I did: Full Day Kuang Si Waterfalls, Hmong Village Afternoon: Mekong Sunset Cruise (Downstream), Pak Ou Caves, Whisky Village Tour.
The guide (named Thin), van driver, boat captain, and the van itself were all great! Great value for money!
My friend and I chose the full day tour that started with the waterfalls, which meant they weren’t as busy with tourists as they apparently get later in the day. Everyone on our tour agreed we were happy we chose this option. And it also meant we enjoyed the sun set while on our boat cruise back from the caves/ whiskey village.
Kuang Si Waterfalls: They were beautiful! Totally worth it. My friend and I went as part of a group, so we were picked up from our hotel in an air conditioned van. I saw people driving the long (under construction) road in tuk tuks and on motorcycles- and I wouldn’t want to do that myself. None of our group swam as the water was cold. Pro tip: we walked up to paved road to the top of the falls, beating most other people to the top, since the route was direct. So we had a few minutes of the place to ourselves- which was awesome. Then we took the longer main route on the way back down. There is a bear rescue on site as well. I was opposed to the idea of the bears being in a zoo-like environment for tourists to see before going (I don’t even like regular zoos for the same reason).... and I’m still a bit conflicted after having seen it. But on the other hand, they were saved from a much worse fate....
Hmong Village: It was nice to learn a bit about the locals. The village felt like it might be a bit of a tourist trap, but... I’m not really sure about the details (i.e. if the money goes to supporting the people of the community). The baby girls were wearing makeup, which bothered me... but then maybe I’m judging from an uniformed perspective.
Unmentioned stop to water buffalo icecream/ cheese shop: The whole van full of people enjoyed this!
Lunch: The lunch place was beautiful! Stunning location and there were elephants wandering by the river. There were also elephant rides- using wooden baskets- which I am opposed to. There were no chains on any of the elephants- which was good. And they seemed to have free roam, which was good. Elephant sanctuaries are my charity of choice - so I’m very picky about elephant treatment. Please don’t ride them.
Pak Ou Caves: We took the boat to the caves. They were nice. There are lots of stairs! There are two options: one cave has less stairs, so I took that option since I have knee problems. My friend went up to the cave that had more stairs. She loved it. I’ve seen caves like this before, but it was her first time.
Whiskey Village: Quick stop to a local whiskey village. Nice to learn a bit about how they make it, and taste it.
Sunset on the boat: The views were lovely! And coming back along the river was great... we were definitely all tired by this point. It was a long but beautiful day.