As soon as a saw photos of Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang and I knew it was somewhere I had to visit in Laos. The beautiful turquoise waters flowing down the numerous cascading waterfalls seemed like a picture perfect site.
How to get to Kuang Si Falls
There are two main options to get to Kuang Si Falls, either drive there on a scooter or pay a tuk tuk driver to take you.
Hire a scooter
I only really recommend this option if you are an experienced rider. The roads in Laos are definitely the worse I have seen in South East Asia. So naturally, having never driven a scooter before, this was the option we took. Be prepared for dirt, crazy drivers and plenty of pot holes between the town centre in Luang Prabang and Kuang Si Falls. Parking your motorbike will cost about $0.25
After leaving our guesthouse we rode our scooter the 29kms out of town. Unfortunately halfway through our drive out we got caught in a tropical storm. No exactly convenient when you’re riding a scooter. After taking ‘cover’ for a while we finally arrived at the falls… as soon as the rain stopped.
Hire a Tuk Tuk
The other, maybe safer option, is to hire a tuk tuk to take you there. The tuk tuks in Laos legally can only seat six people, but drivers will squish in more. If you are in the main square in Luang Prabang, at the top of where the night markets are held you will easly find a tuk tuk to take you. Though, it may be a lot harder to find one which will give you a decent price.
If you are wanting to save money the drivers will usually round up a group of people to share the cost. They should charge somewhere between $3.50-$6.00. If there are more drivers wanting to take us to the falls than there were people wanting to visit, so use this to your advantage to get a decent price. Alternatively, you can hire a private tuk tuk for $20 with some haggling.
The Bear Sanctuary at Kuang Si Falls
The path is well trodden up towards the falls and soon we are greeted a moon bear. And then another. They are enjoying their day lazing around. There is a viewing platform higher up which gives the perfect view over their enclosure. This sanctuary is not funded by the government, rather by an Australian charity. Many of the bears have been rescued from poachers as their bile is used in Chinese medicine.
The centre houses more than 20 rescued bears, and they enjoying large forested enclosures, cool fresh water streams fed by the nearby waterfall, and lots of play and enrichment items to keep them fully occupied. It is well worth supporting their conservation efforts by donating or by purchasing a souvenir T-shirt.
The lower pools are where you can swim at Kuang Si Falls. Further up the lower pools you go the less people there will be. 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.
The water itself is quite chilly, providing the perfect relief from the blistering heat. 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 a free foot treatment.
The Main Waterfall
Further up the path you will find the main waterfall. Trust me it is hard to miss and extremely beautiful. A bridge stretches out front of it over the main pool allowing you to see it from either side. Unfortunately, you are not able to swim in it. 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.
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. I saw a lot of people take their shoes off to make the climb. Though, about half way to the top, there are two options. Continue on the path up or to go left towards the ‘do not enter’ and bamboo fenced off path. To get to the secret pool you need to ignore all warning signs and jump over.
Hike to the top
Continuing the hike up the waterfall is not for the faint hearted, especially in the heat. It is extremely steep, the ground is uneven and covered with tree roots. It is easy to tell this climb is a challenge by comparing the amount of people at the top with the massive number of tourists below.
Unlike the lower pools, at the top the pools are not as bright of gorgeous blue colour. But there is an awesome view point which looks right over the Laotian jungle. There is 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 demanding. I may have fallen over a few times…
What you actually need to know
- The entry fee into Kuang Si Falls is $2.50.
- It is located 29 kilometeres south of Luang Prabang
- Open every day from 8am until 5.30pm
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