Dipping your toes in the gently pooling turquoise waters of the Kuang Si Waterfalls or diving right into one of the many swimmable tiers formed by these falls is an experience straight out of another time, a moment of paradise in a lush oasis.
Locals and tourists alike come to this spot just south of Luang Prabang to cool off from the heat that is a big part of life in Laos. Hidden away in the jungle, the falls cascade down through the vegetation over white limestone for 200 feet in total, the water collecting in beautiful blue pools at the bottom. There are three tiers to the falls, each one a new experience to discover.
The falls are fully set up for natural swimming: you can change into your swimsuit in the huts close to the entrance, and the temperature of the water, although cool at first, is a wonderful respite from the heat. With no coastline to cool off at in Laos, this is the perfect place to take a dip.
Despite their natural surroundings and location right in amongst the jungle, the falls are very easy to reach. Just south of Luang Prabang, you can take a tuk tuk from the centre of town relatively cheaply. Or why not hire a motorcycle and take in some of the scenic villages and countryside along the way. Stop off at a Hmong village if you are keen to see the traditional costume still worn by the older female villagers. Here you will be able to buy a memorable souvenir to take home.
Before you take your dip, make sure to call in at the bear sanctuary which is found just by the entrance to the falls. More than 20 rescued moon bears call the sanctuary home, and it is fantastic to watch them roam around. The bears are highly valued in Chinese culture as their bile is used in many medicinal treatments.
Kuang Si Waterfalls is one of the most soothing spots in Asia. With dappled shade filtering through the tropical trees and relaxed bodies splashing around in the waters, there are few better places to be on a hot day. A top tip: before you leave, make sure to leave the swimmers below and head up to the top of the trail that runs by the falls, where you’ll find spectacular views of the valley from a clearing in the tropical vegetation.