We enjoyed a few amazing days taking in the laid back vibe of Luang Prabang. It is a lovely place to wander the markets, cruise around on bicycles, or just relax in the surprisingly modern and trendy restaurants and cafes. But the real highlight of our stay in Luang Prabang was a visit to Kouang Si Falls.
All the tuk-tuk drivers in town fight for your business to take you out to these falls. We were lucky that we were able to wrestle up a group of people which made it much less expensive, and lot more fun (yep, friends from the slow boat). After the negotiation was settled and we’d piled into our snug transport, we had 30+ minutes of windy, bumpy roads to get out to the falls. When we arrived, hot and sweaty from the cramped conditions and the general steaminess of the country, hanging out by water sounded like a pretty fantastic idea.
On the short walk through the woods to get to the falls, we were greeted by the completely unexpected opportunity to see dozens of bears living in a protected (and fenced) area of the forest. I believe they were rescued bears and though they looked like our black bears, they were in fact Asian black bears! Regardless, they were a quite a surprise that we very much enjoyed.
So just when we thought it couldn’t get any better than randomly seeing bears on our hike in, we arrived at the first set of falls. Now I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls in my life, but there aren’t too many that can match Kouang Si for water color. These falls were the most amazing blue-green and the best part is, they are perfect and inviting for swimming. Within minutes we had left our hot, sweaty selves behind and plunged into the beautiful turquoise blue. If swimming and floating was too boring, there were the options of rope swings and cliffs to dive off of.
From where we swam, it was just a short walk up to the source of the falls – an incredibly tall and impressive main fall. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can hike to the top of that as well but luckily Ted (who likes to climb to the top of everything) had just broken his flip-flops on the mini-walk to the source of the falls, so I got out of a longer excursion that day.
As the afternoon clouds rolled in and rain seemed evident, we managed to pull ourselves away from the amazing oasis, said goodbye to the bears, and piled into our rickshaw back to town. It was a pretty fantastic day.