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Tat Kuang Si: A Wonderland of Waterfalls and Jade Pools

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

The Kuang Si Waterfalls near Luang Prabang (32 K or 20 miles south of LP) are quite possibly the most beautiful natural setting in the country, if not the region.* The long, windy hour-long-ish journey from Luang Prabang is serene and scenic in and of itself.

Caveat: This is a photo-dominate post! I feel it’s best to let the images speak for themselves!

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Views out the window of the bus, en route to Tat Kuang Si from LP.

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

Verdurous Forest

Once at the falls (entry cost: 30,000 kip), a paved road takes you through lush, verdant jungle. The flora and fauna express the most vibrant color palette.

Side note: There is also a Bear Rescue Center at Tat Kuang Si. I will cover this very important project in a separate post.

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

The Falls

The picturesque, multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone rock formations into crystalline jade and turquoise-colored pools. The encroaching, wild jungle completes the look and feel of being in an untouched oasis.

A trail ascends along side the waterfalls to a an idyllic second tier with a pristine swimming hole. According to my Lonely Planet book, this area is usually fairly private, save for thousands of butterflies (we didn’t hike very far up the trail).

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

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Me and Ann Marie, my Irish mate.Photo credit: Yogi Patel

The main cascade is 60 meters (200 feet) high. Tat Kuang Si is apparently a typical tavertine waterfall (more on this in a bit).

Number 2!

I’m not sure why I want to keep using the TripAdvisor reference, but Tat Kuang Si ranks #2 of 29 sites to see in/near Luang Prabang (see the list and reviews here). I also found this blog post that mentions Tat Kuang Si by Many Moon Honeymoom, reposted by Lonely Planet’s blog.

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

How Are Those Pools so Green?!

The preternatural aqua-turquoise-jade shades of Tat Kuang Si’s pools can be easily explained by geology. Back to that above-mentioned term, Travertine falls….

Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, often having a concentric or fibrous appearance, and is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate.  The rich blue-green water hue emanates from light reflecting through the high levels of calcium carbonate deposits in the water.

Travertine formations occur in white, tan and cream-colored varieties. They are familiar to me. I saw the white travertine terrace in Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone. However, what I was most reminded of at Tat Kuang Si was a place I’ve never visited but have seen countless photos of: Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

Warning: Photo Overload

I did mention at the beginning of this post that I went a little heavy on the photos, right? I just couldn’t help myself. I loved this spot THAT much, and I want you to love it too! I want you to read this post, see these photos, and immediately book a flight to Laos because you want to go there that badly! OK, so I know that’s an unrealistic goal, but at least put it on your short list of places to see, will ya?

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

IMG_8276

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

Photo credit: Yogi Patel

Photo credit: Yogi Patel

I love that these emerald pools are surrounded by lush jungle. It almost seems like it was professionally landscaped (kind of like the hot springs at Arenal in Costa Rica)!

A Bug’s Life

Just to mix it up a bit, here are a few macro insect shots…

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

Come for the Falls, Stay for the Pools

To me, the highlight of Tat Kuang Si was not necessarily the stunning, three-tiered waterfalls. I was most impressed by the geological travertine layout of the cascading turquoise pools amidst the lush jungle fauna. I think I easily could have spent the day there, swimming, picnicking, and relaxing with a book or some friends. Plenty of people seemed to be doing just that, but we didn’t really have the time budgeted to spend more than a couple of hours there.

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© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.com

There’s Even a Rope Swing!

I mean, come on!! Why didn’t I bring my swimsuit? Oh, that’s right. I was told that I couldn’t wear a swimsuit without covering up with a shirt. Hmmm, I did see plenty of women in bikinis. Cultural faux paux? Maybe. (In Southeast Asia, it is considered rude to bear shoulders and knees). Should I have gone for it anyway? Probably.

I just settled for snapping photos of my friends enjoying a swim instead.

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Vidar braving the rope swing.

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Sooo inviting!!!

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The Vidar-swing

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I think he got about 3 swings in, there.

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Frank going for it!

Frank going for it!

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Good fun. And Vidar is up, again, of course.

Tips and Takeaways

  1. If you’ve never been to Laos, Go. Just do it!
  2. Make it a point to visit Kuang Si Waterfalls.
  3. Make it a point to spend at least half a day there.
  4. Bring a bathing suit. Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t swim in a bikini (But bring an extra shirt to wear over your suit in case you feel uncomfortable). If you’re a dude, bring an extra shirt, too. I would say it was about half and half, modesty vs. immodesty. When in doubt, air on the side of cultural sensitivity!

Thanks for stopping by!

♥ Lindsay

*This statement is completely subjective, and I do not claim to have seen Laos or other countries in the region in their entirety.

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6 Responses to Tat Kuang Si: A Wonderland of Waterfalls and Jade Pools

  1. Kathy November 6, 2015 at 6:13 AM #

    Hi there
    I just loved reading your post, I am heading to Laos in a week or so and have about a week to enjoy. Seeing this post makes me certain I am doing the right thing, I remember seeing a photo of these pools years ago and always wishing I could go! Now I can … with my swimsuit!

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 10:04 PM #

      Way to go Kathy! I wish I had jumped in- in retrospect. How was your trip?? I’d love to see some photos!!

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