Kuang Si Falls, Laos
These falls are one of the main attractions near the sleepy town of Luang Prabang. About an hour outside the town, through peaceful rolling hills, they are clear and cold and stunning.
There is a moon bear sanctuary on the way into the falls, which was unexpected and adorable. Small streams run through the enclosed area, so the animals have fresh water to play and bathe in. There were about 20 in all, including some cubs who played with a very Poo bear-esque hanging hive.
Check out Free the Bears for information about how these sanctuaries rescue bears intended for bile factories.
The Falls gather in stages and you enter on the lowest. There are three big tiers, 2 of which are accessible for swimming. At the end of those three is the main falls, which comes down a cliff from an impressive height. The layered falls combined with the bright azure water is a spectacular sight, and a new experience for us.
We hiked to the top of the main falls to the calm quiet of the cliff-top. We couldn't see over the falls. but there was an unencumbered view of the surrounding hills. For all the places we've been in SEA, this felt the most remote and disconnected from modernity.
It was time for a dip, so we climbed into the chilly water and hung out for as a long we could in the natural jacuzzi between the terraces. Mike was feeling photogenic, so I huffed out and up and hung off a tree to get this shot of him looking literally and metaphorically chill.