Popular Waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos
Culture and nature lovers will fall in love with Luang Prabang – an ancient capital that offers a perfect balance of exploration for nature and spirit. Apart from its French colonial architecture, Mekong River and grand temples, the pristine waterfalls are something that travelers also look forward to. Not too far from the city center, the distance to some of these beautiful natural attractions will be the advantage for any traveler’s experience.
Let’s explore the favorite names of the waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos and have your own fun time there!
Kuang Si Waterfall – Most Visited Waterfall in Luang Prabang
This is on the list of most beautiful and most visited waterfalls in Laos with gorgeous turquoise cascading pools which are the perfect place to seek some refuge from the Laotian heat. You can have an excellent half day or even full day to visit 50-meter Kuang Si Waterfall to cool down in the pools or hike to the top for magnificent views of the surrounding.
Reaching here, you have several choice of activities that can be done such as trekking to the top of falls; simply enjoying the pristine nature; swimming in the pools or visiting the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre which locates just inside the entrance gate.
It is easy to get here by tuk tuk (~ 200,000kip for round trip, up to 6 people) or minibus (~ 60,000kip), motorbike (~USD 20/day + petrol and parking fee) or private service (from USD 45) which take around 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the destination.
The best time to visit Kuang Si Waterfall is from December to April/May when the monsoon season has just finished and the cascading pools start to settle again. Although the water flows over the limestone more slowly during these months, it gives the turquoise color as expected. Of course, this period is also high/peak season so manage to come early on the weekdays to avoid the crowds. Outside the peak times, at the monsoon from July to October in Laos, heavy rains transform the falls from calm, picturesque scene to thundering rapids that are muddy coffee color instead.
There are also some unsafe places with restrictions which are not allowed to swim. So, don’t forget to follow for your own safety while spending time here.
Location: 29km from Luang Prabang to the South
Visiting Time: 8:00 to 17:30
Entrance fee: 20,000 kip per person including camera fees and entry to Bear Rescue Centre.
Hiking time from bottom to top: Around 15-20 minutes (40-60 minutes return trip)
Tad Sae Waterfall
Tad Sae Waterfall appears and attracts everyone by its picturesque beauty as a breathtaking natural wonder that you can enjoy during the rainy season in Luang Prabang. The fall is more popular with Laotians than foreign tourists (modest swimwear is recommended while the locals swim with fully clothed). Therefore, this place will be suitable for those who like the tranquility and expect to learn about the life and culture of the local people.
Tad Sae is only accessible by boat, making the journey to this place as an adventure and a chance to immerse yourself into the nature and get close to the locals on weekends. If you want to have a quieter space then you should visit during weekdays.
Not as famous and tall as Kuang Si, but Tad Sae is still worth a visit with its lovely waterfalls, clear blue water and unspoiled, peaceful space. The flat rock surfaces arranged in layers, forming steps for the waterfall to flow down is one of the special features of this waterfall. You will be really amazed to see the strong and gentle water flowing over the rocks below the lakes.
In addition, this beautiful place is also suitable for many outdoor activities such as swimming, sunbathing on wooden chairs. In recent years, Tad Sae has become an elephant hub where tourists can meet, ride or bath elephants. For those who love animals, try to bath or feed them with food instead of riding, that can be amazing experience.
To reach here, you can take a drive by tuk tuk (~ 200,000kip) or minibus (50,000kip/person) or private vehicle from the center to Nam Khan River bank where you catch a 10-minute boat (~ 10,000kip) to the fall.
The best time to experience Tad Sae Fall is between August and November (the rainy season), when the water is flowing and really cascading over the swimming hole walls. Out of these months, the fall becomes less impressive due to drier look.
Location: 15km from Luang Prabang to the Southeast
Visiting Time: 8:00 to 17:30
Entrance fee: 20,000 kip per person
Elephant activities (ride, bath, buy food to feed them): extra charges are applied
Tad Thong Waterfall
Not as magnificent look as Kuang Si or massive as Tad Sae, Tad Thong Waterfall attracts those who look for a crowd-less cascade of water which is off the beaten path. Once in a group of waterfalls that was frequently visited by tourists, Tad Thong now looks completely empty and sit abandoned. It is about 8km out of town where you can reach by bike, motorbike, tuk tuk or even on foot. However, be aware of rough roads and mainly uphill getting there.
There is a trail through the jungle which takes about 45 minutes to complete and it can be rewarded with a dip into the pool at the base of the waterfall. However, the trail loop seems the branch-off track to the main “attraction”. So, you should better prepare to get a bit creative passing by gaps where bridges used to be or more. Sensible footwear is necessary in this case. There is also an inconspicuous path that leads you to a small village where the children are so excited to see you.
The waterfall is not large, about 5 meters high. There are ponds on the upper and lower parts for visitors to play in the water in the nice atmosphere. Rainy season is the best time to visit as a lot of water flowing through the rocks. In the dry season, the fall can dry up, turning into a trickle. But, if you just want a quiet place to hike in the jungle, this is still a good spot.
Anyway, what makes Tad Thong worth your try, that is its peaceful atmosphere and the locals in the village who add more color and sense of intimacy. 2-3 hour walk through Laotian water cascades and pristine jungle – you can’t go wrong with Tad Thong.
Location: 8-10km from Luang Prabang to the South
Visiting Time: 8:00 to 17:00
Entrance fee: 20,000 kip per person
What to bring for a day out to the Waterfalls?
- Swimming gear, including towel, dry bag, dry clothes for changing. As Laotian usually swim fully clothed, you’d better to prepare modest swimsuit to bring with you.
- Suitable shoes as the hike to the falls can be steep and muddy. Flip flops are not recommended.
- Snacks and drinking water in reusable bottle are necessary under the heat in Laos. You can also pack some picnic lunch along as the food at the restaurants can be expensive.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, bug spray should not be missed. Calm and still water is perfect environment for mosquitos so bring insect repellent to minimize any risk for yourself.