at the Kuang Si Waterfall, about 30km outside of Luang Prabang, Laos. You can reach it by taking a tour to the waterfall, or by renting a motorbike and driving yourself. You can find more information HERE on my post about visiting Kuang Si Falls.


Admission to the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos is free. Donations are accepted.

Support the Bear Rescue Centre

You can support the bear sanctuary by making a donation or purchase on their official website:

You can buy a gift for the bears by clicking HERE: https://freethebears.org/collections/gifts-for-bears

or you can buy a gift or souvenir for yourself or a friend from their shop by clicking HERE: https://freethebears.org/collections/gifts-for-humans

You can also make a donation HERE: https://freethebears.org/products/donate

(Please note that we are not sponsored or affiliated at all with the Bear Rescue Centre. I just think that it's an incredibly worthy cause that does a lot of good in Laos, and I want to encourage visitors to this blog to support such a great organization.)

luang prabang bear rescue centre luang prabang laos
you can buy a souvenir T-shirt at the bear rescue sanctuary to support the efforts of the centre

More to see in Luang Prabang: Kuang Si Falls

Learn more by visiting the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center's official website: