Li Phi Falls, Laos
Located on Don Khon, 1.5km downriver from the French Bridge, vast Tat Somphamit is a gorgeous set of raging rapids. It’s other name, Li Phi, means ‘spirit trap’ and locals believe the falls act as just that, a trap for bad spirits as they wash down the river. Local fishermen risk their skin edging out onto rocks in the violent flow of the cascades to empty bamboo traps. Don’t try this stunt yourself – travellers have died slipping off the rocks beyond the barrier.
At the back end of the park, below the falls, is little Li Phi Beach (under water in the rainy season) A fundamental fear of ghosts means you’ll never see locals swimming here. But even rationalists need to be wary as the current runs fast. Xai Kong Nyai Beach, a kilometre downriver, is a safer, year-round swimming option. Above the beach is a lovely thatched roof restaurant and though it stops serving at 5pm, you can stick around to watch the sunset. There are lots of other, cheaper restaurants set back away from the falls.