Kuang Si waterfall travel guide
While we were surfing the web looking for information about Laos, our sight was drawn by fantastic pics of a multi-tiered waterfall with an incredible crystal clear water. The first thought was that we couldn’t miss this fascinating place. The waterfall, called Kuang Si or Tat Kuang Si, is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area and with no doubts, a must-see natural wonder. The water flows from the main waterfall through a tropical forest emptying a series of cascading pools before going downstream, creating a fairytale landscape that takes your breath away.
A curious fact is that the fall owes its name from a local legend. It’s said a wise old man revealed the water by digging into the earth. Then, after the water came, a golden deer made its home under a rock protruding from under the fall. That’s where the name Tat Kuang Si comes from: “Tat” means waterfall, “Kuang” means deer, and “Si” means to dig. Unfortunately, the rock is no longer visible because it fell down after an earthquake.
- WHEN TO VISIT KUANG SI WATERFALL
The best time to visit Kuang Si waterfall and Laos, in general, is from December to April during the dry season. This period is also the peak season; therefore, be ready to share this natural beauty with hundreds of tourists. The waterfall flows year-round, but you’ll find less water volume from March to May whereas high water volume around June to October.
- HOW TO GET TO KUANG SI WATERFALL
Kuang Si waterfall is located 30 km away from Luang Prabang, and to get there is easy. The landscape along the road is very scenic since you’ll pass by rice paddies, local villages and green hills.
Means of transport to Kuang Si waterfall
Tuk Tuk: you can pick up a tuk-tuk from Luang Prabang centre, especially along the road facing the Mekong river. They depart anytime and cost around 60.000 Kip (USD 6) for a shared ride (5-6 people). The fare usually includes the round trip to the waterfall, but make sure to ask beforehand. As you share the mean of transport with other tourists, you all have to decide together at what hour to return back to the city.
If you want to hire the tuk-tuk only for yourself, the cost is around 250.000 Kip (USD 25). The ride takes about 1 hour. In general, hiring a private mean of transport is the best option because you can go and return whenever you want to. A ride on a tuk-tuk is cheap but uncomfortable above all because of the bumpy and hilly road.
Minivan: a more comfortable way to reach the falls is to book a ride with a van through the travel agencies in town (or ask your accommodation). The departure and return times are already set. The trip costs 60.000 Kip (USD 7). If you have a mid-size group of people, you can rent a private van for about 500.000 Kip (USD 55). The ride is about 45 minutes. The good thing is that you can book your minivan tickets online through the web platform klook.com too. Click here to see the schedule and book your ride.
Motorbike: even though you can rent a motorbike too to reach the fall, we don’t recommend it. The road is not smooth all the way and at some point very dusty and bumpy, and locals drive chaotically. Personally, we wouldn’t risk it. Another reason to skip it, it’s for the motorbikes scams. We heard that some rental agencies have a spare copy of the keys “to steal” the motorbike (and bike too) and ask you the refund.
Boat: a fun and exciting way to reach the falls is by boat where you can also enjoy the wild scenery of the Mekong River. The boat will take you close to the waterfall where you need to take a pick up truck to reach Kuang Si entrance gate. A few tour operators like Bananaboat Laos and Laos Group tours offer the boat tour to Kuang Si.
A good option is to book a private/shared tour with one of the web platforms like Viator.com, GetyourGuide.com and Klook.com that always offer a great choice of activities managed by the local agencies.
- OPENING TIME AND ENTRANCE FEE
The waterfall is open from 8 am to 5.30 pm, and the entrance fee is 20,000 Kip (USD 2.50).
- HOW TO VISIT KUANG SI WATERFALL
When you arrive at Kuang Si waterfall park, the first thing you’ll see before entering the entrance gate and get your ticket is a large market with stands selling souvenir, handicrafts, street food and some small restaurants. After paying the entrance fee, leaving the main tarred road, take the footpath on your right. If you go straight, you’ll immediately reach the main fall missing the most beautiful part of the hiking. Walking through the dense forest and its incredible vegetation, you’ll first reach the Bear Rescue Centre where the rangers look after of these wild animals endangered with extinction.
Going on upstream, step by step you’ll start feeling like in a fairy tale, surrounded by lush, dense vegetation and a series of small cascades and shallow pools with incredible turquoise-blue water. Some of these pools are open to swim. At the end of the footpath is the main Kuang Si waterfall with an incredible drop of 60 metres. If you are not done yet, you can climb up the hill beside the fall to reach its top and take some spectacular pics. There is a trail that starts on your right side. The footpath along the forest is quite easy and short. From the main waterfall, you can go back to the entrance gate through the same way or walking on the main tarred road.
The Bear Rescue Centre
The rangers of this “Asian bear sanctuary” look after many Asiatic black bears rescued from poachers and illegal wildlife trade. Here, from a viewing platform, you can observe these amazing animals play and search for food. To support the centre, you can buy a T-shirt or make a donation.
The pools and cascades upstream
The water flows over many limestone rocks, creating a series of shallow pools and cascades with an incredible colour that will leave you speechless. The emerald-blue colour of the pools is due to the limestone particles that contain a high concentration of minerals like copper that once dissolved into the water reflect the light creating a stunning effect. The scenery is breathtaking. We have seen many parks with waterfalls, but Kuang Si is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. The place is also a paradise for photography lovers. We brought a tripod and an ND filter to take some shots to the waterfalls with the silk effect, and the result was terrific.
Swimming at Kuang Si waterfall
Remember to bring your swimsuit and a towel as some of the natural pools are open for swimming. If you like warm pools, probably is not the right place for a swim because the water is quite cold. The last pool you meet before reaching the main fall is the largest and the best for swimming, but it’s also the most crowded. Here, you’ll find some jumping point but be careful and always check the deep of the water. Also, pay attention to the surrounding rocks that can be very slippery. For respect to the local customs, it’s not allowed to walk around with the shirt off, and when you cool off in the pools, bikini or other revealing swimsuits are not too well seen.
The main Kuang Si waterfall
The main Kuang Si waterfall is the last stop of your hike. The fall is the biggest in the Luang Prabang with a drop of 60 metres. Here, it’s not allowed to swim, but you can enjoy the fall from a small wooden bridge. On your left, you’ll find a picnic area and on your right a path that leads on the top of the fall and from where you can enjoy a spectacular view.
If you are travelling with a private mean of transport, it’s worth stopping at the Butterfly Park, located not far from the Kuang Si entrance gate along the road (about 300mt). It’s a project started in 2014 by a Dutch couple and consist of a forest walk where you can see and learn about the different species of Lao butterflies and host plants. Ended your visit, there is a cafe-bar where you can relax and have a drink. The entrance fee is 4 USD.
- HOW LONG TO STAY THERE
Even though the footpath is not so long, you’ll get kidnapped 100% by this natural wonder and the time will fly away very quickly. We suggest staying about 2-3 hours to enjoy the park and have a swim in the pools.
- WHERE TO SLEEP NEAR THE KUANG SI WATERFALL
In case you’d like to sleep next to the falls, not far from the entrance gate you’ll find Vanvisa at the falls Resort and Aongly Guesthouse.
Have you visited the Kuang si waterfall? Did you like it and you have tips to share? Leave a comment below!