The Kuang Si Waterfall is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Laos. That said, Laos isn’t yet overrun by tourists like its neighbour Thailand, for example. Its nature is absolutely dazzling though, and the Kuang Si Waterfall is an excellent illustration of that. Get ready to book your ticket!
In this post we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting the stunning Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang.
When to visit the Kuang Si Waterfall
The best time for you to visit the Kuang Si Waterfall depends on what you want from it. Do you want the place to yourself or do you hate getting up early? Do you want to see an impressive waterfall or stunning turquoise water?
Here’s what type of waterfall you’ll get to see during which time of the year, so you can decide for yourself when you want to go.
During dry season
During the dry season, from December to April, the water settles down and gets a stunning turquoise colour. The water flows over the limestone rocks more slowly, collecting limestone particles that reflect the light, giving the water that remarkable colour. It’s the busier season though, and you risk visiting on a day when hardly any water comes down the Kuang Si Waterfall.
During rainy season
During the rainy season on the other hand, from May to November, there is more water coming down the waterfall, making it more impressive. It’s the calmer season when it comes to tourists, but you risk visiting the Kuang Si Waterfall when brown water gushes over the edge and the paths are flooded. Flo from Yoga Wine Travel visited on a day like that, as you can see and read in her post about visiting the Kuang Si Waterfall during rainy season.
You can be lucky when visiting the Kuang Si Waterfall during rainy season as well though, like that day in August 2017 when we were there. The waterfall was impressive, with lots of water coming down, but the water was still pretty turquoise. Not like the photos we’d seen beforehand, but still gorgeous.
Go in the morning
I take it everyone prefers visiting places that aren’t too crowded with other tourists. Our advice: visit the Kuang Si Waterfall in the morning. The earlier the less tourists of course, but when we arrived somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 in the morning there were just a couple of other people there. At about 13:00 however, it was pretty crowded, with lots of people swimming in the ice cold water. No taking photos without people in it then! Do note that we visited in rainy season.
How to get to the Kuang Si Waterfall
The Kuang Si Waterfall is situated southwest of Luang Prabang, at 29 km from the city centre. There are several options to get there. You can rent a motorbike, take a tuk-tuk or boat, book a mini bus or even an entire day trip. Different options can be the cheapest, depending on how big your group is.
We, as a couple, decided to rent a motorbike for the day. Mr Bill from Khoum Xieng Thong Boutique Villa, where we stayed, arranged a motorbike with 2 helmets for us, costing us 120,000 kip for a day. That’s about €12 or US$14.50, without gas. We filled up our tank once, for 16,000 kip. Parking your motorbike near the Kuang Si Waterfall will cost you 2,000 kip.
The drive from our guest house to the car park near the entrance of the Kuang Si Waterfall took us just over an hour. That includes a stop to fill our tank and a couple of stops to take some photos.
From the moment you turn right, away from the main road of Luang Prabang, you’re leaving the city and heading into the green. You’ll drive through rice fields and small villages, and along forests. There’s lots of green and not many cars or other motorbikes. That’s why we’d recommend to rent a motorbike, so you can enjoy to ride over there in your own time.
Before you get to the Kuang Si Waterfall
A visit to the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang isn’t free, but a 20,000 kip (about €2 or US$2.40) entrance fee isn’t expensive either. We guarantee it’s worth your money!
After receiving your ticket you can enter the park. The walking path leading to the Kuang Si Waterfall is marked clearly. Before getting there though, you’ll first pass through the Bear Rescue Centre. Moon bears that are rescued from poachers and hunters are being cared for here. Apparently their bile can be used for all kinds of medicines, but luckily there are cruelty-free alternatives now. You can donate to the sanctuary or just watch these furry animals play, cuddle or fight (not sure what they were doing).
After watching them do their thing for a while, we continued along the path to the waterfall. Before reaching the majestic Kuang Si Waterfall, you’ll pass several small waterfalls and terraced pools. It’s clearly marked where you’re allowed to swim and where not. Be prepared though: the water is very cold. Public toilets and changing rooms can be found on several spots along the water.
The stunning Kuang Si Waterfall
By 11:35 we were getting to the best part of our day trip: the Kuang Si Waterfall itself. The water drops a whopping 50 meters into another turquoise pool. There’s a bridge over the water, where you can feel the drizzle from the roaring waterfall. Great spot for a selfie as well.
On either side of the bridge is a path leading up to the top of the Kuang Si Waterfall. The path on the left side is the easier one, with steps facilitating your climb or descent. The path on the right side is the harder one, without steps or handrails, requiring you to literally climb a bit at certain points.
If you want to do both paths, we recommend climbing up the right side and coming down the left side, as we did. The paths can become slippery when wet, and climbing steep parts is easier than descending them. It’s best to wear decent shoes or sandals when doing so, not flip-flops.
Brecht read about a secret pool on the right side of the Kuang Si Waterfall, and was determined to find it. So, as instructed in those blog posts, we ignored the first “no entry” sign on our left. Unfortunately we hit a blockage that I didn’t feel like climbing over. No secret pool for us.
Anyway, when you make it to the top of the Kuang Si Waterfall, you’ll be rewarded with a nice view and a couple of natural pools with a rope swing. The water is very cold, almost icy, so we didn’t stick around for too long. In total, it took us about 75 minutes to get from the foot of the Kuang Si Waterfall to the top and back down.
Where to eat near the Kuang Si Waterfall
After all that climbing we were getting hungry. Luckily there’s a restaurant, called Kuang Si Green Restaurant, with a nice view of one of the small waterfalls. The food was actually pretty good, even though the stir fried cashew nut with chicken was way too spicy for me. Weird, because normally the red curry is the spicy dish between these two. Together with a coke each, this lunch cost us 115,000 kip. If you want to pay even less, you can eat in the adjoining village outside the grounds of the Kuang Si Waterfall.
A (half) day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfall is a must do when visiting Luang Prabang in Laos. Not only is the waterfall gorgeous, the drive over there is beautiful as well. Bonus: it’s pretty cool along the water at the Kuang Si Waterfall, a great opportunity the escape the heat from Luang Prabang!
Have you visited the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang yet? During which season? We’d love to read about your experience in the comments!
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