I’m a sucker for waterfalls, perhaps for one reason: waterfalls imply “elevation.” A born & bred Floridian (where our highest point is 345 feet high—and that hill is practically in Georgia), waterfalls evoke images of hills, mountains, forests and running streams. I’ll usually jump at any chance to see a waterfall during our adventures, and it freaks me out to think we almost missed Kuang Si waterfalls, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
Our time in Luang Prabang, Laos was spent catching up on work; cold A/C and quick wifi, along with being a little travel weary after 9 months of being on the go non-stop, made us a bit hesitant to schedule any day trips. However, our amazing host Eric at View Khem Khong Guesthouse insisted we scope it out on our last day. He arranged a van to take us there at 8:30 AM which was a good call on his part. The earlier the better, both heat and crowd-wise, and it’s a scenic 45 minute journey that is much more comfortable in a proper vehicle rather than a tuk-tuk.
When you arrive, you’ll walk through a short bit of forest which leads you past a fabulous bear rescue center where you can read the individual bear’s stories and see them hang out in their very posh ‘enclosure.’ Walk just a bit further and you’ll come across the first pool. You will most likely be temped to stop and jump in right there and then, but it somehow keeps getting better! Keep heading up and you’ll pass the beautiful travertine pools filled with cool aqua water and wild “doctor fish” that will nibble on some dead skin if you choose to take a dip. These are the same fish found in street-side spas all around Asia, and I can pretty much guarantee that these pools are the most hygienic place to let fish gnaw on you a bit! (For the record, it’s not even remotely painful, it’s just a bit shocking at first. Remember, people pay to have this done at “fish spas” in big cities!)
Keep walking up and you’ll come to the big waterfall with a 200′ cascade. We visited in June so the water levels were relatively low, but it was still a stunning sight! We did not venture to climb up the waterfalls, instead we wandered around taking pictures, trying to pick our jaws up off the ground at the beauty of this area.
We returned to the 2nd lowest pool, which resembled a Las Vegas pool more than a random swimming hole in the woods. While it was a bit chilly at first (if BJ can get in, ANYONE can get in!), the reward is huge. And while BJ is adverse to cold water (and still got in), I have a very hard time with any slimy rocks or murky water. The pools were almost 100% clear and the bottom was a combination of non-slimy rocks and coarse sand—perfect! Plus, I got a huge kick out of the hungry fish (who were the only ones on Earth that truly appreciated my unkempt, cracked, flip-flop heels).
So, if you’re on the fence about Kuang Si waterfalls while you’re in Luang Prabang, don’t be. In fact, we met many folks who visited two, three, even four times during their stay in the city. If it hadn’t been our last day, I surely would have made a repeat visit. There are restaurants all around the area, in case you didn’t pack a lunch and you want to make a day of it.
Click through to see a selection of the pictures I took that day (I assumed you didn’t need to see all 200!) If you click on one picture, you’ll enter the gallery which you can then easily click through.