Find out absolutely everything you need to know about visiting Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang. Learn about how to get there, what to do, entry fees, where to stay, and more!
Kuang Si Falls is a must visit when you are in Luang Prabang. To be honest this impressive waterfall actually is the reason I first visited Laos. After seeing numerous photos I knew I had to see this place in person. Though Laos does have plenty of other things to offer and many other waterfalls. Seeing Kaung Si Falls for the first time is sure to take your breath away.
This is a popular place with all types of travelers. Everyone loves to see the beautiful turquoise waters flowing down between each of the pools. It’s a very tranquil setting and the perfect place for a swim. Though there are certainly some things you need to know for visiting Kuang Si Falls to make the most out of your visit. There are also certain times of the year where the flowing waters turn an interesting shade of brown, a far cry from those famous pictures you see online.
So read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting Kuang Si Falls. This includes the entry fee, opening hours, what season to visit, and some of the best things to see there. Strap yourself in as we check out one of the best things to do in Luang Prabang, and possibly even the whole country of Laos. This place is incredible!
Kuang Si Falls In Luang Prabang: Why You NEED To Visit
- What Makes Kuang Si Falls So Great
- Kuang Si Falls Entry Fee
- Kuang Si Falls Opening Hours
- Getting To Kuang Si Falls
- When To Visit Kuang Si Waterfall
- Swim In The Lower Pools
- Admire The Main Falls
- Hike To The Top
- The Secret Pool At Kuang Si Falls
- Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
- Dining At Kuang Si Falls
- What To Pack For Kuang Si Falls
How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia
What Makes Kuang Si Falls So Great
Kuang Si Falls is honestly unlike any waterfall I have ever seen before. The beautiful turquoise flowing waters make it unique to the rest of the waterfalls in Laos and many others around Southeast Asia. This has resulted in it becoming quite the Instagram hotspot. Though I have visited twice, a few years apart, and this place barely changed which is part of its beauty.
The bright blue color of the water is due to the fact that it flows over so many limestone rocks on its journey. Splashing down the main waterfall 50-meter drop and then down the cascades it picks up the limestone particles. These particles contain high levels of calcium carbonate. This mineral is known for reflecting light, resulting in incredible blue waters.
Lastly, what I really enjoy about Kuang Si Falls is that even though the carpark may be full of cars and vans the falls do not seem overly crowded. This is thanks to the fact it is spread out over lunch a large area with various highlights spreading out the daily visitors.
Kuang Si Falls Entry Fee
The entry fee into Kuang Si Falls is 20,000 LAK or $2.10.
You are best to pay this in cash. Depending on the way you decide to get to Kuang Si Falls you may find that you’ll actually pay the driver the entrance fee, rather than paying on arrival.
Kuang Si Falls Opening Hours
Kuang Si Falls is open every day from 8am to 5.30pm.
Getting to Kuang Si Falls
There use to only be two main options on how to travel to Kuang Si Falls. Though due to its popularity there is now a wide range of transportation options you can choose from. I will list them and explain all the details so you can make the choice that works best with your plans.
Hiring A Scooter
The amount of scooter crashed I have seen in Luang Prabang is kind of crazy. Nevertheless, I would honestly only recommend hiring a scooter to travel to Kuang Si Falls if you have driven one before.
The road between the city and the waterfall is a lot better than it used to be in the day. There is now actually a lot of infrastructure going up on the route. Though the roads are still windy and relatively rural so it probably wouldn’t be the best place to fall off. Just make sure you dress appropriately, have covered in shoes, and wear a helmet. No one wants to come home with a road rash souvenir.
Though if you are keen on a bit of an adventure why not go for it. Just be prepared for dirt, crazy drivers, and potholes. Parking your motorbike once you reach the falls will cost about $0.25.
You will also want to make sure you hire your motorbike or scooter from a reputable company. A quick google search will bring up a couple of options. Unfortunately, motorbike scams are common in Laos so make sure you do your research first. You can expect to pay around $20.00 per day for hiring your scooter. It’s a lot more pricey here in Laos than in other countries in Southeast Asia.
