Since this was at the tail-end of my trip and I didn't have a lot of money left, I opted for the half-day elephant riding program. I met other tourists who were in pairs and I have to say, I got my money's worth when it came to riding the elephant. Since I was by myself, I had an elephant all to myself and got to ride him bareback for almost 45 minutes. In contrast, those who availed of the package in pairs, while paying the same amount as I did, had to share an elephant so they took turns riding him bareback.
That said, this was a wonderful way to spend time with a beautiful, large but gentle creature. After the one-hour ride (you have the option of staying on the elephant seat or getting up close and personal by riding bareback on his neck, right behind his ears), I got to spend around thirty minutes petting him and feeding him bananas. It was quite an experience.
The food was pretty decent and the trip to the waterfall was fun as well. Since it had rained a few days before our trip to the waterfall, the water was gushing pretty hard so we got to make the most of the waterfalls.
Overall, this was one of the highlights of my trip in Laos. It might be a pricey attraction but so long as most of the money goes to the rehabilitation of these gentle giants, I think that's money well spent.
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