Bali Hidden Gems

What is the first thing popped in your mind when you heard a word “Bali”? Most people will say beach. Indeed Bali has beautiful beaches stretch along the island. Not only the white sandy beaches, but also the black ones. But do you know that Bali is not just about the beach?

The island of Bali has many hidden gems spread throughout the island. Rice terraces, forest, volcano, lakes, rivers, caves, canyon, you name it. The good thing is most of those places are still less exposed by many tourists. You still can enjoy the stream of the river between lush green canyons while you do rafting. Even if you are lucky, you can see one or two apes hanging on the trees.

Wandering the non-touristy places in Bali is one of my favorite activities during the weekend. I usually go with scooter for faster and easier way to travel around this island. I visited a scenic jogging/walking path on the hill in Ubud, enjoy the view from atop of hill overlooking to the sea in Karangasem, found a hidden waterfall with its blue lagoon, hike Mount Batur on sunrise time, trekking in an uphill village overlooking to the lake, and etc.

Bali is famous with its authentic rice terraces called Subak. Subak is the water management (irrigation) system for paddy fields on Bali Island, which was developed in the 9th century. For the Balinese, irrigation is not simply providing water for the plant’s roots, but water is used to construct a complex, pulsed artificial ecosystem. The famous rice terrace in Bali can be found in Tegalalang, Keliki, and Jatiluwih as a UNESCO world heritage. Make sure you stop by those places to see how Balinese combine art and irrigation system.

Are you an adventure seeker? Try to climb the volcano in Bali. Mount Batur is an option for those who want to witness a stunning sunrise above the cloud, with not so long hike needed. Only require about 2 hours hike to reach the top of Mount Batur on 1.717 meters height above sea level. And prepare yourself for the golden sun rising slowly from behind the sea of cloud. You also can spot Mount Rinjani in Lombok at the far east. Want to try the higher level of hike? Then you should hike Mount Agung, the highest one in Bali with 3.031 meters height elevation. Those volcanoes are not only for the strong legs hikers. For people who just want to enjoy the volcano from afar, there are restaurants that offer lunch with the view of this majesty volcano.

Where there’s a volcano, there’s must be a waterfall. And it’s true. Bali has a lot of waterfalls to offer. From the highest one in the midst of forest, until the one situated in the centre of rural villages. Both are worth to visit. And let the cool breeze indulge you while you enjoy the sound of waterfall hit the lagoon underneath.

Talking about the lake, Bali has some lakes with beautiful view surrounding. The famous ones are Lake Batur and Lake Bedugul. Each has their own beauties to capture. While the more secluded one, Lake Tamblingan, lies side by side with Lake Buyan in the midst of Munduk green hills.

I’m sure by now you just can’t wait to come to Bali and explore its secret gems, hidden in the middle of untouched nature. Then just pack your bag and go!

Written by Fransisca Widi

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Best Things To Do in Medan

Medan is the capital of North Sumatra province and also the third largest city in Indonesia. The former citizens of Medan existed out various ethnic and cultural groups such as the Batak, Malay, Javanese, Chinese, and other ethnic groups. Medan is not only rich in cultural diversity, but it also has quite a diverse tourism potential. The following are recommended activities for those of you who want to travel in Medan.

Visiting the legendary Lake Toba
Lake Toba is a vast and beautiful lake formed by an enormous volcanic eruption that occurred around 77,000 years ago. In an exotic view, you’ll see Samosir island in the middle of Lake Toba which has many famous legends in the archipelago. The natural panorama is so beautiful and the rows of mountains surrounding Lake Toba makes the view even more beautiful. You can enjoy the beauty of nature while relaxing and taking a break from work.

Stimulate adrenaline in the Asahan River rafting spot
Challenged for a tour that drives adrenaline? Asahan River is the answer. Asahan River rafting spot has been named the number 3 best rafting spot in the world! Having a steep flow of 22 kilometers, the flow of water comes from Lake Toba, then accommodated in the Sigura-Gura Dam. Its swift flow follows the exotic Bukit Barisan valley, until it ends in the Malacca Strait through Nibung Bay. This river has 4 difficulty levels and the most favorite is the ‘Never Ever End’ side. Asahan River also has fun rafting, which is ideal for children at least 6 years old and can also be enjoyed by the elderly with 80 years of age.

