During my year-long journey across Southeast Asia, I have discovered some magnificent places and true wonders of nature. Some of those, usually being a true highlight, were waterfalls. Their appearance was as diverse as nature itself. Sometimes mellow, pristine and relaxing, with their clean waters making their way down rock stairs and filling up crystal clear rock pools. Sometimes roaring, loud, gushing, almost brutally filling the air with fine mist and all so powerful. I have been asked if I didn’t get tired of seeing yet another waterfall. But to be honest, discovering a waterfall in all its beauty never lost its magic for me. It will always be a highlight which I will always appreciate, no matter how many I have seen before. Some of those highlights I would like to share with you here at ESCapology.
Erawan Falls, Kanchanaburi – Thailand
The Erawan Falls consist of actually 7 waterfalls, each one higher up than the other. Every single waterfall forms pools of crystal clear water, bright turquoise in color. The path up to the last fall is quite demanding and takes a bit of time but it is sure worth it. You can swim in each one of the waterfalls but beware of the fish – they actually bite and nibble on your feet. And these species are bigger than the ones in those fancy fish spa aquariums. Make sure to take your hiking boots and set out early as this place can get pretty busy.
Wachirathan Falls, Inathon National Park – Thailand
Doi Inathon National Park is located in the North of Thailand, not too far away from Chiang Mai and it is named after the highest peak of Thailand, Doi Inathon. The park is home to several waterfalls and one of them is Wachirathan Falls. It is segmented but has an overall height of 80 meters. In the wet season it becomes a roaring monster, covering the whole area in its mists. But even in dry season, when I was there, it makes for a very impressive sight.
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang – Laos
Kunag Si Falls, or sometimes spelled Kuang Xi, is a three tier waterfall about 30km outside of Luang Prabang. Shallow pools form at the lower part which then leads to the main fall with a 60 meter cascade. You can climb to the top and actually cross over but it is steep and quite slippery. You can swim in most of the pools and one even features a swing which of course draws the biggest crowds. Same as with Erawan, this place gets busy. Make sure to be there as early as possible to enjoy a few moments of silence before the tours arrive.
Tappiya Falls, Batad – Philippines
Tappiya Falls was probably one of the heaviest waterfalls I swam in. This massive fall is tugged away behind the Batad Ifugao Rice Terraces. Once in Batad, you can hike there on your own but be aware that the trail is very steep and can be treacherous. Before you can even see Tappiya Falls, you can already hear its roaring sound as massive amounts of water drop down from 30 meters above. The brute force of the waterfall creates a weather of its own. Wind and mist blowing everywhere. The current it creates is so strong that there is no way to make it close. With all that and its chilly waters, Tappiya Falls is a grim beauty of a waterfall which you won’t forget.
You can easily get to Batad from Banaue. Get a jeepney which will take you to Batad Junction where you have to get off. You walk up to the so called saddle and from there down into the valley. Make sure to pack light as it is quite a walk and especially walking back up can be strenuous.
Tad Alang Waterfall, Bolaven Plateau – Laos
The Bolaven Plateau is located in Central Laos, not too far away from Pakse and is famous for its natural beauty and its large coffee plantations. It features a number of waterfalls and Tad Alang is one of them. The mist it created actually formed a nice and clear rainbow and the great thing about it was that you can actually get behind it. This unusual perspective made it a highlight for us. The Bolaven Plateau offers a nice motorbike loop which will take you to a lot of interesting sites and of course the major waterfalls of the area.
Khone Phapheng Falls, Don Khong – Laos
Khon Phapheng Falls is the largest waterfall along the Mekong river and the largest in all of Southeast Asia. It is also the reason why the Mekong isn’t navigable all the way into China. This waterfall isn’t as pretty or fairytale like as for example Erawan Falls. But Khon Phapheng is pure, unrestrained and aggressive as millions of liters of water gush down into Cambodia every second. We were there during dry season and it still was an impressive sight. I can’t imagine how it must be like during wet season when the falls swell up to their maximum power.
Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor Island – Philippines
Cambugahay Falls is a small and relaxed waterfall on the small island of Siquijor which is located in the Central Visayas Region. It consists of several mellow, cascading multi-tiered waterfalls which form a number of small pools and lagoons to relax in. Up on the road you can buy snacks and beer to enjoy at the falls. What I liked about the falls was that even the locals, kids and families alike, enjoyed spending their time around the falls. Very different from the sometimes over-touristic affairs in Thailand and Laos.
Last thoughts …
I have passed many other waterfalls and I am sure there are many more out there which I have missed. But these here made for great memories which I wouldn’t want to miss. Waterfalls are not so common here in Europe. That’s why it fills me with amazement everytime I see one of these natural wonders. And as I said before, I can appreciate each and every one of them, even if I have seen lots of them before. There is just no getting tired of it.
What about you guys? I bet some of you have also discovered a nice waterfall… What is your favorite waterfall? Feel free to share your waterfall-story and your experiences in the comment section below. Philipp