Kuangxi waterfall: a must see when in Luang Prabang

Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images
inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

When you visit Luang Prabang, Kuangxi waterfall is likely to be at the top of your list of places to see. Local people will certainly suggest a visit because they are the biggest falls in the north of Laos. Many people say that your stay in Luang Prabang is a waste of time if you don’t stop off at this spectacular cascade.

The cascade is a great place for photographs.

My first visit to Kuangxi was six years ago. They were the largest and highest falls I had ever seen. The sight truly impressed me and I spent half a day wandering around but the most memorable part was an hour’s climb to the top where I stood and looked down at the tumbling plumes of water. From this vantage point I could see the whole of Luang Prabang and beyond. It was truly amazing.
Six years is quite a long time but I can still remember almost everything that I saw at Kuangxi. Last month I was delighted to go back and observe the changes that had taken place.
Last time I was there, I saw a poster about bears but I could not see any in the large pen where they were supposed to be and I wasn’t sure if there actually were any. But this time it was easy to find them.
The falls are about 25 kilometres south of Luang Prabang town centre. A lot of trees have been felled around the town but at Kuangxi I felt I wasn’t just seeing a waterfall but a forest. The wooded area is extensive and full of large plants.
Visitors always appreciate being in a natural environment and it also serves to remind Lao people how important forests are.
I love travelling and exploring wild areas and much prefer to get away from crowds. Kuangsi attracts many visitors but you can get away from other people and find your own space as there’s peace and quiet to be found the further you get from the entrance.
But the bridge over the first pool and cascade that you encounter is crowded because everyone wants to take a selfie here.
Kuangxi has many tiers, leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream.
On the day of my visit it was showery in the early morning so it was quite difficult to walk close to the river because it was wet underfoot. Some visitors preferred to walk on the concrete path on the other side of the falls and then walk alongside the river on the way back.
Although it was rather chilly because of the rain, some visitors couldn’t just gaze at the swirling pool of water but took off their shirts and jumped in.
The pools make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals. Visitors can change their clothes in wooden huts.
There are many ways to get there – tuk-tuk, motorbike, bicycle and boat.
Going by boat is something special because travelling along the Mekong you really get a feel for life in Laos as you pass people fishing and farming in little villages.
But only 10 percent of visitors get to the falls by boat. Mostly they go in group tours after visiting Ou Cave and then by minibus from Ou village to the falls – a drive of about 15 minutes.
Probably the best way is to take a tuk-tuk, which costs 180,000-200,000 kip. You can stay until the site closes and the driver will wait for you to bring you back to town. Pay the driver when you have finished your trip.
Renting a motorbike in Luang Prabang will cost 100,000 to 200,000 per day plus petrol of course. But do be careful if you’re not an experienced rider because the roads aren’t very good.
An entry ticket to the falls is 20,000 kip for foreigners and 10,000 kip for Lao.
The rainy season is the best time to visit, when this spectacular cascade overflows. Visitors can enjoy a swim, a picnic, walks, or a visit to an animal enclosure.

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest UpdateJanuary 09, 2018)

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