Enjoy delicious Medan Lontong Sayur
Lontong sayur is a typical Indonesian food that is easily found throughout the country. However, Medan’s traditional lontong sayur has a unique taste to the spice. The use of shrimp and tauco makes the food taste more savory and appetizing. The vegetables consist of pumpkin, yellow jackfruit broth, chayote, carrots and long beans. Equipped with balado eggs, rendang meat, dried tempi anchovy beans and fried peanuts. No wonder Medan’s lontong sayur is one of the favorite breakfast menus of the local population.

Visit the place full of culture, the Batak Museum
The Batak Museum is a magnificent building within the TB Silalahi Center complex. This museum was built based on the concept that the Batak ethnic group have known high cultural values since time immemorial. This is evidenced by the fact that the Batak people have their different languages and writings, they have the traditional democratic principles of Dalihan Natolu, and the use of family names or family names. In addition, this museum also acts as a unifying symbol of different Batak clans, namely: Toba Batak, Simalungun Batak, Mandailing Batak, Angkola Batak, Pakpak / Dairi Batak, and Karo Batak. If you want to get to know more about culture in North Sumatra, the Batak Museum is the right place for you to visit.

Seeing the splendor of the Maimun Palace
Medan Maimun Palace is a heritage museum of Deli Sultanate which has an area of 2,772 square meters and has 30 rooms. The distinctive yellow palace of the Malay decorate the architecture of this magnificent building standing in the middle of Medan city is also an icon of the capital of North Sumatra. The design of the Maimun Palace is a combination of elements of Malay, Spanish, Indian, Italian cultural heritage with an Islamic style. According to history, the Maimun Palace building was designed by architects from the Netherlands and was built in 1888 by Sultan Deli, Makmun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah. As a memento, you can take pictures using the Malay aristocratic clothes provided by the museum manager.

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Best things to do in Flores

Flores is one of the most beautiful islands in the Indonesian archipelago. There are a lot of things on the island which you can do and see. Begin your trip to Flores with visiting the komodo dragons, go diving in the wonderful underwater world of the island and interact with the hospitable citizens of the island. Already curious about the island of Flores? Read further and explorer the activities on the island of Flores.

See a real dragon
Visit the Komodo islands on the west of Flores and discover why this small island is famous along many tourists. This island is the only island in the whole world where you will find the Komodo dragons which is the reason why this island is famous. The Komodo dragons are the biggest lizards in the whole world and that also explains the nickname of the animal. These beasts have a highly aggressive nature, so do you dare to encounter with the famous lizards? These lizards are also highly protected by the Indonesian law and if you see them in real, you know why.

Diving to Komodo National Park
After your visit to the Komodo Dragons, you have to dive in Komodo National Park. The underwater world is known for its manta rays. Encountering with the manta rays will make your visit to Flores unforgettable. The waters are also filled with many schools of fish which are not afraid for you as a diver. Swim together with the fauna under water and you will never leave Flores.

Experience the famous Caci Dance
Encounter with the citizens of the west part of Flores. This tribe is called the Manggarai People and this trip has a big wealth of traditions. One of those traditions is the Caci Dance. Feel the excitement of the dance where you’ll see people fighting against each other with whips while they are dressed as animals. The dance is guided by drums which make the dance more serious, but don’t be afraid about the dancers themselves. The dancers know that the dance is meant to be a spectacular ceremonial happening and they won’t really hurt each other.

Make your way to Wae Rebo village
During your stay on Flores, you have to go to Wae Rebo village. This village is home to the Manggarai tribe. These people live in a special way which you have to see. The villagers live in primitive cottages which have an extraordinary appearance. The roofs of the cottages are shaped into tipi tents. The villagers will be more than happy to show you their way of living and this is unique to see as a tourist, cause you won’t see this in another part in Indonesia.

Enter the spider lair in Cancar
With spider lair, we don’t mean a real spider lair. In Cancar, you’ll see a pattern of a spider lair in the rice plantations. This is a beautiful sight to see and a pity to be missed during your stay on Flores. During your visit to the rice plantations, you have to encounter with the owners who are happy to welcome you. The farmers will explain you that the weightiness of the plantations will describe the wealth of the family. This is an interesting story to hear, but you have to visit the plantations for the full story.

