Monday, January 10, 2011

Kuang Si Falls - Luang Prabang

The Kuang Si Falls, sometimes spelled Kuang Xi, is a waterfall about 29 kilometers (18 miles) south of Luang Prabang in Laos. These waterfalls are a favorite side trip for tourists in Luang Prabang. The falls begin in shallow pools atop a steep hillside. These lead to the main fall with a 50 m cascade. The water collects in numerous turquoise blue pools as it flows downstream. The many cascades that result are typical of travertine waterfalls.
The locals charge a nominal admission fee to visit the site, but it is well main maintained with walkways and bridges to guide the visitor. Most of the pools are open to swimming (although at least one is closed as being a sacred site). Hikers are able to climb to the top of the falls.
The Kuang Si park starts out at the very bottom of the falls. A winding trail then takes you  past a small enclosure displaying Asian black bears rescued from poachers. This trail continues on through the woods past several turquoise-blue pools of water and small 10-15 foot high cascades, before you reach the top where you’ll find a 180 foot high waterfall. 
There are changing rooms and picnic benches at several of the pools, and there is a deck area with more benches at the top waterfall.  The whole area is shaded and cool, although the water is a bit cold.  Kuang Si is a great destination for a hot afternoon. Some visitors get their thrills by jumping off of the shorter cascades, or off a tree whose branches extend out over the water. The ground is a little slippery with mud, so watch your step.
To the right of the 180 foot waterfalls is a steep trail that leads up to the top of the waterfalls.  This trail is extremely slippery, and you’ll need proper shoes to climb to the top.  At the top you’ll be able to cross over the waterfalls and look down to the pool of water below. This route is also the way you will come if you take the Green Discovery hike to Kuang Si



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