KUANG SI FALLS is unlike most waterfalls which end in deep dark pools. This three-tiered waterfall in Laos has bright turquoise pools that rival the Caribbean sea. Tucked into a steep hillside, the shallow pools allow for the unusually bright color to shine through.
Just 29 kilometers south of Luang Prabang, it’s a favorite day trip for both tourists and locals. Walk around this city in north-central Laos for just a bit and it’s guaranteed you’ll have tuk-tuk drivers offering to take you to these marvelous falls.
These are typical travertine falls, with many terraces, light rocks, and shallow pools. There’s a small fee to access the site, but the coinage goes to the maintenance of the walkways and bridges that get you to the falls — so it’s a worthy price to pay.
Most of the pools are open for swimming, and in this landlocked country, their waters are a cool and welcome respite. Certain pools are considered sacred, so honor the signs and don’t go for a dip in those.
If you speak to travelers who’ve spent any time in this area of Laos, they’ll all tell you that you’d be crazy not to make the trip and take a swim.
How to get there
Kuang Si Falls is about 29 km from Luang Prabang. It takes 45 minutes to one hour by tuk-tuk (the term for any automobile rickshaw in Southeast Asia).
You can take a shared tuk-tuk, also called a songtaew, that can hold up to 9 passengers. The drivers will usually leave when there are 4-5 passengers, but ultimately it’s the driver’s decision. It should cost you around 50,000 kip, or $6.
Another option is to hire a private tuk-tuk. Of course, there’s no waiting with this option, but it’ll cost you 180,000-200,000kip or $22-$25.
And a third method is to take a boat. The Banana Boat BB01 is a tour that takes you on the Mekong River for about an hour, and then you can catch a truck for a couple km to the falls. It’s an all-day affair, but a great way to experience two of the best experiences in Luang Prabang.
What to consider
- Entrance costs 20,000kip (~$2.50)
- To get to the falls, you have to walk through the famous Asiatic black bear sanctuary. It’s worth a stop to watch these furry creatures.
- There are several longer hikes around the area that are awesome to experience if you’re into trekking.
- You can spend a half day or full day on this adventure.
- If it’s in your budget, take the private tuk-tuk and get there early before the crowds.