Indonesia Culinary Experience

Visit Indonesia is not only for the beautiful sceneries and cultural richness. It is also about enjoying the delicious culinary experience. You will always captivated by the various kinds of Indonesian foods in every province you visit. Indonesians eat rice as their daily meal, three times a day. Yes, three times. You might be surprise with this and wondering how Indonesian people could eat that such high carbohydrate in the morning. But that’s how we are. Most of us indeed eat a complete big meal with rice in the morning, but there are also people who choose to eat lighter meal on breakfast. The common breakfast menu in Indonesia are Nasi Goreng (Fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodle), Bubur Ayam (chicken porridge), Nasi Uduk (coconut milk rice), or Mie Ayam (chicken noodle). But in some provinces in Indonesia, they also have their own authentic breakfast menu. While eating bread or cereal in the morning is less common for Indonesians, unless the big cities residents.

Nasi Goreng Curry

Talking about lunch, we must agree with the common diet concept of big meal for lunch. And Indonesians know it so well. Even for dinner, we still able to eat rice complete with its ornaments. Lunch and dinner menu could be anything, like rice (of course), sautéed veggies, chicken/beef/fish/eggs, soup, and etc. You must have heard about Beef Rendang. It is one of Indonesian famous foods. It made of beef meat cooked in a thick coconut milk with herbs and chili. It took several hours to cook Rendang to make it soft, tender and juicy. Chicken is another favorite menu as well for Indonesians. In Bali, you can find the famous Ayam Betutu, chicken with fresh chili sambal and several kinds of ornaments to enjoy together. In Jogjakarta, you will find Nasi Gudeg – a mix rice with beef, chicken, egg, sautéed jackfruit, tempe, and sambal – display on a piece of banana leaf as your plate. Nasi Gudeg is slightly sweet. So, if you are afraid of Indonesian sambal (famous with its HOTness), you can try Nasi Gudeg.

Nasi Ayam Betutu Bali

Beef Rendang

Nasi Gudeg

Typically Indonesian Lunch

Indonesians have a motto for daily meal as “4 healthy, 5 perfect”. The 4 Healthy consist of carbohydrates main meal (rice, noodle, potato or bread), Animalic proteins (beef, chicken, fish, or egg), Veggies Vitamins, and Fruits vitamins. And number 5 is for milk. So it means if we could fulfill 4 kinds of those specified foods in our daily life, it’s good for our health and even perfect if we could drink milk as well.

So, got an idea of what food you will try once you are in Indonesia? Don’t think too much, just come and experience it yourself! ☺

Written by Fransisca Widi

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Best things to do in Chiang Rai

Chang Rai has become a famous destination among international tourism. The city is located in the jungle area in the north of Thailand. Chang Rai is well known of the beautiful Buddhism Temples, the golden triangle, flora and fauna and many more. There are also enough of hotels with different hotels which are friendly to many budgets.

Connect with your spiritual self
During your stay in Chang Rai, you have to go to the Wat Rong Khun, also known as the white temple. This temple is famous, because it’s totally covered in White. The temple was meant to be a private temple and now, it has become a must see attraction in Chang Rai. The temple is made from a concept which is different from the regular belief of Buddhism. The concepts of this temple are karma, heaven and hell.

African art in Thailand
If you want to see something what is totally different than you’ve seen before in the country, you have to go to the black house museum in Thailand. The museum exists out of 40 houses which are filled with extraordinary art. It is also good to know that some buildings are off limits for tourists .The artist makes use of animals and his pieces have an African twist.

Go to the golden triangle
The golden triangle is the border of Thailand. If you want to go to the to the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, you’ll have a view over Laos and Myanmar. This view is among many tourists an extraordinary sight to see and a must visit during your stay in Chang Rai. The border is formed by 2 rivers which are the Nam Ruak river and the Mekong river.

Spent your day with your family
Singha Park is a family friendly park with many activities like zip lining, climbing, cycling doing an adventure rope course, and many more. There are also several events organised by the authorities of the park such as hot air balloon events, mountain events, farming events and many more. There is always music during the events and they are categorized in festival, sport and exhibition events.

