Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kuang Si Waterfall

Kuang Si Falls, is by far the most gorgeous waterfall we've ever seen. You must go! From Luang Prabang, you can get a private tuk tuk there for 200,000 kip (or share one with others), but we decided to go with a tour agency that drove us there by a minivan for 50,000 each (11:30 am - 3:30 pm or 1:30 - 5:30 pm so 2 hours at the park — just enough time).

We got picked up at 11:30 am in a minivan and it took less than an hour through some windy roads, passing a few villages and rice paddies. Beautiful drive.

I had no idea there were so many waterfalls here — pools of amazing light turquoise water just continued on and on until we reached the main fall. For those who don't want to do any trekking, the main big waterfall is just a 5-minute walk front the main ticket gate, where you pay 20,000 kip to get in.
However, there's a trekking trail you can take to avoid the crowds and still reach the main big waterfall. Not too difficult. There's a bridge where you can take impressive photos of the falls.
After passing the impressive main fall, you can keep on going up. It's a more steep mud path with very few people. We had baguettes we packed for lunch here beside the waterfall above the main falls. You can go up even more (even steeper), but we were told that the upper levels weren't much more impressive.
The bottom pools are places where you can swim. There are some basic changing rooms there. The water is a little cold, but not too bad once you get in. The bottom of the pools could be a little slimy and slippery, with some sharp rocks, so watch your step. It's mostly pretty shallow with some deep pockets. We saw people diving into the lower pools so I presume those are deeper.

Near the entrance/exit, there is a bear rescue center with lots of bears playing in this bear playground park, complete with bear hammocks. You can get really close to the bears.
2 hours later at 2:30 pm, we drove back in the minivan. It was just enough time to see the falls, do a bit of hiking, take a dip in the pool, and take a look at the bears.

Half way, the driver suddenly pulled over at a village selling handicrafts. Upon seeing foreigners entering, children rushed to put on their "traditonal headdresses" and sad faces while repeatedly muttering a drawn out "five-thou-sand" and pushing embroidered bracelets towards you. Not sure how I felt about it.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip. If there weren't people there, it would probably be what heaven looks like — seemingly endless light turquoise pools and falls with exotic flowers and plants! Can't wait to journey back to this incredible place again!
Next time, we would probably try to spend more time there, perhaps by cycling there. The roads are pretty well paved although on the way there, it's all uphill so it might be a bit challenging!