Exploring Waterfalls & Getting Wet in Laos

Written by: Stephen Ferdinando

An Amazing Experience Visiting Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang

Over the past ten years Laos has grown into a tourism hotspot – an essential stop for anyone travelling through South East Asia. And while Laos lacks the beaches of Vietnam and Thailand, the Mekong River is more than enough to draw the water-loving visitor in. Tubing in Vang Vieng took the travelling community by storm, but it’s deep in the jungles of Luang Prabang where you can really get your feet wet.

Luang Prabang is located roughly 300km north of the Laotian capital Vientiane. But unlike Vientiane, which is stark and business like, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Until the 1975 communist takeover, it was the royal capital and seat of government in Laos. Nowadays Luang Prabang, which actually holds around 50,000 Laotian citizens, feels like a sleepy village fresh from the pages of an explores’ memoirs. It’s relaxed, charming, and an oasis in the chaos of modern day South East Asia.

Getting wet in Laos

The city’s heart is located on the peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong River. It’s this central focus on water that runs throughout Luang Prabang. The motif can be seen everywhere, from the fresh fish being sold on the night markets to the sculptures and statues dotted around the indulgent Buddhist temples. You may be able to soar through the river on a truck’s inner tube in Vang Vieng, a six hour bus journey south, but here you can sit on the banks and really appreciate the water for what it is – the life line of Laos and South East Asia at large.

Arriving at Kuang Si waterfalls

Luang Prabang’s affiliation with the wet doesn’t stop there. A short bus journey will take you to Kuang Si Falls. Here, cascades weave in and out of the jungle around you. For a relatively small admission fee that pays to maintain the park, visitors are free to wander around the sacred terrain. The trees umbrella overhead and lock the humidity into the woodland like an urban city of high-rise buildings. The natural pools are kept clear and fresh and are open for all to swim in. Even though the dirt paths and small wooden bridges give a rustic, rural feel (not to mention the tiny village that resides just outside the falls), Kuang Si still has a touch of the South East Asian magic that draws us all towards the continent. Rope swings and animal enclosures are never far, nor the opportunity to pick up a trinket or two, and one can spend all day bathing in these tranquil pools.

A temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

But it’s the climb to the top of fall itself that offers the most reward. The wall may be steep, and the humidity may make it almost impossible, but get past the mud and endure your flip-flops slipping from underneath and you’ll make it to the top. The views offer a site of the jungle that you’ve come to know as well as your own garden and the waterfall pool is the purest of all. Hours dropped by before we’d even realised.

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