Art in the open air
The Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park has the biggest collection of art of the whole north of Thailand. The park is also a very good place to buy some souvenirs due to all the Thai residence which sell their handmade art crafts. By buying the art crafts, the Thai Hill Crafts Foundation helps to preserve the traditional skills and they support the ethnic minorities living in the north of Thailand.

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Best things to do in Labun Bajo

Labun Bajo is a small village on the island of Flores. This place is famous for its Komodo dragons, wonderful underwater world and friendly citizens. Many people fall in love with Labun Bajo because of its natural charm and friendly citizens. Are you already interested in this beautiful destination? Keep reading and be amazed by Labun Bajo.

Trek your way through Komodo Forest
Are you looking for an adventure? Then stop looking and go to Komodo Forest. During one of these tours, you will be guided by an ranger who will bring you to the Komodo Dragons. The Komodo dragon as the biggest lizard in the world and that’s also the reason why Labun Bajo is so famous. You will trek your way through the forest, where you will see the beauty of nature itself and during your trek, you’ll also see the fearless Komodo Dragon which can get a length of 4 to 5 meter.

Want to see 3 different beaches in 1 day
Go to Padar island where you’ll see 3 different beaches in just 1 day. The beaches are famous as a view point at Komodo Island. That’s because of its 3 different beaches which has al a different colour. One of the beaches is pink, one of them is white and one of them is black. This is a wonderful sight to see and you even get the chance to see the Komodo Dragons, but be aware that the dragons like to be in the shade and that you are not allowed to come near the Komodo Dragons. The best time to climb Padar island is in the early morning due to the temperature.

Dive everywhere you can
Komodo National park is a group of islands which is famous for its biodiversity underwater. Everywhere in Komodo National park is a good place to dive where you can see a lot of the underwater world. There is even the possibility to swim with manta rays at Komodo National park. Have you ever done that? At the same spot, you can also swim with sea turtles which is and extraordinary experience which you have to do during your stay in Labun Bajo.

Go to the fish market for freshly caught fish
Every morning, the fishermen of Labun Bajo fern the see to catch fish to sell at the fish market. The fish they sell is full of flavour and that’s why you have to taste this during your stay in Labun Bajo. The market is also a nice opportunity to meet different people due to the extraordinary mix of visitors of the market. The people who visit the market are expats, backpackers and locals. This is something you don’t see a lot of times happening and that’s why the market is a good place to visit.

Explorer the cave of Batu Cermin
Do you stay in Labun Bajo, but you don’t want to go too far away from the village? Then you should go to Bato Cermin cave. The name of the cave is “Batu Cermin” cave which means Mirror Cave in English. The reason why this cave is called the mirror cave is because, this cave is filled with crystals which shine bright in the morning sun, so you have to be in the cave between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. The cave is located in a natural canyon which for you is a wonderful sight to see.

Indonesia’s Beautiful Underwater

Indonesia consists of 36% of main land and islands, and 64% of sea. So, besides having a range of beautiful landscapes and volcanoes, Indonesia also has countless water resources and underwater beauties. Not to mention the beautiful beaches stretch along the country, for Indonesia is the biggest archipelago country in the world.

As an Indonesian, I am aware that my country is an epicenter of biodiversity, hosting a greater variety of marine life than anywhere else on earth. Having bunch of dive sites throughout the archipelago, Indonesia provides many kinds of diving style to try. From challenging drift diving, extensive reef diving, amazing night diving, unique muck diving, and stunning steep walls to enjoy. This fact makes me curious of knowing more of the underwater world and decided to take a diving license to explore deeper and longer.

And once I saw how underwater world looks like, I never stop craving for more dives in my life. Since I live in a beautiful Bali island, which surrounded by some popular dives area, I usually go for a dive trip every few months. Tulamben, Amed, Padang Bai, and Menjangan Island are the perfect option for recreational dive as well for beginner divers. For the adventure seekers and big fish lovers, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida Island in Bali or small islands in south west Lombok are the answer. So far, my favorite dive sites are Tulamben with its Ship Wreck and Nusa Penida with its Manta Point. Diving with some Manta Rays surrounds me gives a special sensation and makes me more grateful for a chance to see such a beautiful giant fish yet friendly.

