After spending a full day walking around the historic town of Luang Prabang under a brutal sun, we decided to head to the Kuang Si waterfalls. We again woke up before sunrise to witness the alms ceremony, and then walked around the fresh produce market on the west side of the center. It was lively and colorful, if a bit yucky at times, with frogs, lizards and fried squirrels. We again had crepes and fruit shakes for breakfast in the central shacks. And then we took advantage of the fact that it was just 7am to secure a cheaper transport to the waterfalls. Usually, tuk-tuk vans do the roundtrip (~45 min each way) for kip 200,000 (~$25) and can take up to 6 people. If you are on a budget, you wait until 11am or so, when most travelers are arranging their transport, and share. We negotiated with a driver to take us for half the price, with the condition to return at noon, thus letting him take another batch. Going early had the advantage of setting our own schedule and enjoying the waterfalls virtually alone.
Once in the park, we quickly walked up to the first fall and marveled at the light turquoise pools. The second pool, a few minutes uphill was even nicer, and the last fall was the most impressive. Kuang Si might not be as stunning as the Celeste waterfalls in Costa Rica, but it’s worth a visit if you’re in Laos. We got there so early that we decided to walk to some cave that was signaled on the trail at the top of the falls. It took a long while and the formations and Buddha statues in the cave were nothing special… but it was the exercise we needed to get ready to jump into the cold water. It was a very refreshing swim in a beautiful environment.
Suddenly, a ton of tourists arrived… that was our cue to leave. Before exiting the park, we stopped at the bear rescue center, where a dozen or so black bears played around in a protected area, having been rescued from poachers. We got back to Luang Prabang right on time for lunch, and found a quiet local restaurant over the Mekong river, where we enjoyed the yummiest grilled fish ever. We walked around the city one last time before packing and going to the bus station to catch our ride to the Plain of Jars.