Luang Prabang’s Hidden Gem

Once we were settled back in Luang Prabang–staying at the same hotel as before, the Apple 2 Guesthouse–we decided we had more to explore, and opted against the three day slow boat ride to Chiang Mai. This may have had something to do with the alarm going off at 6:00am, and wanting to stay in our cozy bed…

Anyway, with a couple more days, we wanted to see another waterfall, especially since Kuang Si was so beautiful. After slurping down a smoothie and noodle soup for breakfast (my breakfast, lunch, and dinner here), we rented two bicycles and took off in the general direction of the waterfall. Side note, without WiFi, it is difficult to know if you’re actually going in the right direction.

We quickly realized that our single-speed bikes were not up to the challenge of the rocky uphill road, so we locked them to a fence and began walking. It said the waterfall was about 6 km from town, so thought the walk wouldn’t be bad. After walking uphill in flip flops on a dirt road for about an hour, and not making much progress, we kept thinking it had to be close. Thankfully, a nice man stopped and picked us up, and we hopped in for the rest of the ride. We never said where we were going, assuming the dirt road only had one destination. After about a 10 minute ride (that would have taken so long to walk!) he pulls up to an interesting garden, park, resort-esque place.

Turns out, we hadn’t even gone far enough to reach the original waterfall, but had stumbled upon Nahm Dong Park; this place has to be the best kept secret in all of Laos.

The park is only 20,000 kip to enter, and was absolutely deserted. You enter through a beautiful botanical garden, and are then guided to a well-kept trail that brings you through the jungle, over the jungle on bridges (coming back to this), or to multiple cascading waterfalls.

The bridges are essentially wooden planks held together, attached via treehouses throughout the jungle. To say the are unnerving is an understatement… We walked along the swaying bridges, overlooking the emerald blue water below and lush green jungle above. But, per usual, we were drenched in sweat and wanted to take a dip, so made our way down to the first waterfall. As I mentioned, there is no one here… So, we had all the waterfalls and their pools to ourselves!

We swam in a couple of the pools, dove under the waterfalls, and it was the most relaxing, amazing moment of my life. I am astonished that this place does not come up first when you Google, “What to do in Luang Prabang.” Then we hopped on the trail (that follows the river, and thus, waterfalls upon waterfalls), and trekked through the jungle.

The entire day was spent hiking and swimming, and there were zero other tourists around us. Once we had our fill, we faced the challenge of getting home… Without a tuk tuk service available, we had to walk. However, it was downhill, so wasn’t too shabby of a walk home–it was 10 km each way.

For dinner, we passed on the street food in the night market (our usual go to), and went to a restaurant. One Beerlao into our meal, it started to rain, followed by thunder and lightening that was so intense, you could hear the actual lightening crack. Then, the monsoon begins. Let me tell you, this wasn’t ordinary rain. After 20 minutes, there was a six inch river of water covering the street. The water made its way into our restaurant, the power shut off, and everyone had to sit on their chairs to not get soaked. It was so intense, even the locals were surprised and taking videos. My first monsoon, and monsoon magic really is a thing!

The rain cooled down after about an hour, and we took a tuk tuk to the local bowling alley--the thing to do here in Luang Prabang. Very bizarre, but very fun.

The unexpected gem and crazy weather were the perfect way to leave Laos. Next, off to Chiang Mai, Thailand!