By Shared Tuk Tuk
Taking a shared tuk-tuk used to be the most popular way to get to Kuang Si Falls. This is the way the majority of blogs tell you is best to get there. Just head to the main square in the city center, where the night markets start and find some other travelers going the same direction. Though unfortunately on my most recent visit I went to do the same thing, it turns out this isn’t a common option anymore.
What exactly is the new way to get to Kuang Si Falls I will cover below. Though I am sure it is still possible to travel in a shared tuk-tuk you may just be waiting quite a while to find other travelers to share with. The tuk-tuks in Laos are basically just pick up trucks which legally can only fit six people in, but drivers will squish in more. It’ll still be super easy to find tuk-tuks hanging around. Though, it may be a lot harder to find one which will give you a decent price. If you find enough people the driver should charge somewhere between $3.50-$6.00 each.
On our first trip to Laos in 2017, we were desperate to see Kuang Si Falls. After leaving our beautiful hotel, called Phanhthasone Guesthouse, we found a group of people in the middle of the town and a driver who was willing to charge $6 each for a return trip, entry fee, and four hours exploring the waterfalls. As there were more drivers wanting to take us to the falls than there were people wanting to visit, so we used this to our advantage to get a decent price.
We went to do the same as above on my most recent trip, thinking it was still the norm but turns out it is not.
By Private Tuk Tuk
Alternatively, you can hire a private tuk-tuk for around $20.00 – $25.00 with some haggling. This is perfect if you do not want to be limited by the amount of time you spend at the waterfalls. Also if you are wanting to visit pretty early to avoid the crowds this is the best option for you. The driver will happily chill about waiting until you are ready to head back into town.
There is no need to pre-organize a private tuk-tuk. Just wait until the day then head to the main city square where the night market is located. Here you will find plenty of tuk-tuks available.
It is expected to haggle for the cost. Though remember this is the driver’s livelihood so don’t get overly into it that you end up ripping them off.
Now you know how I said taking a shared tuk-tuk is no longer the most popular and easiest way to travel? Well, that title now goes to taking a shared minivan. While waiting 20 minutes for some other travelers to show up the join our shared tuk-tuk adventure we must’ve been approached by at least 6 different minivan drivers offering us to come in their van.
After realizing we would be standing there a little bit too long and we hoped for we jumped into the next minivan that asked. These minivan journeys are obviously put together by hotels and travel agencies which signage covers the streets. Prices generally start at around $7.00 to $12.00.
I guess this easier form of transportation has replaced the old-school authentic tuk-tuks. I mean we were still squashed into a van. Though the one bonus is that at least there was air conditioning. Arriving at the Kuang Si Falls it was obviously know times had changed in just a couple of years. A carpark that was once covered in tuk-tuks now was full of white minivans.
The only thing to be aware of when booking a minivan is that you will be restricted to the amount of time you actually get to spend at the falls depending on the other people you are traveling with. Unfortunately, someone in our van had to be at the airport in 3 hours, meaning we had less than 2 hours to explore the falls. Though that person decided not to say anything to the driver until we arrived and had no choice. The standard time for many of the tours is 4 hours.
I think next time I visit Kuang Si Falls I would love to do so by boat. This is a lot more of an exciting way to travel than just being squished into the back of a minivan.
By boat, it takes approximately one hour to get downriver to as close as it can to the falls turn off. You will venture down past mountains and by the suburban jungle and into the countryside. Once it is as close as it can get a tuk-tuk will take you the remaining way to the car park of the waterfalls.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in there are surprisingly many different tours you can choose from. Be aware that this option is a bit more expensive than just booking your general minivan transport. Though this is much more of an experience than just a simple journey.
Tiger Trail offers a bicycle and longtail boat tour of Kuang Si Falls. On this, you will cycle to the falls, spend a few hours exploring the beauty, and then enjoy a relaxed boat ride back to the city center. There are also heaps of choices on Get Your Guide so I highly recommend checking them out.
This is the perfect choice for those travelers who enjoy and adventure and have a pretty damn good fitness level. Aka not me. It is a 30-kilometer journey from the city center of Luang Prabang. The roads are a lot busier in recent years and have improved a lot having been resealed. Though they still have plenty of potholes.
