The Kuang Si Waterfall is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals. You can change clothes for swimming at the wooden huts located close to the entrance.
The pools also have cascades of up to five metres high with deliciously cold water due to the shade given by the surrounding lush tropical jungle, if you don’t fancy a swim then you can relax in the shade and watch others having fun jumping in and out of the water.
There are trails allowing you to climb up to the top where you can see the stream feeding into the falls and enjoy some more natural pools. Remember to bring the correct footwear as the trails can get slippery and are certainly not recommended for children or the elderly.
Breathtaking cascades of water make the Kuang Si one of Luang Prabang’s most popular tourist attractions. The journey to the waterfall is worth taking time over with vistas across rice fields and the opportunity to meet locals along the way. A Hmong village is a great place to stop where the older female villagers still dress in traditional costume, you can also purchase their hand woven crafts to take home as a souvenir. If you want to take photos at the village you will be expected to buy from them in return.
The weather at the waterfalls is noticeably cooler making it a really good place to escape the heat; children will especially enjoy a day out here playing in the falls. You can make a day of it at the waterfalls by bringing a picnic with you or buying some food and drinks from one of the local stalls. There are tables and shelters located at the front of the lower level pools.
The Kuang Si Waterfall is located 29 km south of Luang Prabang. You can make your own way to the waterfall by hiring a motorcycle which means you can take in some scenic villages en-route. The roads however are rocky and can be hard going so an easier option is to book a tour which usually costs around $5 US per person; you can also hire your own tuk-tuk for a half-day rental or jump on one of the mini-buses departing daily from the Naluang Mini Bus station.
An unusual alternative is to hire a boat and ride down the Mekong River before catching another boat for a short hop across to the falls. You will also need to pay an additional admission fee to one of the locals at the falls usually $2.00 US per person. This goes towards keeping the bridges and walkways in good working order.
NB: In the rainy season the falls are truly spectacular but there is too much water to swim safely. Towards the end of the dry season the falls me be a lot less spectacular.