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“Kuang Si Falls Visit”
Review of Banana Boat Tours

Banana Boat Tours
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Better Boat Trips on the Mekong. Welcome to Luang Prabang, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and convergence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. There are many sites to visit around this beautiful town and the best way to explore is by boat. Our trips include the highlights, Kuangsi Waterfall and Pak Ou Caves, along with other interesting stops, and the ever popular sunset cruise.
Reviewed 6 January 2013

We went the Temples, Bears, and Waterfalls trip (BB01). Emi met us and briefed us ahead of time and told us our captain's daughter spoke English and that we would have lunch after the temple/cave visit. We crossed the river to visit a temple and caves, but unfortunately, we received no map. Half of us reached the caves (which were not all that exciting), all of us were a bit confused on where we were supposed to go and everyone agreed a map and a bit more direction would be helpful (for example, Emi told us we had 1.5 hours and the driver said "40 minute!"). We took off down the Mekong in the boat, and after about 45 minutes, we asked about food and realized neither the captain nor his daughter spoke much English. Lunch was soggy, mayonnaise laden sandwiches, so I recommend bringing food and snacks. When we stopped at the village to go to the Kuangsi waterfalls, we were led to a flatbed truck. We had told Emi were were traveling with 4 children under the age of 8, and needless to say, we were quite nervous getting the kids in an open top, flat bed truck with nothing to hold on to. We started off with dirt roads, then the driver (who appeared to be about 13 years old) took off and drove very, very fast. The couple in the front cab were trying to get him to slow down, and he just kept driving very fast on the swervy, bumpy road. It was terrifying! We arrived safely at the falls and then asked the boat driver to call Emi for us. She was not at the office, but another person was able to translate for us. The ride back from the waterfalls was slower and felt safer. Interestingly, everyone else at the falls had tuk-tuks and covered vans, and we had the only open-top, flatbed truck. They did have BeerLao for the trip home.
The boat itself was comfortable, and the driver and his daughter were nice enough. The lack of direction, bad lunch and safety issues put a huge damper on what could have been an amazing day.

1  Thank Traveler123020
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MekongQueen, Owner at Banana Boat Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 11 January 2013

Thank you for your review. When we started with the temples and Kuangsi waterfall trip one customer said they also felt a bit confused about the temples with the drop off and pick up, so we put an explanation in the boat inside a book for the driver, and made sure everybody had a briefing before departure. I asked this same customrer if a map was necessary and they said they didn't think so, so we have been running for year without a map, but we can add one to the book, and let people know where to find it, and make sure our captain's and our briefings are all the same. We choose a simple baguette lunch because it probably appeals to most people and is easy for traveliing, but we will address the mayonnaise. For the truck, it is clear on all the information that is is a truck from the village to the waterfall, when I first came to Laos I always travelled with friends and family this way and found the truck reminiscent of my childhood holidays. I felt it more charming to arrive in local open-air style to the waterfall when everyone else is in their silver vans or jumbo tuk tuks which are hard to see out of. We will ask the captain to pass on the message to the villagers who drive to be careful, but it would be sad to change this part of the trip and hope our other customers like the truck. Luang Prabang is not as policed or regulated as more developed cities and fortunately without speed signs everywhere the majority of the population drive slowly and carefully.

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"flatbed truck"
in 7 reviews
"life jackets"
in 5 reviews
"pak ou caves"
in 13 reviews
"dried mushrooms"
in 3 reviews
"river life"
in 3 reviews
"fresh rolls"
in 2 reviews
"included snacks"
in 2 reviews
"mekong cruise"
in 4 reviews
"hotel pickup"
in 2 reviews
"across the river"
in 6 reviews
"local snacks"
in 3 reviews
"great trip"
in 5 reviews
"tuk tuk"
in 12 reviews
"kuangsi waterfall"
in 3 reviews
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in 2 reviews
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in 2 reviews
"private tour"
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75 - 79 of 90 reviews

Reviewed 1 December 2012

My partner and I did Off the Beaten Track Waterfall Cycling Adventure with Banana Boat in mid November 2012. It seems silly to pay $50 each for an unguided tour but we wanted to try something different. We are so glad that we did.

Right from the start I had good feelings as there was great communication. Emails were answered promptly and when I told the owner, Emi that my main concern is unable to get a right size bike, she scheduled a meeting for me to try the bikes ahead of the tour. Unfortunately, the bikes that she set aside for me was still too big for me or rather, I'm too short. To solve this, Emi immediately offered me her personal bike (it's a mongoose)!

On the day of the tour, we arrived at Stray Shop and were thrilled to learnt that we were the only participants for the day. We were given then a map and Emi brief us personally on direction. The briefing is essential since the waterfall is unmarked on map. Following the briefing, we cycled to the jetty where the strikingly cute banana boat was already waiting for us. We took a 20 minutes ride to opposite side of the bank. Upon reaching the opposite bank, the polite boatman and his assistant passed us our lunch (2 sandwiches) and a few bottles of water before we began our exciting journey.

The ride to the waterfall consisted of paved and unpaved road with a series of slopes. The scenery along the way were great and we only met one falang along the way. The villages along the way offered great photo opportunity too. The ride to the waterfall took us about 2 hours (my estimation: 12km) with many rest stops in between. We find the ride fairly manageable even though we are average cyclists. The only complaint I had was the dust at certain section of the route and I wished I had brought along a face mask.

When we finally arrived at the waterfall, we were wowed by the sight of the beautiful waterfall. This is no tad sad but it is beautiful in a rustic way. There were no tourist booths and we were amazed by the fact that we were the only visitors at such a beautiful Waterfall. Well, a group of 5 falangs did arrive much later. Other than this group, we did not see any other visitors the waterfall.

After spending over an hour at the waterfall, we return to a nearby village (about 1km away) to board our boat. The return boat ride took about 1 hour and we get to enjoy some Laos snacks and even white wine.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the tour coordination and would highly reccomend to those who wish to do something different.

Thank touristmouse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2012

We did a wonderful excursion on the yellow boat with Emi up the Nam Ou river to the village of Nong Khiaw. We were hoping for an experience that would remove us a little from the Luang Prabang tourist beat and this excursion exceeded our expectations in every way. The trip took most of the day but we were never restless or bored; the relaxed pace gave us the chance to really think about what we were seeing and how people along the river live and work. The photography opportunities are wonderful. We enjoyed getting to know other passengers and hearing stories about their travels in Southeast Asia.

The yellow boat is an authentic Mekong-type river vessel. It's not luxurious but that's not what we were after. The boat is in great shape, very well maintained. The motor and toilet facilities are new. There are plenty of life vests, again all new. There's plenty of room to store day packs or backpacks. Our captain was friendly and very experienced.

We'd recommend this to anybody interested in a safe way to explore more deeply the natural beauty and culture of Laos. Every part of the the trip is interesting and the landscape changes as you move up river. The late afternoon light falling across the mountains as the thatched roofs of Nong Khiaw come into view is a visual memory we won't soon forget.

1  Thank paulneal1961
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2012

Went on a great trip this week to see the boat races on the Meekong. It was an excellent trip with food and drink provided. We were out for over three hours and had a great view of the races and the many characters along the river. Any chance you can get to go on one of these trips is a not to miss experience in Luang Prabang.

Thank ArjanSiKaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 13 September 2012

What a beautiful ride at dusk on the Meekong river, complimented by a tradition Laos dinner consisting of fresh spring roles, dried mushrooms, and an assortment of nuts. The Temple stops were fascinating and the pictures of the sunset almost did it justice. Great trip all around, highly reccomended.

1  Thank Matthew G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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