The popular Kuang Si Falls, with numerous pools for swimming and dramatic falls at the end of wooded path, is a worthwhile day trip out of Luang Prabang. Even better is renting a motorbike and tackling the 30k trip on your own.
Motorbike to the Falls
Sometime after nine the motorbike we rented through the hotel for $20 showed up. This is more expensive than the local rate, around $15, but we though the convenience and surety of renting through the hotel was worth $5. The contract was all in Lao, no idea what it said.
Once you finally leave town, it sprawls much more than you think, it’s a pretty drive out to the falls. A few vistas of rice fields but mostly the track winds through the densely vegetated rural country side. There are a few wats and an Elephant camp to visit, but we went straight to the falls.
The route is well marked except that the first turn just outside of town is a bit hidden. Look for a large blue sign that includes Kuang Si Falls 26K.
The town at the entrance to the falls is lined with vendors. Park in the official lot where a nice guy will look after your bike. The lot was already full when we arrived around 10:30. It was even fuller when we left at just after noon.
The park is large so it can handle quite a few tourists.
Kuang Si Falls
Near the entrance to the falls you pass through a bear rescue center with black bears on display. They look content enough but I’m not a fan of animals in captivity.
Along the wooded path to the main attraction, there are a number of picturesque viewpoints with ample opportunity to practice your waterfall photography.
People swim and play in these lower pools but the water is way too cold for my desert blood.
The most dramatic falls are at the end of the path.
It’s difficult to get a stable picture if you are trying to use a tripod or monopod with people knocking the railing or bouncing on the wooden viewing platform.
The sun was already on part of the upper falls when we arrived. Earlier would be better but with cloud cover from time to time I could get some shots that were not blown out.
The falls are actually much taller than visible from the center of the platform. However, at the far end with the better view the spray from the falls would drench the camera equipment.
Lunch at Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem, down a side road in town, you can’t miss the sign, has a beautiful setting on a lower section of the falls. The water roars so loudly you can barely hear your companion. The food, both Asian and Western options available, is more expensive than at most places but the setting is worth it. Lunch still cost us less than $25.
We tried the papaya salad, fish tartare served with fries and the Lao soup, a coconut milk based broth with chicken and a bit of heat.
They put as many inedible ingredients in their soup as edible – wood chips, kefir leaves, lemon grass stalks, etc. Makes for a tasty soup, just watch what you are eating.
The drive back was just as pretty. Fabulous to be out on the bike on a gorgeous day with temperatures cooler in the country side compared to town. The road is in decent shape, but mind the frequent potholes.
October 30, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.