I love a good waterfall, and the Kuang Si Falls just outside Luang Prabang in Laos is about as good as it gets.
Seeing photos on Pinterest and other travel blogs of the Kuang Si Falls was one of my main inspirations for visiting Luang Prabang, so visiting the waterfalls was obviously a priority for our visit. But no matter how many photos you see on the internet and how many people tell you how wonderful it is, nothing prepares you for the breathtaking natural beauty of this place.
The Kuang Si Falls are located around 30km outside of Luang Prabang. This takes around 45 bumpy minutes in the back of a tuk tuk – much to the delight of my kids, who think this is the height of adventure.
As we were staying a little out of town, we booked our tuk tuk through our hotel reception and it cost us around $30 USD, but you can just go and haggle with the multitude of tuk tuk drivers on the main street in town, and it should cost you around $25. For this price, your driver will wait for you outside the falls, and bring you back to town when you are ready (pay when you get back to town of course).
From the entrance gate (entrance costs 20,000 kip or $2.50 USD), a short walk first brings you to the Tat Kuang Si Rescue Centre. Run by Free the Bears Fund, the Rescue Centre looks after 23 Moon Bears, or Asiatic Black Bears, who have been rescued by the Laos government from illegal poaching and trading.
We arrived at the Rescue Centre at around 11.30am. We had planned to arrive earlier, as everyone had warned us that the crowds swarm in during the afternoons – but as is always the case when you travel with kids, we were running late. But as it happens, 11.30am turned out to be the ideal time to arrive, as it was feeding time!
We watched as the bear keepers hid food under tyres and inside logs, before the cute fluffy bears appeared and climbed up onto wooden platforms, swung in hammocks and frolicked around their playground. The kids were transfixed, and would happily have spent another hour watching them.
Note that Free the Bears Fund doesn’t receive any of the entrance fee from ticket sales, so remember to leave a donation or buy a “Free the Bears” t-shirt before you leave.
Just round the corner from the Rescue Centre you first notice the water trickling over the white limestone rocks. And from here the waterfall grows as you ascend the hill, the cascading water forming layer upon layer of aquamarine pools.
Unfortunately it was too cold for swimming when we visited (December), but on a hot day I can think of nothing better than splashing around in the turquoise waters. There’s even a rope swing for the really adventurous! There are changing facilities, and even a café overlooking the waterfall to recharge after swimming.
Now as enchanted as I was by the cascading water flowing downstream, nothing prepared me for the staggering beauty of the main fall. 60 metres of gushing water, surrounded by green tropical jungle. Incredible.
I think the photos speak for themselves.
Don’t forget your camera!
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