After you have toured the temples of the royal city of Luang Prabang then the next must see spot is just a few km from the town. Heading up to the stunning milky turquoise waters of Kuang Si Waterfall we decided to do it a little different and instead rode a bike up the mountainous roads and continued on foot afterwards along jungle lined tracks before finishing in a tiny tribal village making the most of this stunning region of Laos.
Waking up early and having some Laos coffee before riding to the Kuang Si Waterfall
With a tiring ride ahead of us we woke up early and met our guide for the day. He took us around the morning markets to get some well needed supplies such as fresh jackfruit, sweet rice balls and some snacks for later on.
Before we headed to the old docks along the Mekong for some traditional Laotian coffee and snacks for an energy boost before the steep ride! Watching the town come to life around us was beautiful and the coffee was well needed after the early wake up call! The ride to Kuang Si Waterfall would be around 30km on some steep terrain, so preparation was needed!
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Taking the long and steep road up to the Kuang Si Waterfall over some steep terrain!
The road up to the waterfalls is around 30km long, through steep sections of riding and winding roads that pass temples, villages and great viewpoint. Taking the more challenging route up was an exhausting choice given the beating sun, but also one which was the most rewarding.
Pausing for a breather in a small village as others sped passed was a much more peaceful way to take in the surroundings as well as interacting with some freindly locals who offered us water and snacks! Kuang Si Waterfall was now well and truly in our sights, just another 4km away… however it was all up hill!
Exploring the stunning Kuang Si Waterfall and cooling off in the pools!
Reaching the Kuang Si Waterfall after a couple of punishing hours on the bikes was such a relief, almost overcome by the heat all we wanted to do was to jump straight into the beautiful waters! Although, upon arriving at the falls we were immediately struck by the beauty of the place, the serene setting in which the turquoise waters formed natural pools and falls, it was an enchanting sight to say the least.
At this point we had almost forgotten just how hot and sweaty we had become after the cooler air and shade from the cover of the Kuang Si Waterfall. The azure multi tiered wonder making the effort more than worth it! Cascading platforms surrounded by lush green jungles made way for the spectacular 50m main waterfall that stood powerfully carved into the stunning landscape creating a breathtakingly tropical scene.
Ok, once we were done gawking at this most beautiful sight we finally decided to take a cooling dip, and that it was. The shade provided by the trees to the water as it makes its way down from the higher peaks above protects it from the suns rays. The water here couldn’t be any more refreshing offered a great contrast to the heat we had endured on the way up. Living in the water are several “doctor fish” who enjoy nothing more than nibbling on your dead skin… make sure to keep moving if you want to avoid being eaten! Personally I find the sensation a bit freaky!
Heading on up for a long hike through the jungle
Most people when they visit the falls stick to the bottom where the main pools occur, a few brave the steep and slippy track up to the top to discover the “hidden swimming pools” that flow down over the impressive 50m drop below.
Most never continue along the steep and dusty paths that lead off into the dense jungle, after a while you begin to notice only those who you do meet along the way are local tribesmen, often with guns over their shoulders, heading off to hunt for their food. The jungle becomes very humid and sticky the more we pressed on, several hours of intense hiking lay ahead of us as we stopped a the “Blue Lagoon” a crystal clear azure hued pool that feeds the falls, it would be our last chance for real refreshment!
Trekking along the dusty paths we came across many huge orb weaver spiders and funnel webs, a bright green snake that had unfortunately seen better days and well camouflaged stick insects, this was a true jungle trek! Our guide explained to us the simple way of life for the people that called this harsh, rugged and mountainous landscape home. We soon realised just how inaccessible this place would be without his expert knowledge and why we were walking along a trek that had seen only a few western footprints in the past.
Finishing off in a remote tribal village way off the beaten track!
After a 10km uphill hike through dense forest the ground finally flattened off to reveal a stunning hidden mountain scape and a singular path leading to a tiny village. Passing rubber plantations and farms we were warmly greeted on the outskirts of the village by some children playing gleefully in the fields without a care in the world.
Here life is basic but people live as a strong community. As we entered the bamboo village many people came out to say “Sabaidee” and wave with giggles, not many western faces pass through here and despite only being an hour and a half away from Luang Prabang along a bumpy dirt road they appear cut off from the modern world, living the same life as their ancestors have for thousands of years.
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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Grasshopper tours. As always, all opinions are our own!