I recently received an email touting America’s best 5 swimming holes which made me long for one of my most daring swimming moments while outside Luang Prabang, Laos. Luang Prabang is at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers -also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – it is still very untouched to the modern world. We never expected the heavy French influence, but that is who occupied the area until 1945. Plenty of crossiants, baguettes and beautiful Buddist temples – we even had one right across the street from our hotel.
We were definitely in the middle of the rainy season, but that did not stop us from heading the 45 minutes to the Kuang Si Waterfalls by way of tuk tuk. I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$45USD. And we had our own personal tuk tuk. Luckily the driver had plastic he could roll down over the sides to prevent (some of) the rain from soaking us. The views were pretty magnificent and the roads were mostly paved and a little bumpy. No worries – our driver waited for us while we went into the park.
The park charges around 20,000 Lao Kip (=around $2.50 USD) and also houses the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. The Bear Rescue Centre began in 2003 to house bears that were rescued from the illegal pet and Chinese medicine trades. Most of the bears there are Asiatic Black Bears or “Moon Bears.”
After crossing this amazing bridge
and wandering in the rain, as it was pretty muddy that day.
We made it to the falls.
If you look closely, you can see wooden steps nailed to the tree branch coming from the left of the first photo. We watched as a group of 3 others plunged into the green waters. I’m not much of a daredevil, quickly thinking of all of the terrible things that might happen. I guess I can blame my nursing brain for that. But watching these fearless travelers, I thought, when else am I going to jump off a tree into a waterfall in Laos? So I jumped.
And who else might you run into when you are in the middle of a waterfall park? A couple of MSU alumni named Stu & Alicia from Hawaii. We ended up celebrating with them later on in Vientiane, Laos with a BeerLao tower, of course.
Where did we stay in Luange Prabang?
Luang Prabang - The View Pavilion Hotel – Great location. Amazing views. Right across the street from a temple. Yummy breakfast.