If you decide to do this journey please bring plenty of water with you. The heat of the Laos sun can make it seem hotter and longer. Though when you have arrived at Kuang Si Falls there is plenty of spots to cool off with a refreshing swim.
You can easily hire bicycles around town for around $2.00 or $3.00 per day. If you decide to do this journey make sure you test out the bike well as there is nothing worse than breaking down.
When To Visit Kuang Si Waterfall
Depending on what time of year, as well as what time of day you visit Kaung Si Falls can really make or break your visit. You may find the tranquil blue waters have turned an interested shade of brown and have become rushing rapids.
The is the most important thing to figure out whether it will be worth adding Kuang Si Waterfall to your Luang Prabang itinerary. Depending on the season you visit will result in how the falls will look.
December to May: December through to May is the best time of year to visit Kuang Si Falls. This is considered the dry season. Though unlike the name suggests you won’t find the falls dried out to a trickle. Instead, they will be slowly flowing down the cascading waterfalls in all their blue beauty. This is exactly when all those incredible Instagram and Pinterest photos have been taken, mine included. Though the one downside is that this is the peak season for travelers, both local and domestic.
June to October: This is known as the monsoon season in Laos and all over Southeast Asia. The heavy monsoon rain cause havoc over the region during this time of year. Roads are typically closed due to unsafe conditions and towns can quickly become flooded. During this time is when Kuang Si Falls turns brown and the water becomes rapids. It is not safe to swim during these conditions thanks to the rapids which can quickly push you downstream. You also won’t be able to hike to the top due to the muddy conditions making it way too slippery.
Time Of Day
As with the majority of tourist hot spots, you’ll want to visit Kuang Si Falls early. This will allow you to beat the crowds. There are vans ushering tourists back and forth throughout the majority of the day. Though these typically start arriving at the falls around 11am. Visiting before this hour will ensure you can have a relaxed experience. This will also allow you to get those freakin awesome photos without anybody ruining your shot.
If you visit during the weekday rather than on a weekend you will also find it a little quieter. This is when the majority of domestic travelers are at work or at school. So you will find it is just generally international travelers during this time.
Swim In The Lower Pools
The lower pools are where you can swim at Kuang Si Falls. Further up the lower pools, the fewer people there will be. I am not sure whether people don’t actually know that it gets better the further up they walk, or perhaps they can’t be bothered, but the majority seem to stay at the lower portion. Here is where you will find changing rooms as well so you don’t have to stress about awkwardly trying to change with a towel wrapped around you.
There are numerous jumping points from trees and rocks, just make sure to double-check the depth to avoid getting injured. There are no lifeguards to help you if something happens. Though, you will know which pools you can jump into as it is well sign written. So please don’t ignore these rules. Some are also concerned sacred by locals which is why they ask travelers not to swim in them.
The water itself is quite chilly, providing the perfect relief from the hot Laos temperatures. While swimming little fish will come up and started nibbling on your feet. They are like the ones at a fish spas. Can’t complain about free foot treatments.
Admire The Main Falls
Further up the path, you will find the main waterfall. Trust me it is hard to miss and extremely beautiful. This is the point where your jaw drops in amazement. Appreciate the beauty from the bridge that stretches out front of it. Located over the main pool it allows you to see it from either side. There are also two viewpoints on either side of the bridge allowing you to take some epic photos and appreciate these crazy views.
Unfortunately, you are not able to swim in the main waterfall. I could just imagine how dangerous this would be as the water looked deep with a strong current. The waterfall is three tiers and you can access both the top tier and middle tier aka the secret pool through a very steep hike up through the Laotian jungle. Though I will get into the secret pool a bit further down in this guide.
Hike To The Top
Continuing the hike up the waterfall is not for the faint-hearted, especially when it can be so hot. It is extremely steep, the ground is uneven and covered with tree roots. If it has rained recently you will find the path can be quite muddy as well.
It is easy to tell this climb is a challenge by comparing the number of people at the top with the massive number of tourists below. Seriously there were maybe ten people at the top while I was visiting!
The easiest way to get up is by climbing up the left-hand side when facing towards the pools. This is signposted so you shouldn’t miss it.
Unlike the lower pools, at the top, the pools are not as bright of gorgeous blue color. This may be due to all the shade up there. Though, there is an awesome viewpoint that looks right over the Laotian jungle. There are also some swings and to get across you have to balance on bamboo lengths tied together.
