“Tat Kuang Si”, The Kuang Si waterfalls, around a 45 minute tuk tuk journey from Luang Prabang were undoubtedly a highlight of my holiday and something I would suggest adding to everyone’s itinerary when visiting.
Local legend has it that the waterfalls were created when a wise village elder dug into the earth, revealing the waters of the Si river underneath. It was said that the echo from the waterfalls was so enchanting that it drew people to them from as far away as China, in the process it also attracted a beautiful golden deer to the falls who made its home there, sheltering under the rocks. This legend in turn created the modern name of the waterfalls; Tat, meaning waterfalls, Kuang, meaning deer and Si meaning to dig.
As I was only wearing flipflops I decided against hiking up the waterfall to the water source (around 45 minutes from the top of the falls) instead staying close to the beautiful aqua blue pools of water at the base of the falls as the water flows downstream where it eventually converges with the Mekong.
The striking colour of the falls is apparently attributed to the fact that the water flows over limestone rocks and is filled with calcium carbonate that reflects with the light creating the gorgeous colours you can see in my photos.
The waterfalls are surrounded by a beautiful forest home to all types of wildlife from squirrels and slow loris to wild pigs, deer and even bears. There is a bear rescue centre that you can visit at the base of the waterfalls which I avoided as I wasn’t sure as to its credentials, however I have since learnt that “Free the Bears” http://www.freethebears.org.au/web/Projects/Laos/Meet-the-Bears/ who operate it are supposed to be highly reputable indeed and are doing some great rescue and conservation work in this field.
It is worth taking your swimming kit as the waterfalls are accessible for people to swim in and if you are as early as I was (I arrived at 9am) you may well have the waterfalls pretty much to yourselves as it wasn’t until I was leaving around an hour and half later that tour groups and backpackers seemed to start arriving.