Kuang Si Waterfalls
Kuangsi Waterfall Park is located at a short distance from Luang Prabang in northern Laos. A 20 minute drive by minivan or on scooter will get you there. Kuang Si waterfalls is actually a big park and forest, including a bear rescue center. The source of the Kuang Si waterfall is a spring some 45 minutes from the top of the fall. After coming down full force and passing several levels, it becomes the Nam Si river and eventually joins the Mekong river. Before it does that, several villages make use of the water from the Nam Si river.
There is a local legend that goes as follows: The Kuang Si was formed when a wise old man revealed the Nam Si river by digging deep in the earth. After the waters came to Kuang Si, a golden deer made its home under a big rock there. The sound of the water falling on that rock created an echo that drew people to the waterfall from as far as China. Tat Kuang Si got its name from this legend, Tat meaning waterfall, Kuang meaning deer and Si meaning Dig.
Animals & Insects
The Kuang Si forest is home to many animals like squirrels, loris, bamboo rats, leopards, boars and even bears. They live more far in the jungle parts of Kuang Si. There is also not a shortage of insects. Many types of butterflies, spiders, dragonflies, orb-weavers, bees, wasps, termites, ants and even camouflaged stick insects, whatever that may be.
The Kuang Si waterfalls exist of several levels. Once you have come through the main gate and passed the bear rescue center, you will soon reach level one, the lowest level of the waterfalls. People can swim there. When you just follow the walking paths, you soon reach level two, three and four. At level two and three swimming is allowed too, but at the last level before the main fall it’s prohibited to swim. All those levels are of great beauty. The water comes full force from all corners and directions, following its way over huge rocks and around trees.
When coming at the highest level, you will see a characteristic bridge, most probably full of tourists taking pictures. When you look up at where those huge amounts of water actually come from, you just see a small source, but you realize that it must be much more than it looks like. It comes down from two ways and each of those two ways split several times, which makes it a wider fall without taking away any of the force. You get water over you as being sprayed when you are on the bridge, or just next to the bridge, because of the force of the waterfall that plunges down. It’s absolutely stunning, wonderful and impressive without doubt.
Hike or restaurant
There is a possibility to pass the bridge and walk upstairs into some forest to reach the top of the Kuang Si waterfall, although you won’t find the spring which is the water source of the falls. It’s not that easy and clear either, as some people come down saying that you end up in jungle, seeing nothing, while other people come down with different stories.
Give it a try when you’re in good shape, because it’s a real hike. You won’t find a swimming place up on the top. You can always choose to take a seat in the restaurant around level three. There’s supposed to be wifi (happens that it hardly works) and you can eat and drink.
Shopping and getting there
Outside of the main entrance gate are a lot of local restaurants, places to sit and drink and souvenir shops. Getting to Kuang Si is possible by agency or on a rented motorbike/scooter. The price for rent is 110k ($14) Laotian kip per day, just the rent, not the entry ticket. This seems like an adventurous way for the backpackers, surely more free as you have plenty of time to stay in the park. However, the cheaper way is by agency, where you pay around 55k Laotian kip for a half day to the falls, which means leave in Luang Prabang at 1.30 pm by minivan and be back around 5.30 pm. This comes down to 2 hrs in the park at the falls. The 20k kip entry price is included.
Kuang Si falls definitely in the category must see!