Kuang Si Waterfall Side-trip with Tiger Trail | Laos


After several days of exploring the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, the lure of the great outdoors took me 30 kilometers south to the town of Long Lao—the home of the Hmong indigenous people of Indochina. Accompanied by three other staff of Tiger Trail Adventure, our truck set off under the misty fog of the early morning. After an hour of driving through small settlements and along a long stretch of rough road, we reached the trekking jump-point to Kuang Si Falls under a still gloomy sky.

Sophie Gianan

“Don’t worry, my guess is it won’t rain” my guide DK told me. After figuring out the numerous times he’d undertaken the trek to Kuang Si, I reckoned his weather forecasting is as spot-on as most advanced meteorological gadgets.

Where to go in Luang Prabang

As we began our hike to which DK assured me will take only a couple of hours, the thick clouds started to spread apart revealing patches of blue skies. “See, I told you”, DK told us. We were a group of four consisting of three Tiger Trail Adventure staff including DK and a—you guess it—a fellow Filipino who has been working in Laos for the last three years.

Hiking in Luang Prabang

“There’s like 20 of us Filipinos working here in Luang Prabang but there’s more in Vientiane where I was based during my first two years here”, John the Kabayan (countryman) told me.

The Hmong People of Indochina

The first half of the trail consisted of flat terrain edged on both sides by rice fields, vegetable plantations and orchards of rubber trees. Along our way we encountered smiling locals and small children waving from the windows of their wooden houses. On a narrow path leading to the paddies, we met a young woman carrying a woven basket on her back filled with leafy vegetables.

Sandra Santiago

DK asked her if she could pose for a photograph to which she gamely obliged by beaming a friendly smile. According to her (as translated to me by DK), she was on her way home after gathering some herbs and spicy leaves to be used as ingredients for a buffalo meat dish her mother will be preparing for lunch. She was in a hurry because after their meal, she will have to attend class at her school.

Before she went her way, she motioned to me to look at her photograph. She then smiled once more after I showed it to her. How I wish I had an Instax camera, so I could have given her a printed copy instead.

Koryn Iledan

The Hmong people are an ethnic group found in Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Southern China. Settlers in several regions across the Indochina for more than 8,000 years, the Hmong people has gone through their ill-fated share of oppression. From the genocide perpetrated by the Qing Dynasty in Southern China during the 18th and 19th century to being subjected by the CIA to fight against the communists during the 1st and 2nd Indochina Wars, the number of Hmong people in Laos has dwindled to just over 500,000.

Lunch and Dip at Gushing Waters of Kuang-Si Waterfalls

We arrived at the uppermost level of Kuang-Si Waterfalls just before lunch time. We decided to eat our packed lunch on a small picnic area under a canopy of trees. Mine was a decent fried noodle topped with shredded meat and vegetables, boiled egg and an apple fruit. My companions had fried rice, minced meat and boiled egg.

Tina Punzal and Karla Ramos

I noticed them sprinkling MSG (monosodium glutamate) on their rice which made them chow down their lunch with gusto. “Try it” DK tells me. “No, thanks. I’m good with this” I told him. It was true, the noodles already burst with flavors plus I’m not much a fan of using MSG as sort of like an iodized salt.

Marky Ramone Go

After lunch, we went down a hundred meters down to the main tier of Kuang-Si Waterfalls. Towering approximately 50 feet and shaped like the letter A, the cascading waters divides as they stream down into numerous pools continuing to several cascades below. There is a wooden footbridge built 50 meters away where one can get a front-row view of Kuang-Si Waterfalls.

Levy Amosin and Celine Murillo

Swimming isn't allowed on this part, but you can take a dip at the succeeding cascading pools below. I spent half an hour interchanging between taking photographs and staring intently at the waterfalls to permanently etch an image of it in my memory. Afterward, we went down two cascades down and settled on a larger natural pool.

Best Waterfalls in Southeast Asia

“Here, you can swim here. Take your time” DK told me. As my three companions from Tiger Trail Adventure huddled under a tree conversing about work, I wasted no time in taking a swim and dip at the cool turquoise waters of Kuang-Si.

What to do in Luang Prabang

Taking a different trekking route on the way back to our truck, we passed by the Tas Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center. At first glance, I thought it was a zoo that displays bears in captivity, but DK explained to me that this is a rescue center managed by the NGO organization Free the Bears, , and is home to more than a couple of dozens of Asiatic Black Bears rescued from hunters and illegal animal traders.

Mujee Gonzales

The whole side-trip to Kuang-Si Waterfalls took almost a day as we were back in the town center of Luang Prabang before 3pm. With my quench for a great outdoor fix, thoroughly satisfied, I headed to a random café Nam Khan river to relax my weary legs as I go about the day’s mini adventure in my head safely storing it in my memory vault.