Fransisca dives in Tulamben Coral Garden

When I’m not diving, snorkeling and skin diving are my other water activities. With its pristine water, Bali and Lombok offer the easiest way to enjoy the underwater. You can get in a glass bottom boat, and enjoy the trip to the snorkeling spot by watching the underwater life beneath your feet.

Of course Bali and Lombok are not the only underwater paradise in Indonesia. There are a lot more destinations that have different beauty to offer. East Indonesia is famous with its underwater heaven. From Karimun islands in East Java, Wakatobi islands in Celebes, Mollucas islands, Nusa Tenggara islands, until the famous Raja Ampat in West Papua islands. Not to mention, underwater of Weh island in the very west of Indonesia also surprisingly beautiful. All of them offer you the stunning underwater experience that you will never forget.

Spare your time to enjoy the sea and underwater when you visit Indonesia. If you want to peep a bit of underwater beauty, take a snorkeling tour. By floating with mask and snorkel, you already can see the corals and colorful fish decorating the underwater world. If you are curious what lies down there and want to explore deeper, take a diving lesson to get a license. Or if you only have limited time, join in a Discover Scuba Diving trip. It allows you to dive up to 12 meters without holding the license. And trust me, once you get down there and see the underwater beauty, you will never see the world in the same way you see it before!

 

So, ready to see the other world under the water? Grab your google, snorkel, and fins! And let’s enjoy the underwater heaven of Indonesia.

 

 

Written by Fransisca Widi

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Best things to do in Hua Hin

Hua Hin is a perfect destination for couples and families to go on holiday. The city is located at the shore and there are many tourists attractions in the city and surrounding area. Furthermore, Hua Hin Has many accommodations, because the city was hundreds of years ago a holiday destination for the Thai Royals. Hua Hin is also not too far away from Bangkok, so when you want to escape the crowded city, you can go easily to Hua Hin.

Relax at the beach
Hua Hin has a wide beach which is visited by many tourists. This beach is clean and pleasant for families with young children, has many restaurants at the shoreline and during the weekdays, this beach is not too crowded. There are also many sun beds to get a nice tan during your day the beach. Furthermore, there many activities you can do during your day at the beach like jet-skiing, water-skiing, kiteboarding and horse riding.

Fun an Vana Nava Waterpark
If you get enough of the beach, don’t worry. There’s also an enormous waterpark which has many different pools and waterslides. A fun fact to know is that this waterpark is an ecologic waterpark. There is also a big variety of flora and fauna, because there are 2000 different plants and trees which grow over the whole of Thailand planted at the waterpark. Due to this wide variety of flora and fauna, this park is also named “Vana Nava Jungle”. The park is friendly for all ages. If you want to have a relaxing day or a day full of aqua fun, the park is a decent place to go.

Travel back in time to Plearn Wan Shopping Village
Travel back in time to the 50s. When you go to Plearn Wan Shopping Village. Parents enjoy their visit to the village and teenagers can learn a few things from the past. The village exists from a wooden complex with 2 levels. In this complex, you’ll find many vintage shops from the 50s. all those shops are covered movie-star and fashion magazine posters from the past. You’ll also hear music from the 50s-60s throughout the whole complex. The complex also offers many vintage accommodations which are an experience to stay for the night.

Hole in one in Hua Hin
Hua Hi has 3 big greens which are in use for golfing, these greens have all one of the if not the lowest fees to play in the whole world. The 3 courses are The Royal Hua Hin, Black Mountain and the Banyan Golf Course. All the courses have 18 or more holes, so you aren’t done with the courses that quickly. All the courses have a restaurant where you can go for lunch of dinner.

Khao Takiab “the spiritual monastery”
Visit Khao Takiab and experience the spiritual side of Hua Hin. The mountain is a spiritual monastery for many monks within the Buddhism religion. Monks goes to this place to pay their respect for the gods by praying. While traveling to the monastery on the mountain, you’ll see monkeys. These monkeys are also called “the carb-eating macaques” and they are an attraction to see by themselves. Be aware that these monkeys are wild monkeys and you have to make sure that you hide your shimmering personal belongings.