To get down continue to follow the path to the other side of the waterfall and you will see a track that descends. Just like the walk up the walk down is equally as difficult. I may have fallen over a few times. Remember to watch your footing!
Be aware that if you are short on time I recommend going for a swim in one of the lower pools instead of hiking to the top. As awesome of a view is at the top, it is a lot more refreshing and more of a memorable experience taking a dip in these gorgeous blue waters.
The Secret Pool at Kuang Si Falls
If you continue right along the bridge and into the jungle you will come across a very steep path/climb. We had to take our shoes off as it was just so slippery to climb up. Though, about halfway to the top, there are two options. Continue on the path up or to go left towards the ‘do not enter’ sign and bamboo fenced-off path. To get to the secret pool you need to ignore all warning signs and jump over that. I personally did not do it myself, though you can read Nomadic Matts adventure on exploring the secret pool.
Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
Before you get to the actual waterfall part of Kuang Si Falls you will come across the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. This sanctuary is not funded by the government, rather by an Australian charity. Many of the bears had been rescued from poachers as their bile is used in Chinese medicine. It is also not a zoo.
Here you will find over 20 Asiatic Black Bears that have been rescued. They have escaped a horrendous fate and now find themselves living here in a big enclosure with plenty of food and toys.
The bears enjoying their days lazing about while another one who happens to be missing an arm itches himself on a log. There is a viewing platform higher up which gives the perfect view over their enclosure. It is well worth supporting their conservation efforts by donating or by purchasing a souvenir tee-shirt during your visit.
Dining At Kuang Si Falls
By the time you have finished swimming, climbing, and playing at Kuang Si Falls no doubt you will be hungry or at least thirsty! In the parking lot, there are so many eatery options and plenty of juice stalls to keep you going. Though, I was certainly not brave enough to try the fish pictured!
It is reported the food here is a bit average and overpriced. Though what else do you expect from restaurants located right outside a tourist hot spot where travelers are literally dropped off by the hundreds on their doorstep. They don’t need to try! Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with a can of coke and some pringles.
What To Pack For Kuang Si Falls
There are some things its best to take along with you while visiting Kuang Si Falls to make the most out of your experience:
Camera: Of course you can’t forget the camera. This place is absolutely incredible and you will want it when you see the bright blue waters cascading down.
Go Pro: For sure bring along your Go Pro if you have one. You won’t be able to see much under the water, but you will be able to get some epic shots of yourself swimming and relaxing!
Swimmers: Yes you may not be able to swim in all the pools. But you will definitely want to bring along your swimmers so you can cool off and take a dip. There are changing rooms at Kuang Si Falls so no need to wear them under your clothes.
Towel: Bring along your towel so dry off after you have had a refreshing swim.
Sunblock: Let’s avoid looking like a lobster and bring a reef-safe sunblock along with you!
Sunglasses: It’ll definitely be worth bringing sunglasses along with you. The sun shining off the sea can be super bright so protect your eyes by bringing along a pair of sunglasses.
Where To Stay In Luang Prabang?
There are plenty of choices when it comes to choosing accommodation in Luang Prabang. From the impressive 5* resort, historic hotels, simple hostels, and locally owned guesthouses, you will find something to fit your budget and needs.
During our recent visit, we stayed on a quaint little side street that was just minutes from the city center and Mekong River. I fell in love with this little spot. There are a few budget guesthouses and nicer hotel-style accommodations available down this street. Check out Mylaohome Hotel & Spa for comfortable rooms, an awesome spa, and a delicious cafe on site from $23.00 per night. There is also Villa Pumalin which has an indoor pool and beautiful wooden rooms starting at $30.00 per night.
Here are my top picks for the backpacking Luang Prabang:
Plenty of common areas, a great vibe, and breakfast, it is well worth $6.00 per night.BOOK NOW
A relaxing location near the party, from $7.00 per night including breakfast.BOOK NOW
Beautiful private rooms from $23.00 per night and in the heart of the city.BOOK NOW
A walk from the city attractions, starting from $26.00 per night with breakfast.BOOK NOW
How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia
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