Kuang Si Falls…. Outrageously Beautiful!
Kuang Si Waterfall is simply stunning. The turquoise water is at centerstage and when you first see it, it momentarily blinds you to anything else. It is blue! Really blue, not brown, not clear… but blue. I don’t know what it is, but swimming in blue water somehow makes the experience all the more special. It’s true! You don’t see the advertising companies showing you photos of the windy overcast days on the Great Barrier Reef… but believe me they happen!
Once my brain was able to cope with the reality of the blue water (the photos by Trip Advisor reviewers had not been photoshopped! Wow!) my brain then began to take in more of our surroundings. We were enwreathed by tropical forest and the blue water was cascading down terrace-like limestone structures. It was so perfect, it looked almost man-made. In one word? Magical!
We just wanted to jump straight into this amazingly blue water, but first we had to do a walk, explore our surroundings and see a little more of this beautiful place. At the base of the main waterfall we were presented with a choice. The track to the left or the track to the right. We chose left for no particular reason and began our ascent up some stairs. The stairs soon gave way to compacted dirt steps, which eventually led to a path, steep in places, through the forest with the occasional rock or tree root to scramble over.
When we reached the top of the path, we were greeted by a sign that pointed to the left and indicated the source of the spring and a cave. I started heading that way. Dwayne dug his heals in and demanded a swim before we walked any further. So we instead turned right and began weaving our way along a narrow path. I was determine to see the spring and was not happy that Dwayne was taking me in the opposite direction. My thoughts were along the lines of… if he has had enough now, he is really not going to want to back track to the sign and then walk the 3 or 4kms to the spring! Damn him!
Dwayne led and I followed, and then he stumbled upon a little oasis. He stripped of his shirt and plunged into the inviting water. I didn’t. I didn’t want Dwayne to get too comfortable and forget I wanted to see the spring and the cave. Furthermore, he had little fish nibbling on him. No, I would wait until we went back down to the lower pools.
At this spot, at the top of the falls, we met Laura. Laura is a fellow Aussie and while we were chatting we were approached and asked if we wanted a trip up the river on a bamboo raft. We, all three, agreed and clamoured aboard the little raft, which, embarrassingly, did sink a bit when I got on! Dwayne was hoping it would take him to the source of the spring, thereby eliminating the need to walk. It was not to be. For a pittance we were to paddle up river until we could go no longer. All in all, the trip took about 15 minutes return. It was a relaxing little journey, throughout which we chatted with Laura who had left her debilitated husband at the base of the falls. The boatman then showed us to a spot from which we could peer over the top of the falls and see the tiered terraces which led to the drop.
Dwayne felt refreshed and in true Trippin’ Turpin fashion he soldiered on. Laura decided she would like to see the spring and cave so joined us. We found ourself walking along a narrow track that soon led us to a wide dirt road.
We arrived at the base of a track leading to a cave, where we paid 10,000 kip each for entry to the cave and the use of a torch. We did not know what to expect, as we knew nothing about this cave, and we were pleasantly surprised to find a rather large cave. As the three of us crept through the cave we were amazed to have this place all to ourselves.
The mesmerising effect of the blue water terraces… not many can forge on when they beckon; we are glad we did though, because the cave was well worth a visit. It’s not the biggest cave, or the nicest cave, or the most interesting cave we have seen. But it is big. It goes deep enough that when you turn off your torches, as we did, you can not see any light…. and we didn’t even go to the end…. and the best thing for us? No one else around. Explore to your hearts content!
It was at this stage, that Laura realised her husband might be missing her, and/or worried that she had been go for so long. Laura headed back to the waterfall and Dwayne and I went to look at the source of the spring.
Walking back to the base of the falls we worked up a sweat. Bedecked in appropriate swimwear we plunged into the blue, refreshing water. Ah yeah…. cold. Just great!
We found Laura and her husband Brett enjoying the water. It turns out he was chatting with fellow travellers too much to notice she had been gone so long! Can I say here… typical bloody man?
Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
There is more to visiting Kuang Si than just waterfall, spring and cave. On the way to the waterfall you will pass through the bear sanctuary. All the bears in this sanctuary have been rescued from bile farms and other ghastly circumstances! It costs you nothing extra to watch these beautiful bears sleep or play in their enclosures. There are several platform from which you can get some great views of them and, the best part is, you can see them on the way in and again on the way out! We didn’t tire of watching these noble beasts.
Verdict: Great value for money! Lovely scenery, refreshing water, walking tracks and bears! A MUST-DO!
Travel notes (June 2016)
LAK – Laotian Kip written as ₭
Getting there – The Kuang Si Waterfall is located 29km south of Luang Prabang. We hired a scooter from a friend. You can hire scooters locally. They are a more expensive than the other Asian countries we have visited… around ₭120000 (AUD $20.00) There are organised tours that go to the waterfall. Other options are to hire a tuk tuk for half a day or I think there is a mini-bus which departs daily, ask your accommodation they should be able to give you the low-down.
Cost – Park entrance is ₭20000 (AUD $3.50). Bamboo raft at top of falls ₭10000 (AUD $1.60). Entrance to cave and torch hire ₭10000. Parking for scooter was ₭2000 (AUD $0.30)
Park facilities – Changing huts to change into swimwear. Several natural pools to swim in. Picnic tables, bring your own picnic. Rubbish bins and recycle bins. Ample shade. Viewing platforms to watch bears.
Food – Before the entrance to the park there is a section of small restaurants and cafes. We had a delicious lunch of barbecued fish, papaya salad and coconut shakes. Very good.
Getting there – we arrived in Luang Prabang on a slow-boat from Huay Xai. Read more about that awesome trip here!
Soutikone 2 Guesthouse
Cost – ₭100000 (AUD $16.50/night)
Pros – A/C, fan, tea and coffee available in foyer, laundry available ₭10000/kilo.
Cons – TV was crap and wifi slow. Bathroom drain was a bit smelly. Room was not serviced i.e. cleaned.
Our verdict – for it was ok. But Luang Prabang isn’t the cheapest of places to stay – not sure you can do better for the price.
For Luang Prabang accommodation type, availability and price visit Booking.com!
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