Everyone we met told us that Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang could not be missed. And for once, the reality met the expectations. This place is strikingly beautiful, and certainly not to be missed. You can swim in the turquoise water or hike to the top of the falls for a magnificent view. If you have time, you can also hike to the butterfly park where you can swim amongst thousands of colorful butterflies. This comprehensive Travel Guide to Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, has got you covered.
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A travel guide to Kuang Si falls
We first saw a stunningly beautiful picture of the falls on Facebook, and knew immediately we had to make a trip there. The place is ranked as one of the absolute best things to do whilst in Luang Prabang. And there are so many reasons for it! Adding this awe-inspiring waterfall to your itinerary in Laos, is one of the best travel decisions you will make. This place could very well be the highlight of your trip to Laos!
Location: 29km from Luang Prabang
Opening Hours: 8am to 5.30pm every day
Entrance Fee: KIP 20.000/ USD 2 per person
Best time to visit: Ideally before 10am during weekdays, earlier during weekends. This way you avoid the busloads of tourists arriving around 12pm.
Ready to open the doors to Narnia? Let’s go!
1. Check out the Kuang Si falls local market
You’ll walk past the local market next to the parking area, at the very beginning of Kuang Si Waterfalls. They sell everything from food, Beer Lao, local souvenirs, handicrafts and clothes. It´s small, but the people are lovely and the food is even better.
2. Learn about their Bear Rescue Center
There is a wonderful center operated, which is home to over 20 Asiatic Black Bears. They have all been rescued from living in cages, being transporten between farms or used for entertainment. At the Bear Rescue center in Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang, they are happy and healthy. They have large enclosures filled with pools, areas to play at, hammock etc. It´s all thanks to Free the Bears, and if you would like to contribute, you can make a donations or buy one of their t-shirts 🙂
3. Follow the trail through emerald pools
You start your trip at the lowest pool, before wandering to the top where you will find the main waterfall. However, we really enjoyed this area of the park the most. There were fewer people there, and the colors surrounding us was pure magic. We felt like we were in a fairy tale from the very beginning, with water flowing over the limestone rocks into the turquoise pools. There is this super cute bridge also, which is the perfect spot for a nice, little photo session 🙂
The closer you get to the top, the more people you will see. But at this point you don’t care. You are way to occupied soaking in the impressions from walking through and around each pool. Surrounded by tropical trees, people swimming under the falls and taking endless amount of pictures.
4. Hike to the top of the falls
If you are adventure-seekers like us, who always look for a way to travel deeper and explore areas of the beaten path, then this is perfect for you. On either side of the main waterfall there are paths leading you to the top of the cascading waterfall. Most visitors don’t venture up here, and they are definitely missing out on probably the most epic view of all – the one at the top.
TIP! Take the path on the right side of the bridge when you go up, and the one on the lift side when walking down. Its smoother, step-free and makes the hike easier.
The hike takes approximately 15-20 minutes, and isn’t too strenuous. The terrain however, might be a bit tricky as some parts are without railings, and other parts are muddy due to water flowing over the trail. The hike up is completely worth it though, and you will be rewarded with a gorgeous view, few to no other people, and small, private pools where you can cool off. There is also a love-boat leaving every 20-minutes taking you further into the lagoon for more captivating surroundings.
If you have time, it is also highly recommended by travelers to venture deeper into the forest until you reach the Butterfly Park. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for this, but apparently you can swim amongst thousands of colorful and gorgeous butterflies! How amazing is that?!
5. Swim in the turquoise water
After your hike to the top of the fall, you can return back down to the best part of your day at Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang. Yep, you guessed it! Swimming in the pools of turquoise, emerald water! The pools near the restaurant have changing rooms, and this is also the most popular pool to jump in to. There are rope swings and trees to jump from.
We decided to jump into one of the lower pools, as we had this one all to ourselves! And it was spectacular 🙂
Kindly note that there are certain areas and pools that are off limit as they are considered sacred by the local population. There are signs of “no swimming” in all of these areas.
What to bring
- Mosquito spray. There is a slight chance of Dengue Fever in Laos – better safe, than sorry 🙂
- Proper shoes. If you plan on hiking to the top of the fall, then regular flip flops won’t be your best friend trough the somewhat steep and muddy trail. We learned this the hard way.. 🙂
- Swimming gear and towel.
- Dry bag for your valuables and clothes.
- Food and drinking water. It is much more cozy to have a picnic beneath the waterfall, than to eat at the somewhat slow, average and expensive restaurant on sight 🙂
Must-do Laos: 3 days in Vang Vieng
How to get to Kuang Si Waterfalls
Kuang Si Waterfalls is located approximately 29km outside the center of Luang Prabang. It should take you a solid 45 minutes to get there, and it is surprisingly easy to get there. There are tons of transportation options for you to choose from, and there is something for every budget and adventure level.
By tuk tuk
For around USD 25, you can hire your own private tub tuk for the day. This is the perfect alternative if you wish to have more control over your own schedule. The driver will wait for you at the falls, and take you back to Luang Prabang whenever you are ready for that. Your hotel can assist you in booking a tub tuk, or you can just find one on the street and start exploring 🙂
Shared tuk tuk
The most common way to get to the falls is to join one of the shared tuk tuks. They fit 6-7 people, and the price should be around USD 5 per person if all seats are taken. Drivers will wait until they have a group ready to go, so you might risk waiting some time for other passengers. You will also have to agree on a set leaving time together with your group and driver. If you like flexibility then this might not be the choice for you 🙂
By mini van
There are shuttle services between Luang Prabang and Kuang Si Falls every day, and the tickets cost about USD 7 per person. The departure and return time are set in advance, so you might not get as many hours as you’d like. The advantage however is the price, and this is one of the most economical ways to get to the falls.
Kindly note that these shuttle buses stops at each passenger´s hotel to pick them up, so you will likely spend more than 45 minutes to get to the fall.
Private mini van
For USD 30 per day, you can hire a private car or mini van. This is by far the most comfortable option, and can be quite economical if you are a group of friends. You will also have the flexibility in deciding when to depart and return from the falls. More importantly, you will have air-condition both ways.
A 1-hour boat ride down the Mekong is probably one of the most romantic ways to get to the falls. This way of transportation will provide you with views that no car ride can. Rugged, wild mountaintops, glimpses of local life, jungle and winding trees. When your boat ride is complete, you will be picked up by a driver who will transport you to the beginning of Kuang Si Waterfalls. Sounds pretty wonderful right?
We opted for this alternative, as we are keen on doing most things independently. We paid USD 20 for a day + gas and parking at Kuang Si Falls. However, this is only recommendable if you are a skilled driver. The roads overall, are not very well maintained, and tourist motorbike accidents happens often. You therefore really need to make sure that you have calculated the risks before deciding to go for this alternative.
You also need to make sure that you hire your scooter or motorbike from a reliable agency. I would rather pay a little more for trustworthy service, than to be scammed by a dodgy agency. Also, make sure to wear helmets and proper clothing. You should never leave belongings on the bike, and always make sure that your bike is locked properly when parked.
If you can check of these boxes, then you are ready to go to Kuang Si Waterfalls on a scooter/motorbike 🙂 Have fun!
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