A typical drink in Hanoi – “Cà phê Trứng”

As a coffee lover, I have tried to many different kind of coffee all over the world however the best one in my mind and I did not choice any second throughts in my favorist drink list, it is Egg Coffee.

An Egg Coffee ( cà phê trứng) is a Vietnamsese drink which is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, surgar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee. The dink is made by beating egg yolks with sugar and coffee, then extracting the coffee into the half of the cup, followed by a similar amount of egg cream, which is prepared by heating and beating the yolks. The cup is served inside a bowl of hot water to retain its temprature. You can find a noumerouse of coffee when visit Hanoi especially in Oldquater but the most famouse coffee I prefer and would like to recommend is Ca Phe Giang.

It is not a huge café, mordern and fancy like the ones that are popping out the street of Hanoi. You can fell the atmosphere of home and cozy when you are here. It is quite difficulty locating it since the place is hidden small lane on Nguyen Huu Huan Street in the city Old quarter. It is a narrow path getting inside the café. The lights were a bit dim, it was really a family owned café and not really the classy type.

You should really try this Egg coffee at least once in your life. It was a really good experience. Depend on your wish, you can chose either hot coffee or coffee with ice. Ice coffee is very frothy and smooth while hot egg coffeee is tick, creamy and sweet. Why don’t you try at both ?

Although there is a list of another drinks, egg coffee can be calles as the best one and become the best choice for Hanoi street food list. In fact, I can drink few more cups of egg coffee but I don’t want to keep myself a wake during that night!You should really try this egg coffe at least once in there life, it was a really good expereince.

 

Giảng Cà Phê

Ad: 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Việtnam

Opening hours: 7.00AM – 10.30AM

Tel: +84 9889892298

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Best things to do in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is the third largest province in Thailand. The province has a lot of various landscapes. There are many mountains and there are flowing 2 main rivers through the province. Those rivers are the river Kwai Yai and the river Kway Noi. The province has also a dark history during WW2. Due to the war, there are many museums which commemorate the events that took place. There are also many rainforests and waterfalls to discover which will amaze you.

Pay your respect to the fallen ones
The Kanchanaburi war cemetery is a memorial for WW2. The people who have fought during the war are buried on this cemetery. Here you’ll find the graves of 5085 Thai fallen soldiers and 1896 Dutch fallen soldiers who gave their life for others to have a live a life of freedom. There is also a smaller cemetery where war soldiers are buried. This war cemetery is the Chungkai war cemetery and here, you’ll find the graves 1426 Thai fallen soldiers and 313 Dutch fallen soldiers. Both cemeteries are memorial sights.

Watch the rescued elephants
Elephant World Sanctuary is a non-profit organization where you’ll see elephants who have been cared for due to a handicap, sickness, abuse and many other horrible things. Here, you can gather food for the elephants, so you can help them. Furthermore, it’s also possible to stay for the night at the sanctuary.

Travel over the river Kwai
The steel bridge over the river Kwai is one of the most important landmarks of Thailand. The bridge is well-known for the battle during WW2 and several movies which show the events during the war. The damaged bridge was renovated after WW2 in 1946 and nowadays, it’s possible to walk over the bridge. The bridge is also still used for train rides so by passers who want to walk over the bridge have to be careful for trains

Temple visit in Kanchanaburi
The temples of Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi are twin temples which are located on a mountain which have a view over Mae Klong Hill. The temples are actually twin temples, but the temples are very different from one another. The Wat Tham Sua is built in Buddhism style while the Wat Tham Khao Noi. Both the temples are not connected to each other, so it will challenge you reach both the temples.

Cool down at the waterfall
Go to the Say Yok Noi waterfall and see the true beauty of nature. When you visit the waterfall, you’ll see an enormous rock formation. This rock formation is 15 metres high and is all covered by flowing water of the waterfall. The area of the waterfall has also an immense biodiversity of birds and mammal. The waterfall is also home to the world’s smallest mammal “the Kittes Hog-nosed Bat”. Furthermore, there are also several caves in the surrounding area which you can explorer.