Affected by seasonal monsoon rains and dramatic elevation changes, the Southeast Asian country of Laos is home to an abundance of picturesque waterfalls. And topping this list are the majestic Kuang Si Falls, whose main waterfall, measuring at a height of 60 metres (200 ft), along with its lower cascading tiers, natural swimming pools and vibrant turquoise waters draw countless visitors annually from nearby Luang Prabang.
Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
Upon entering the park, visitors will first stroll through the Bear Rescue Centre, a non-profit organization run by volunteers. This sanctuary is home to roughly 25 rescued Asian black bears formerly kept in captivity in order to harvest their bile – an ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicines. Most of the bears will be sleeping inside their houses, but if visitors are lucky they will be able to catch an up-close-and-personal glimpse of these furry beasts and their amusing antics.
Ascending Kuang Si
Following the path past the bear shelter leads to the first natural swimming pool with shallow waters and fewer swimmers. Continuing along the path, the cascading falls become more spectacular and each successive pool more crowded with visitors. Before reaching the top, escape the heat with a refreshing dip or take some photos of the impressive scenery with its vivid blue waters and lush greenery.
The journey uphill culminates with Kuang Si’s main attraction, the breathtaking 60-metre high cascading waterfall. A wooden bridge runs across the water near the base of the falls for optimal views. Though swimming is not allowed here due to the strong currents, active and adventurous visitors can opt to ascend to the top of this waterfall and catch an epic bird’s-eye view of the verdant, natural landscapes below.
Getting to Kuang Si Falls
Located just a short 30 km (18 mi) outside of the cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Falls is one of the city’s most popular day-trip destinations. To get there, travellers have several options to choose from: hop onto a Songtaew (shared tuk-tuk) from town, rent a motorbike or hire a private van.
Alternatively, guests on Heritage Line’s 7- and 9-night Upper Mekong River cruises from Huay Xai to Vientiane (or vice versa) have an opportunity to marvel at Kuang Si Falls in addition to visiting the nearby Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm. This unhurried journey aboard the luxurious Heritage Line Anouvong offers a blissful voyage through the pristine Laotian countryside, its remote local communities and a full, guided exploration of Luang Prabang.
Photo source (all images): Daniel Ta