Indonesia & Laos: Nature 2
As we return to Indonesia and Laos for Nature across Southeast Asia, waterfalls and rivers remain steadfast as pillars of the two nations. National parks, incredible underwater exploration, and mountain peaks welcoming the perfect sunrise are all part of the natural fabric of these stunning countries.
While Indonesia’s status as an archipelago means it has no shortage of fantastic beaches, its aquatic feats are not limited to the coastline. Visitors to Bali will find the Nungnung Waterfall about an hour outside of Ubud, falling with incredible strength from 164 feet high. A little closer to the city, a jungle adventure includes streams and wildlife, as well as the Kanto Lampo Waterfall, cascading over a series of protruding rocks. Of course, the beaches are still a must-see, such as Tanjung Layar Beach on the west coast of Java, which boasts two coral reefs.
If visitors decide to walk down 509 steps, they will find a clear view of the powerful Nungnung Waterfall. Falling from a height of 164 feet, the water of Nungnung deposits in a small pool at its base. Found about an hour outside of Ubud in Bali, the waterfall is less crowded than others in the area and completely immersed in the nature of the area.
With so much of Bali comprised of the jungle, there is so much nature to explore outside of the city of Ubud. Cross a bamboo bridge over rivers, swim in the Kanto Lampo Waterfall, and walk under the rainforest’s canopy over streams and past wildlife. Previously used for irrigation, Kanto River is just 30 minutes outside of Ubud and falls over an extensive series of rock formations. It and the nearby Kanto Lampo spring are both cant-miss aspects of the jungles near Ubud.
Tanjung Layar Beach
Directly across the island from Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, Tanjung Layar Beach is an oasis on the west coast of Java. Found in the Byah District, its location on the edge of Pelabuhan Ratu Bay provides uninterrupted views of the sun setting. Though filled with interesting rock formations, the beach is also a popular surfing destination. The two extensive coral reefs are another draw to the area, sticking out of the water like hills covered by shrubbery.
Stunning and expansive scenery is also a staple of Laos.
Whether on top of a mountain or up close to the action, Laos provides a sense of serenity to visitors as they explore its many natural facets. Above the UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang is Mount Phousi, an incredible vantage point from which to see the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, especially at sunrise. The Mekong River itself is integral to the nation, acting as a method of transport and a supplier. With rice making up 60% of Laos’ agriculture, explore the patties in Vang Vieng, a stunning display below wooden pathways. Then take a multi-day trek across the vast Nam Ha National Park, a designated ASEAN Heritage Site made up mostly of the forest.
There is arguably no better place in Laos to take in the sunrise or sunset than atop Mount Phousi. At the top of a 300-stair-climb, it offers unobstructed views of the golden pagodas at UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang and of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. The breathtaking location is worth waking up early for.
Starting in China, the Mekong River winds its way through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam before draining out in the South China Sea. It’s no surprise then that it’s the longest river in Southeast Asia. The Mekong River is incredibly important across the region, with Laos’ capital city Vientiane sitting on its banks. The water supply is a critical source for the only landlocked nation in Southeast Asia, while also providing a serene natural backdrop across the country.
Rice paddy fields like this one are integral in Laos. With over 60% of the country’s agriculture devoted to the grain, these fields are tied to its natural landscape. In particular, this one is in Vang Vieng, a small town halfway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, with magnificent caves and the Nam Song River flowing around it. Explore the rice patty field from a raised wooden walkway, perfect for observing without disturbing its growth.
Nam Ha National Park
Established in 1993, the over half a million-acre Nam Ha National Park is a designated ASEAN Heritage Site. Found in the Namtha province, the Nam Ha National Protected Area stretches to the Chinese border. Most of the park is covered in a deciduous forest. But three large rivers, Nam Tha, Nam Fa, and Nam Long, also snake through it, eventually feeding into the Mekong River. Visitors can participate in multi-day treks, experiencing the sunrise and sunsets across the landscape.
Whether high up on a mountaintop or wading your feet in glistening water, Indonesia and Laos are filled with beautiful, expansive nature just waiting to be discovered.