Travelers in Southeast Asia tend to have wide-ranging interests, so it's surprising to find a travel blogger with a single-minded focus on one type of geological formation.
Kirk Beiser is that kind of blogger: waterfalls are his specialty (bordering on obsession), with a travel blog that covers his experiences hunting for waterfalls throughout Asia, and social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) with more of the same.
We figured there was no better person to ask about Southeast Asia's waterfalls: in the conversation that follows, you'll see we were right on the money.
Ban Gioc Falls, Vietnam. Image courtesy of buiannha/Creative Commons
Q: We've followed your posts over the past few months and I noted your laserlike focus on waterfalls. How did that get started? Why do waterfalls fascinate you so much as a traveler?
I have always been active outdoors and really got into hiking after graduating from university (engineering degree).
After a few years of working as a design engineer at Ford Motor Company I quit to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and also went to Peru and Ecuador (a lot of photos). Those two trips led to an endless desire to travel everywhere and eventually I moved to Taiwan to teach English.
Tad Fane, Laos. Exotissimo Travel/Creative Commons
I got a DSLR and taught myself the basics of waterfall photography for a few upcoming hikes and I loved the results. I had no idea just how many waterfalls there were in Taiwan when I started my waterfall guide in 2011 but I have visited 170 waterfalls and will likely double that in the next 2-3 years.
Recently I have started to add waterfalls in East Asia to my guide and Indonesia has become my favorite destination.
Q: Do you prefer waterfalls you can swim in? Waterfalls that photograph well? Waterfalls with a cultural history?
I like a combination of a beautiful hike with a perfect waterfall swimming hole. My favorites are usually a little more difficult to get to and because of that there likely won't be many people around.
I enjoy the challenge of photographing each waterfall. I have worked very hard to explore different angles and viewpoints in addition to adding people to give the photo a sense of scale.
Q: What are your top 4 waterfalls to visit in Southeast Asia?
Madarakaripura Waterfall, Indonesia. Image courtesy of Isen Majennt/Creative Commons
Madakaripura Waterfall in East Java is hands down the best waterfall that I have ever visited. The hike is nice but then you walk into a 200 meter tall tube with a huge waterfall and mossy cliffs hanging over your head.
This waterfall is nearly impossible to accurately photograph and I would recommend a VERY wide lens. I used a 15mm on APSC and it wasn't nearly wide enough. This waterfall can be added on to some of the Mt Bromo tours. 11,000 IDR ticket plus 10,000 IDR motorcycle taxi to the trailhead.
Inambakan Falls, Philippines. Image courtesy of LeylanR/Creative Commons
Inambakan Falls in the Philippines was a stunning surprise in southern Cebu. Kawasan Falls is the most famous but I really enjoyed the peacefulness of Inambakan Falls with its beautiful blue water.
It is becoming more popular but has so far avoided the development that surrounds Kawasan Falls. You can snorkel in Moalboal on one day and take a daytrip to Inambakan Falls the following day. 40/20 (foreign/local) peso entrance fee.
Dua Warna Waterfall, Indonesia. Image courtesy of Bangbeni/Creative Commons
Dua Warna Waterfall in North Sumatra is my pick for prettiest waterfall that I have ever been to. It isn't very high (30-40m) but it falls into a beautiful turquoise pool with brilliant mossy green walls. It is located near the more famous (and still great) Sipisopiso Waterfall and Lake Toba. (Read about the Lake Toba Festival around these parts.)
Guides are required for this hike. I arranged the trip through my guesthouse that included transportation to the waterfall.
Thi Lor Su Waterfall, Tak, Thailand. Image courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Thi Lor Su Waterfall in Thailand was one of my first waterfalls that I visited when I moved to Asia. I had just started blogging and studying photography at the time and I would love to return sometime. We stayed in a remote Karen hilltribe village and there are many other hidden waterfalls in this region.
My honorable mention list: Langanan Waterfall in Sabah, Malaysia; Sekumpul Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia; Erawan Waterfall in Thailand; and Sipisopiso Waterfall in North Sumatra.
My wish list for Southeast Asia: Ban Gioc Waterfall in northern Vietnam; Tiu Kelep Waterfall in Lombok, Indonesia; Tad Fane Waterfall (and the Bolaven Plateau) in Laos; and Dark Horse Falls in northeastern Myanmar.
- Read more: Read about Khone Phapheng waterfall in Laos.