Kuang Si Waterfall (also spelled Kuang Xi or Kouang Si) is one of the must-see natural wonders in Laos. Located 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang, it consists of a multi-tiered waterfall, with the main one reaching a height of 60 metres.
There is a wooden bridge built right in front of this majestic waterfall for visitors to admire the view. Don’t forget to take a selfie here as this is the best, most unobstructed view you can get of the waterfall.
Although the main waterfall by itself is beautiful enough and worthy of a visit, another attractive feature of Kuang Si Falls is the series of beautiful cascading pools of milky blue water that you can actually swim in. The water gets its color from its high mineral content.
Within the area, there is also a sanctuary for rescued sun bears, which you can visit if you’re so inclined.
Kuang Si Waterfalls Entrance Fee
The entrance fee to Kuang Si Waterfalls is 20,000 kip (approximately USD 2.10). The waterfall is open every day from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Best Time to Go to Kuang Si Waterfalls
The best season to visit Luang Prabang and Kuang Si Waterfalls is between December and early May, when the monsoon season has ended and the temperatures are pleasant.
During the drier months, the water at Kuang Si Falls flows more slowly and collects traces of limestone and other minerals as it flows over the rocks. This is what gives it the beautiful aquamarine color it’s famous for.
In contrast, during the monsoon season from June to October, torrential downpours cause the water to become a muddy brown color. Swimming and hiking are also dangerous at this time.
However, as you might expect, going in the peak season means having to deal with the crowds. To avoid that, try going early in the morning on a weekday.
Unfortunately, if you join a group tour, you don’t really get to pick the time and will likely arrive at the same time as the other tour buses.
How to Get to Kuang Si Waterfalls
There are several options to get from Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Waterfall:
By Tuk Tuk
A tuk tuk or songthaew is a common public transport in Laos and Thailand, and is one of the cheapest ways to get around. It’s basically a pickup truck with benches at the back that can accommodate up to 10 (but usually more) people.
You can either go on a shared tuk tuk or hire a private one. To get a shared tuk tuk, simply approach one of the many in Luang Prabang and ask if they can take you to the waterfall. However, they will likely wait until the tuk tuk is full before they depart.
Be sure to agree on the fare (it should be approximately 50,000 kip per person) and check that they are able to provide a return trip. Otherwise, it will be hard to find a transport back to Luang Prabang from the waterfall. Also, don’t forget to check the return hour.
For a more flexible schedule, you might want to consider hiring a private tuk tuk. This can be done the same way as above or arranged through your hotel. If you’re traveling in a big group, going on a private tuk tuk may be the best option and can even save you a lot of money.
Another way to go independently to Kuang Si Waterfalls is by renting a car. You can do so at any travel agency in Luang Prabang or at your hotel. Renting a car should cost you around 250,000 kip per day, which can be cheap if you split the cost with other travelers. The best part about self-driving to Kuang Si Waterfall is that you get to set your own schedule and bring as much stuff as you want.
Renting a motorbike is a popular option in Laos as it is in the rest of Southeast Asia. However, driving a motorbike to Kuang Si Waterfall should only be attempted if you’re experienced and confident on a motorbike. The roads are in poor condition and there is a general lack of traffic rules.
On top of that, Laos is also known for motorbike scams, in which the rental agency will follow you, steal the motorbike, and force you to pay for their “loss”. Motorbike rental in Laos will set you back around 120,000 kip per day.
If you desire a more intense workout, cycling 60 kilometres both ways on a hilly road might give you that. A good, sturdy bike is needed for this trip. Make sure you rent from a reputable company, as the motorbike scam also happens to bicycles.
Although uncommon, going by boat to Kuang Si Waterfalls is doable and can be booked as a tour package. The hour-long boat ride will take you down Mekong River, traversing through mountains and jungle. You will also get a glimpse of the local lifestyle at the villages you pass by.
However, the boat will only take you close to the waterfall — you will still have to continue the rest of the journey on a pickup truck (but this will be included in the package).
The tour typically costs around USD 90, inclusive of hotel transfers, meals, and entrance fee. Inquire at travel agencies or your hotel reception for booking.
How to Book a Tour to Kuang Si Waterfalls
Going independently is of course the best way to visit a place if you need the flexibility of going and leaving at any time you wish. But if you can’t drive or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car/motorbike, your next best option is to book a tour.
