Hidden away in the Laos countryside, a short drive away from Luang Prabang lays the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. With it’s mystic pools of blue water, enchanting waterfalls, easy hikes and beautiful views, Kuang Si Waterfalls is the sparkling gem of northern Laos and a paradise for travelling families.
When it comes to travelling with young children in tow, we think it is important to get away from the hustle and bustle and step back into nature from time to time. So a day trip to Kuang Si waterfalls was an absolute must visit while in Luang Prabang. We try to do as much of our adventuring as we can independently, mainly because it’s easier to travel with young children when having the flexibility of our own schedule. With the streets of Luang Prabang lined with tuk tuks, it was really easy brokering a deal with a driver and arranging a trip independently, with hotel pick up.
On arrival we found ourselves on a street lined with street food vendors and shops selling tourist souvenirs. We made our way along the street and came to the entrance of the Kuang Si Waterfalls. We paid our entrance fee 20, 000 kip (approximately £1.70) and found ourselves at Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, which is located on the same ground as the waterfalls and is run by Free the Bears.
The Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre is a wonderful sanctuary for bears that have been rescued from illegal poaching and a life of torment. Bears in this region are poached from the wild using cruel trapping methods, before being transported to a small cage, where they will spend the rest of their lives having bile regularly taken from them for traditional medicines.
We are trying to visit a number of different conservation efforts during our travels, so this was a lovely place to stumble upon unexpectedly. The boys loved watching the bears playing together and it was a great place to help explain to them about conservation and why projects like this are important.
A short walk down a well trodden path from the Bear Rescue Centre, are the first of the Kuang Si Waterfalls. There is something amazing and almost mystical about first stepping into the clearing. We stood for a moment at the sloping banks, taking in the scene before us. The vibrant blue waters tumbled down the first, small waterfall that lay beneath a wooden bridge crossing into the forest on the other side of the lagoon.
After a while, Bear wanted to play pooh sticks. So we found some leaves and walked halfway across the bridge. On the count of three, we dropped our leaves from the bridge and raced to the other side to see which leaf had made it under the bridge the quickest. It can be so easy to get caught up in seeing everything while travelling to new places, but we love to stop and take in ordinary moments in the most extraordinary places during our travels.
We continued up the path, regularly coming across more enchanting pools of water and larger, more fascinating waterfalls. Eventually we reached ‘the waterfall’. It towered above it’s surrounding landscape and the visitors that had journeyed from all over the globe to see it.
This is where we learned about the myth of Kuang Si and the golden deer. According to local legend, the Kuang Si Waterfalls were formed when a wise old man dug deep into the earth to reveal the waters beneath.
After the waters came to Kuang Si, a beautiful golden deer made it’s home under the big rock that protruded from the falls. The sound of the water falling onto the rock created an enchanting echo, drawing people to the waterfall from as far away as China.
Unfortunately the large rock from the legend is no longer at the Kuang Si Waterfalls as it fell during an earthquake in 2001, but the myth continues to enchant the many people who visit the waterfalls each year.
Visiting places like Kuang Si Waterfalls and learning about the legends, is a great way of opening up conversations with the boys about myths, legends and folklore. I always find it fascinating how words crafted into stories can be so powerful, that they are passed down through the generations and are still being told today. It just goes to show that words hold amazing power and that is perhaps the the most unexpected lesson we took away from Kuang Si Waterfalls.