Where We Be
Kuang Si Falls & Xieng Men Village
For a very easy day trip, take the local ferry across the
Mekong to Xieng Men village (5,000 kip / 60 cents each)
After a hazy river crossing, we walked along a pleasant brick-lined trail
to three different wats (temples), each with a 10,000 kip ($1.25) entry fee
The first temple you come to is Wat Xiengmen
Wat Xiengmen has some lovely design elements
Continuing along the path (which eventually turns to dirt and veers off to
the right), you come to Wat Chomphet, reached via a steep set of stairs
Wat Chomphet is mostly in disrepair but the
wooden ceiling has clever animal designs on it
The last temple, Wat Long Khoun, is perhaps the best of the three. Once used by Luang Prabang’s kings
as a pre-coronation retreat, its grounds are serene and you feel like you're a long way out in the country.
These warriors guard the entry to the temple
Lovely murals decorate the inner walls. This one feels a
bit like an oriental Chagall with its upside-down horses.
There's even an unusual mural inside featuring a shark feeding frenzy!
If you have time for just one day trip from Luang
Prabang, we definitely recommend Kuang Si Falls
Xieng Men -- Across the Mekong
This temple also affords good views across the river
of Mount Phusi and the city of Luang Prabang
On our way in we visited the Bear Rescue Center, a fenced-in area with about ten Sun Bear and Asiatic Black Bear. Some were resting in
hammocks, others wrestling, others standing on two legs and looking decidedly human (I thought this one might be a human in a bear suit!)
Getting to the falls is a pleasant one-hour trip through
the countryside. Here's a closeup map of the site.
When we arrived around 9 am we had the place to ourselves.
By the time we left around noon it was much busier.
This was one of our favorite spots, especially in the
morning with the golden sunlight shining on the water
Even the trees were impressive -- probably due to the abundant water supply
Just the sound of the water was a treat in and of itself
This bridge is THE spot for Kuang Si photo ops
We hiked all the way to the top of the falls, but be forewarned
it's a steep climb and there's not much of a view down
Kuang Si is one of those magical places where
it's still okay to swim amidst the delightful scenery
One good thing about hiking to the top:
it makes you ready for a cool swim!
At this swimming hole you can jump from a low tree overhanging the water -- fun!
if you keep your feet still, small fish approach and start nibbling! If you're all the way in the water they'll nibble on your whole
body, which can be unnerving. Even just your feet is hard to bear for long as they sort of tickle you from multiple directions.
Kuang Si Falls is listed by TripAdvisor as the #1
thing to do in and around Luang Prabang and
we can see why: the falls are gorgeous, and a
series of cascading pools below the biggest
falls makes for not one but several amazing
swimming holes. The water is a lovely menthol-
green mixed with cobalt-blue, and the way the
lower cascades descend in gentle tiers makes it
a special place unlike any other we’ve seen. It's
a 1-hour journey by songthaew (~160,000 kip or
$20 for two). Entry fee is 20,000 kip ($2.50) each.

Another easy day trip is riding the ferry for five
minutes across the Mekong (5,000 kip or 60
cents each) to the much smaller village of Xieng
Men. From there you get a nice view back to
Luang Prabang and Mount Phusi. We walked
along a pleasant brick-lined trail, past noodle
shops and baby chicks and scenes of small
town life, to three different out-in-the-country
temples (10,000 kip or $1.25 each per temple).
These are the highest falls -- impressive even in the
dry season -- located at the end of the main trail