This can be done through your hotel or any travel agent in Luang Prabang, which was what my partner and I did. Alternatively, you can also book online before or during your trip. I recommend booking on KLOOK, as it allows you to read other travelers’ reviews to help you decide.
Most of the Kuang Si tour packages offered on KLOOK are combined with other activities such as the Mekong sunset cruise, kayaking, cave visit, and alms-giving. You can also book only a shared minibus ticket to get to and from Kuang Si Waterfall.
If this is your first time using KLOOK, register with my referral code: FFKSC to get USD 3.20 off your first booking. Or click here to learn more about the app.
Can You Swim at Kuang Si Waterfalls?
The blue water at Kuang Si Falls looks so pristine, it’s hard to believe that visitors are actually allowed to swim in it, but they are. There are a few pools that you can swim in including the one at the very top.
However, the pools are mostly shielded from the sun by lush tree canopies, so the water temperature may be a little chilly — unlike the tropical beaches you might be used to in Southeast Asia.
Here are some of the things to keep in mind if you plan to swim in Kuang Si Falls:
- There is no lifeguard at Kuang Si Falls. Even if you go with a tour, your guide will most likely leave you to explore on your own. So, swim at your own risk. If you can’t swim, stay in the shallow parts, and avoid swimming alone. If you have kids with you, do not let them swim unattended.
- There are several jumping points, including rope swings and tree branches, but this is not advisable as you can’t be sure of the water depth. However, if you still want to jump, do so with extreme caution. Look out for submerged rocks or other hazards.
- Do not swim or jump when intoxicated.
- Take extra care when stepping on the surrounding rocks — they can be sharp and slippery.
- Some of the pools are off-limit (there are signs indicating this). Please respect the rules — they are there for a reason.
- The Lao culture is quite conservative. Change immediately into normal clothes once you finish swimming. Avoid walking around in your swimwear.
- Take care of your valuables, or better yet, leave them at your hotel. If you have to bring your phone and some cash, keep them with you in a dry bag or waterproof case.
Hiking to the Top of Kuang Si Waterfalls
The top tier of any waterfall is usually the cleanest and best place to swim. The top of Kuang Si Waterfall apparently offers the most stunning views as well as a chance to get away from the crowd.
To get there, go to the left of the wooden footbridge near the main waterfall and you’ll find the trail that leads all the way to the top.
How tough is the hike?
Unfortunately, I can’t really comment on how tough the trail is because I think we got lost and didn’t make it to the top. But according to other people, the hike to the top of Kuang Si Falls only takes about 15 minutes and can be attempted by anyone of average fitness level.
However, some parts are quite steep and have water flowing through them, so it could get slippery.
Is the hike worth it?
On a clear day, you should be able to see the Lao countryside from the top. There are also supposed to be a few small pools to dip in and a small picnic area.
Since we didn’t make it to the top, all we did find were some trickles of spring water. But it was still an enjoyable hike through the forest.
What to Bring to Kuang Si Waterfalls
Whether you’re joining a tour or visiting independently, here’s a list of items that you should bring to Kuang Si Falls:
- Swimwear, towel, and spare clothes if you’re planning to swim. The towel and spare clothes are also useful if you sweat easily during the hike. There are changing rooms available near the picnic area.
- Proper shoes or hiking sandals, if you’re hiking to the top as the trail can be steep and slippery.
- Sunscreen — always a must in Southeast Asia.
- Insect repellent, if you’re particularly susceptible to insect bites. Clean stagnant water makes a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes that can cause dengue fever. I personally didn’t see any on my visit though.
- Snacks and drinking water, especially if you’re planning to spend the whole day there. Although there is a restaurant available, it can be quite expensive, as most restaurants at tourist attractions are.
- A camera/phone. Otherwise your friends might not believe you when you rave to them about the blue pools.
- A dry bag for your electronics.
Final Thoughts on Kuang Si Waterfalls
Are the Kuang Si Waterfalls worth visiting?
There are some popular attractions that look better in pictures than in real life, and then there are those that really live up to their fame. Kuang Si Waterfalls are clearly the latter.
They really look as pretty as their pictures, and I can confirm that the blue water is not a product of some photo-editing app.
The fact that the place is very easy to reach — with so many different transport options — makes it a must-visit attraction if you ever find yourself in Laos.
What do you think of Kuang Si Waterfalls? What is the most beautiful waterfall you have ever seen? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.