Visiting Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang – A Detailed First-Hand Guide

Turquoise at Kuang Si Waterfall

Kuang Si Falls is a popular destination for a tour from Luang Prabang and it’s easy to see why.

The falls make for a photogenic stop-off thanks to their incredible turquoise colour, caused by the reflection of calcium carbonate in the water, which collects as it passes through the surrounding limestone mountains.

We spent around three hours at the falls and I have used our first-hand experiences as well as research from other travellers to help you enjoy the trip as much as we did.

So without further ado, let’s visit Kuang Si Falls!

*Please note, all prices in this post are in the local Laotian currency, Kip. At the bottom of this post, you will find a currency converter to see prices in the most used foreign currencies.


Where is Kuang Si Waterfall?

Kuang Si Waterfall is about 30km from the centre of Luang Prabang in Laos.


Getting To Kuang Si Falls

There a few different options for visiting Kuang Si Falls:

1. Tuk Tuk

A private tuk-tuk can be booked through most hostels and guesthouses. You should expect to pay somewhere between ₭70,000 and ₭100,000 per person (though we managed to get down to ₭160,000 after some haggling).

You can also wait for shared tuk-tuks but you will have to wait for them to fill up before they leave. There is one that leaves nears Joma bakery where it can be possible to get a seat for ₭40,000.

2. Hire a Motorbike or Scooter

You can hire a motorbike in Luang Prabang for around ₭140,000 a day or a scooter for around ₭100,000. You will also need to pay ₭20,000 to park at the falls.

Please be aware there have been a number of scooter hire scams in Luang Prabang in recent years so be incredibly careful when choosing who you hire from and make sure you lock the bikes up when you leave them.

FURTHER READING: Motorbike Safety in Laos – What You Need to Know

3. Cycle

You can rent a mountain bike for around ₭50,000 in Luang Prabang.

The falls are a 30km ride so will take you around two hours to get there.

You may be able to negotiate a tuk-tuk to take you one way with the bike on the back so you don’t have to cycle in both directions but this will obviously incur an additional cost.

4. Tour or Minivan

You can join a group tour in a minivan to the falls for around ₭60,000 Whilst cheaper, the big disadvantage is that they have a number of people to pick up so end up not getting to the falls until after 0930 which is when they start to get busy.

There are also a number of tours which incorporate other attractions in the local area…

The Route to Get to Kuang Si Falls

It is 29km from the bottom of Mount Phousi to Kuang Si Falls. The roads are in fairly good condition and it will take around 45 minutes to get there.


Visiting Kuang Si Falls

The entrance of Kuang Si Falls, with a blue sign leading to a narrow pathway into the lush green forest.

Cost of Entry

It costs ₭20,000 to enter the park.

Best Time To Go

It is best to get to the Falls early in the morning as the main tourist buses arrive from 9 am.

A private tour such as a tuk-tuk will pick you up from around 7:30 which should get you to the Falls at 8:15 giving you time to start exploring before the main crowds arrive.

What to Expect

When first entering it is best to head down the path on the left-hand side which will take you past the bear sanctuary and down a number of walkways through the various different pools. This should allow you to get to the most photogenic part of the falls before the crowds arrive.

The walk up to the main falls is beautiful. We were there on a damp, misty day and the quiet atmosphere of the morning was only broken by the noise of millions of insects and crabs scuttling across the pathways to get from one pool to another.

The paths were very muddy and we instantly regretted not wearing something a bit more robust on our feet. Flip-flops were not a good choice!

the bottom of some muddy flip flops
Very muddy flip flops!

The first glimpse of the lower pools instantly made us realise it was a good choice to come here. Seeing the first view of the water is striking, it is hard to believe that water can be such an intense colour.

Turquoise at Kuang Si Waterfall

This photo looking down at Becca on one of the bridges reminded me very much of the Plitvice Lakes National Parks in Croatia, the water having the same cartoony colour that looks like it’s been added in Photoshop.

A lady standing on a wooden bridge with turquoise blue waters behind her
Kuang Si falls in Laos

Above is the classic photo of the main waterfall. This can be taken from a wooden bridge which passes directly in front of them. As you can see we were pretty much the only people in this part of the reserve because we arrived nice and early. The photo of me on the bridge below was taken at 09:05.

The bridge in from of Kuang Si Falls

Trekking to the Top

For many people, the main waterfall as far as they get before turning back but there is the option to trek above the falls.

To the left, there is a very steep path which can be taken all the way to the source of the falls. It is a manageable walk for anyone with reasonable fitness, though (from personal experience!) I would suggest wearing something with a bit more grip than flip flops!

The photo below shows just how steep and muddy the paths can get. Thankfully the bamboo barriers were strong enough to haul ourselves up!

There were points where the path and waterfalls almost became one!

A waterfall and path crossing each other

Just as we felt we were headed off into the middle of no-where we reached the top where there were some calm pools of water and a picnic area.

The top of the falls also had its own natural version of an infinity pool! Very cool.

From the top, there is the option to do a further 3km walk or take a boat for ₭10,000 to the source of the falls where there is a cave. We did not do this part but we bumped into another couple who did and said it was a nice relaxing walk and the cave is long, low and (perhaps unsurprisingly!) very dark. You are issued with a torch before you head in and there are a couple of places to stop and see Buddha statues left by a monk who would use the cave for meditation.

A lush green valley in Laos with clouds coming over the mountain opposite

The view from the top felt worth the trek. You can see from the clouds rolling over into the valley just how humid it was on the day we visited.

The path loops around the top of the waterfall and back down a path the other side which is just as steep.

It took us around 45 minutes to complete this part of the loop.

Are You Allowed to Swim at Kuang Si Waterfall?

Swimming is allowed when visiting Kuang Si Falls and they have facilities that encourage you to do so. Whilst there are no lockers there are changing rooms by one of the bigger pools.

My favourite travel towel, compact and quick-drying. Ours came with us the whole way around Southeast Asia

There are two deeper pools that are best for swimming one of which has a log which you can jump off of into the water. The water is cold but you quickly adjust!

Higher up you will also find small fish that will nibble your toes similar to the pedicure spas we saw all around Southeast Asia.

Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre

A moon bear in a hammock

The Tat Kuang Si rescue centre is run by Free The Bears who have bear sanctuaries in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, Tat Kuang Si was the first of these sanctuaries.

These bears are Asiatic Black Bears, also known as Moon Bears due to the distinctive crescent on their chests.

This is not a zoo, these bears have been rescued from some horrible situations and are here for rehabilitation or to live out their lives in a friendly and comfortable environment.

An image of small cages which bears are kept in for up to 10 years for bile farming,

The main cause of bears ending up here is bile farming, a painful and cruel practice which involves extracting the bear’s digestive fluid for use in traditional medicine. Some of the cages the bears were kept in are on show here and are ting when compared to the size of these beautiful creatures.

The bear sanctuary does not receive any money from the entrance fee you paid so, if you can, please try to donate whilst you are there or buy some of the merchandise they have available, to help keep the sanctuaries running.


Kuang Si Falls Tours

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