A trip to Luang Prabang is not complete (it seems…and I would have to agree) without taking the opportunity to visit Kuang Si Waterfalls. 29 km south of Luang Prabang sits the beautiful tiered falls and, great for the kids, home to the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre.
Our day started with a 45 minute tuk-tuk ride to the falls, passing through the Lao countryside and seeing some amazing scenes along the way. It was a bumpy ride and Josh and I were both anxiously trying not to get travel sick, but we made it, whilst passing the time with mental arithmetic problems – that was maths class done for the day!
We arrived at the falls, which cost 20,000 Laotian kip per person to enter. It might sound a lot, but with the current UK sterling exchange rate it’s only £1.80, a ridiculously small amount for what you get.
Let me tell you now, Kuang Si falls are absolutely stunning. They really do not disappoint!
As you arrive at the park the indications are good and you are led through the bear sanctuary. The boys were so excited about seeing the rescued bears and learning all about them, that we had to remind them after a while that we were also there to see the waterfalls. You can read more about the bears here…
After the bear sanctuary, there are well-marked trails that lead up the side of the waterfalls. The falls form tiered pools, the lower ones are all swimmable and we were really excited about being able to swim in the natural pools, which offer the added bonus of being able to cool off from the intense Lao heat.
We got to the lower pool and no-one was swimming. We thought maybe we’d misunderstood and you couldn’t swim there…panic! We carried on up to the next tier where we thankfully saw a few people taking a paddle, and it wasn’t crowded by any stretch of the imagination.
At this point we decided we would head up the falls to the higher end and then work our way back, taking a dip in each pool as we passed by. What can I say, it was simply spectacular.
When we got to the area directly at the front of the foot of the falls, where we thought that we couldn’t go any further, we saw that there seemed to be a path on the other side of the viewing bridge. There weren’t many people (and by that I mean any!) taking it, but we thought what the hell and off we went.
We were so glad that we did. After a very hot, sweaty, jungly walk up the path to we knew not where, the ground flattened and opened up to the most beautiful river and natural pool that formed the top of the waterfall…and apart from 2 park staff who were there to take you on a short boat trip up the river should you want to, we had the pool all to ourselves! For a short while at least.
It was AMAZING. We sat at the side just looking at each other and randomly saying wow every few seconds. We couldn’t believe we were sitting in the middle of the jungle swimming in a turquoise coloured, natural river pool. What an experience. What an experience for our kids! It was just out of this world. Add to this the fact that the fish would come along and nibble at your feet, giving you a free personal foot spa, and the whole experience was somewhat surreal.
After swimming and taking photos for forty-five minutes, we reluctantly started to head back down to the lower section. We wanted to make sure we had time to swim at all the other tiers as we went and, aware that our tuk-tuk driver was patiently waiting for us just outside the park, we didn’t want to outstay our welcome.
So, that’s exactly what we did. We ambled down and we swam in the beautiful turquoise waters, ticking off the tiers one by one, until it was time for us to leave. Back through the bear sanctuary we went, reluctantly leaving the extraordinary Kuang Si waterfalls behind us and on to more adventures…