If you’re heading to Luang Prabang then one of the ‘must do’ activities you will see mention is a trip to the Kuang Si Waterfall around 30km south of the town. We spent a day there and thought you’d like to know what it’s all about to help you plan your visit.
How to get to Kuang Si Waterfall
First things first, how do you get there? If you are in central Luang Prabang you’ll see a trip to the falls advertised at all the tour agents, hotels and hostels so it’s easy to book on. Tours to the waterfall start from around 40,00 KIP ($5) per person or you can hire a Tuk tuk to take you there. The cost of a private Tuk tuk will depend on your negotiation skills and how many people you have going so get haggling for a good price.
Wanting to enjoy the local countryside we opted to hire a motorbike and make our own way there. It was the only time we hired a bike during our time in Laos and in-line with the higher prices compared to Thailand and Vietnam it cost 120,000 KIP ($15) for the day. It was another 15,000 KIP ($2) to fill it up with petrol at the gas station on the main road to the south of the town and away we went.
The road is easy to follow and paved all the way right up to the entrance to the Kuang Si park. You follow Highway 1 south of Luang Prabang until you reach a left hand turn off where the sign points to the waterfall, it’s around 4km from this turn.
The drive there is well worth the hire of a motorbike, we stopped along the way to get some shots of the rice fields glowing in the morning sunshine. As you get closer to the waterfall the air cools and the forest grows thicker, a welcome break from the intense heat of inland of Laos.
Watch our video of the waterfalls below and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great travel videos each week.
Bears and waterfalls
There’s plenty of parking right outside the gates to Kuang Si and it costs 2,000 KIP to park our beastly moped.
Admission into the waterfalls park costs 20,000 KIP ($2.50) per person and this includes an unexpected look at some Asian Black Bears. Right inside the entrance you will find a small rescue centre dedicated to looking after any fury fellows that have fallen victim to local poachers.
It’s a little bit sad to see these fine creatures in an enclosed area but the other option is releasing them back into the wild, injured as they are and risking them being poached again. The project gets no share of the park admission funds but you can buy a t-shirt or donate if you’d like to support the cause.
After we had walked through the rescue centre it was time to follow the waterfall trail.
The main Kuang Si waterfall is at the far end (top) of the trail but the main attraction here are all the pools it passes through on the way downstream. We opted to climb to the top first and have a dip in the cooling blue waters on the way back down. There was a great view out across the forest from the top, well worth the steep climb up.
TOP TIP: If you are going to walk up to the top of the main waterfall take the pathway to the left of it. We climbed up the right hand side and it was virtually rock climbing , very steep and slippy underfoot at times. Coming down the other side we found steps for most of the trail, silly us!
Back down at the base of the main fall we had some lunch at the only place to grab food in the park. It wasn’t great and pretty expensive so best to bring a little picnic and feast at the water’s edge. Sometimes it feels like we never learn!
Soon after it was time for a dip into the turquoise waters so we got changed in the nearby huts and cautiously waded in. It was very cool as you’d expect being a fresh stream in the shade but a welcome change to the intense daytime heat in late March.
As we visited during the dry season the falls are a little smaller than you see in the publicity shots but hopefully you can gauge the flow from the photos here, it was still pretty impressive to us.
I’d seen a few reviews and comments for the falls mentioning pervy men. When we visited there were quite a few busloads of Asian visitors on day trips who just came to have a look at the falls but not to swim. This creates the weird situation of mainly Asian men standing around taking pictures of the falls and the half naked people within.
I tried to remain open minded but I did definitely see on a few occasions blokes taking pictures of ladies in the waterfalls and when they saw me looking at them they moved away. It’s not a massive problem but depends on how you feel about this kind of thing happening, it’s certainly shouldn’t put you off visiting such a beautiful place.
Is it worth visiting Kuang Si Waterfall?
You like water? Cooling off? Forest? Nature? Beauty? Pervy men? Okay, not the last one, but yes visit and even if you don’t go for a swim it is a wonder of nature to behold. You won’t be disappointed.
Location of Kuang Si waterfalls on Google Maps: