You Have to See the Kuang Si Waterfalls to Believe Them!

By Greg Rodgers
Asia Travel Expert,

Kuang Si Falls, also known as Tat Kuang Si, are a popular attraction located around 45 minutes outside of Luang Prabang in Laos.

The turquoise water flowing over multi-tiered falls makes for spectacular photos; several pools along the cascade are a popular way to cool down on scorching days.

Details for Visiting the Falls[post_ads_2]

  • Hours: From 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
  • Entrance Fee: 20,000 Lao kip; young children get in free.
  • Phone: 856-071-212068
Food and drinks -- a little cheaper than in Luang Prabang -- are available in the village at the entrance of the falls. There is a cafe/restaurant at the top section of Kuang Si.

Clean changing rooms are available along the main trail that parallels the waterfalls and pools. Toilets are available away from the trail and closer to the paved road.

The Bear Rescue Center[post_ads_2]

Rather than taking the asphalt road to the top section of the Kuang Si Falls, take the signed trail that veers off to the right for better scenery and a chance to see the bears lounging around their enclosure at the bear rescue center.

The Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre began in 2003 to house bears that were rescued from the illegal pet and Chinese medicine trades.

Climbing the Falls[post_ads_2]

Starting from a trail to the right of the top tier of the waterfalls, it is possible to climb to the top of the falls. The trail is steep, slippery, and especially difficult in flip-flops. The view from the top is incredible and you can carefully wade in the shallow water literally to the edge of a potentially deadly drop.

Cross the viewing bridge to the right side of the falls to begin your climb.

Diving into the Pools[post_ads_2]

Only the middle pool -- often the most popular -- has a spot deep enough to dive into, and doing so is still inherently risky due to the ever-changing sediment on the bottom. Look for the wooden steps going up a tree that grows out over the water.

Safety Around the Waterfalls[post_ads_2]

While swimming at the Kuang Si Falls is very popular, the current can get strong enough during the rainy season to sweep people down the cascades. Know your limitations, watch out for strong currents, and swim with others well away from the edges of each tier.

With so many people milling around, keeping an eye on your valuables while swimming can be a challenge. Keeping everything together in a waterproof bag works best.

The small fish that ferociously attack unsuspecting swimmers' feet are completely harmless; people pay for the same dead-skin removal at fish spas around Asia!

Getting to Kuang Si Falls[post_ads_2]

The Kuang Si waterfalls are located around 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Luang Prabang -- plan on around a 45-minute ride by tuk-tuk.

By Tuk-Tuk: Walking around town, you'll have no shortage of offers to see the waterfalls from drivers lounging in their tuk-tuks. Prices for a round-trip start at around 200,000 Lao kip; you can negotiate a little because of the abundance of drivers but won't receive much of a discount. Group with other travelers to share the expense equally. Technically, tuk-tuks can only take up to six people and must pass a roadside checkpoint but this is sometimes ignored.

[post_ads]If you are the first to approach a tuk-tuk, you may have to wait as the driver makes rounds to gather up more passengers. Stick to your negotiated price no matter how many additional people he recruits. If the process is taking too long, despite the driver's protests, you can abort and join a group already prepared to depart. You may have more difficulty after 1 p.m. as a majority of people have already left for Kuang Si Falls.

Your driver will wait for you in the parking area; don't cave in to pressure for a short stay -- you can stay until closing time at 5:30 p.m. if you want! Realistically, three to four hours is plenty of time to enjoy the area.

By Minivan: Some travel agencies run air-conditioned minivans to Kuang Si Falls for between 40,000 to 60,000 Lao kip; you'll have to wait for the minimum number of passengers before departing. An open-air tuk-tuk is more enjoyable for taking in the pleasant scenery along the way.
By Motorbike: Adventurous travelers have the option to rent a motorbike to drive to Kuang Si Falls independently. Unfortunately, the high cost of renting a motorbike, filling it with fuel, and paying the parking fee means you will definitely spend more to enjoy driving to the falls yourself.

Luang Prabang has a poor history of renting old or broken motorbikes to tourists, and even a more nefarious reputation of motorbike theft. Always lock up your motorbike and if at all possible avoid leaving your passport at the rental office -- suggest a photocopy instead.


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Travel Magazine: You Have to See the Kuang Si Waterfalls to Believe Them!
You Have to See the Kuang Si Waterfalls to Believe Them!
Travel Magazine
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