The extraordinary Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang in Laos was one of the highlights of my trip to the country. Sometimes in my travels I have encountered waterfalls at the same time as when I was experiencing other things, such as volcanoes or cave systems, so the falls on those occasions were nothing more than a sideshow. However, here in Luang Prabang, I made the conscious effort to visit Kuang Si Falls, as it has such a revered reputation in the backpacking community. I have never heard anybody say a bad word to say about it. But what makes these falls so beautiful?
The Falls here begin on a steep hillside and lead down to a major cascade, with at least a 200ft drop. I didn’t consider the falls here at Kuang Si to be noisy, although the cascading water makes a very calming and almost hypnotic sound as it crashing into the pools below. Tourists and locals alike enjoy swimming at the foot of the Kuang Si Falls, and you will be encouraged to take a dip yourself! You will be glad to hear that there are ample changing rooms for you to get in to your swimming shorts/costumes and then maybe change back into your normal clothes again afterwards as you head back into town. Solo female travellers in their bikinis may attract unwanted attention from some locals, but that’s just standard practice anywhere you go in the world, right?
It took me around 40 minutes from the Phousi area of Luang Prabang to reach Kuang Si Falls. This was done by tuktuk. My driver was more than willing to wait for me and take me back to my hostel on the return journey. It was $15USD for the whole round trip, and I think I got a great bargain, as other backpackers I had spoken to afterwards mentioned that they were charged over $20USD for the same privilege. Entrance to the Kuang Si Falls themselves will set you back 20,000 KIP. I paid the admission fee in Lao Kip, although you will find many Tuktuk drivers will prefer being paid in USD.
Incidentally, the admission to Kuang Si Falls also gives you admittance to the Bear Sanctuary located nearby, and this is another must-do when you’re in the area, as the bears here are being helped having been rescued from poachers. I also saw many elephants around the outskirts of Kuang Si Falls. I was going to enquire about the price to ride one, but in the end I was having so much fun the falls themselves that I actually forgot! Luckily, I didn’t miss out on too much, as I was able to get a lot of practice riding elephants in Cambodia, but that’s another story…
There are a few other cool waterfalls near Luang Prabang, but Kuang Si Falls was the only one that I had time to visit. I would love to go back and experience the others, but I think Kuang Si Falls has a great reputation for a reason, and I would recommend a few hours to everybody if they are in the area, as around here it really is like Heaven on Earth!