Like Vientiane, we did not leave ourselves with much time to explore in Luang Prabang. Our bus arrived late on the first night there, so we basically had time to eat dinner and grab a glass of wine before the strict 11:30pm curfew. The next day we decided to rent a bike and drive to Kuang Si Falls. If you don’t have a lot of time in town, this is the #1 thing you must do in Luang Prabang.
We started our day with a lovely brunch at a nearby cafe. I mentioned in last week’s post how delicious the bread is in Laos, and their breakfasts are full of fresh baked baguettes and rolls. After brunch we decided the 1 thing we wanted to do most in Luang Prabang was visit waterfalls.
You can go with a group on a bus or take a songtaew, but I think the best way to get there is to rent a motorbike and drive ourselves. The rental guy told us about the various waterfalls in the area and how to get there.
Kuang Si Falls was one of the furthest out of the 3 falls we were contemplating visiting, so the plan was to start at Kuang Si and then stop at the other waterfalls on the way back to town, but we never made it to any of the other falls. Kuang Si Falls was so incredible we decided to stay there all day.
We ended up spending our whole day there and absolutely loved it!
Free the bears Asean bear rescue
Before we even arrived in Luang Prabang, I had been looking at the Free the Bears organization. I recently worked with sun bears at the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center and was excited to check out another rescue center. Sadly I didn’t have the time or the money to sign up for another volunteer placement, but I knew I could still visit a center.
Well there just happens to be one at Kuang Si Falls!
Free the Bears started back in the early 90s as a petition and now has grown to an actual sanctuary filled with different species of asean bears from bile farms and tourist attractions. Free the Bears has multiple programs in Laos and Cambodia.
Even though the bears aren’t in the wild like they should be, it’s nice to see them in a better environment than they were. The bears I worked with at Tasikoki would never be returned to the wild either, but they were at least well taken care of by people who actually care about their wellbeing.
So many levels and pools to swim in at Kuang Si Falls
After walking around the bear enclosure, we continued on our way to the falls, however, we had a run in with the local children on the way. 3 little boys probably 6 or 7 years old were hanging out on a small bridge playing karate with each other. I guess they thought Alan and I should be included because once I stepped on the bridge, one of the boys started lightly punching me in the stomach and yelling “ya ya ya!” All I could do through my laughing was yell “Hey!” and try to block his punches.
They got Alan too as he passed by.
We made it to the bottom pool area, and absolutely fell in love. The limestone build up in the area turns the water this beautiful aqua color. It’s like something out of a movie!
I stupidly forgot my bathing suit at home, but that didn’t stop me. Yoga pants and a sports bra would have to do. Alan is a bit of a baby when it comes to cold water, so he chose to step in and then step right back out.
The water was not that cold. When I say Alan is a baby, I mean like a big baby when it comes to water temp. I thought the water felt great.
It was also filled with dozens of little fish that wanted to nibble on your hands and feet. I had experienced a wild fish “spa” in the rivers of Peru and don’t mind how much it tickles. They get your feet so smooth, and they are wild, so none of the abusive practices of actual fish spas.
I swam around for a while. We climbed on some of the rocks around the falls, and then decided to walk further up to what we thought would be the main part of the falls. We were pleasantly surprised when the pools kept coming.
We would stop, and I would swim in the different areas. It seems like each level we walked up the falls got more and more beautiful.
The reason why visiting Kuang Si Falls is the #1 thing you must do in Luang Prabang
Finally we reached the main level of Kuang Si Falls, and let me tell you……it is stunning!
I honestly think Kuang Si Falls might be the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen, and I have seen a good number of waterfalls in my lifetime.
The path up the falls didn’t stop there. We decided to continue on and make our way to the top of the falls. Unfortunately we chose the more treacherous of the 2 routes to the top. To the right of the falls, there is a foot path that leads up a pretty steep slope with some of it having been eroded away.
We made it though!
All is calm at the top of the falls
Considering how much water is running though the falls, the top is surprisingly calm . We found a large tree that extended out over the top and sat back and watched the water fall below us.
I noticed some tourists walking around the top in dress shoes and figured there was no way they hiked up the same route we did. That’s when we found the steps leading all the way back down to the lower walking path.
If you visit Kuang Si Falls, take the path to the left of the main falls. The steps are a little slippery, but it’s way better than hiking up the dirt path.
We had spent quite a few hours of our day at Kuang Si Falls, so we decided to make our way back to Luang Prabang. The drive back through rural Laos is beautiful especially at dusk.
That evening was our last one in Laos, so we decided to enjoy our last authentic Laos dinner and take in what we could of that amazing little town. I wish we had more time in Luang Prabang. I fell in love with it immediately, and cannot wait to go back!
Where have you seen your most beautiful waterfall?