You cannot go to Luang Prabang without visiting the Kuang Si waterfalls. These cascading blue pools are a breath-taking sight to see. Nestled amongst the trees with winding paths and wooden walkways, you can see the falls from all angles with plenty of opportunities for photographs!
If you want to beat the crowds then going to the falls as soon as you are allowed in is your best bet, which is 8am. The easiest way to get there is by tuk-tuk and there are an abundance of them just waiting for you at the corner where the night market meets the post office. Prices of tuktuks vary depending on how many people are in your group and how long you would like to stay at the falls. As there were only 2 of us we managed to get a tuk-tuk there with the driver waiting for us at the falls for 4 hours then back to the market for 200,000 (£20). We did manage to get a different driver to agree on 180,000 but this was only for 3 hours. Me being my usual budget-friendly (stingy) self originally thought 200000 was way too expensive, but on trying a few different drivers we soon realised that this was the only price they were accepting. We were told it would be 50,000 each if we found more people however there were not many people around at that time. In hindsight I would say ask around in your hostel that morning to see if anyone would be going to the falls soon, if not then £20 for 2 for the whole day really is not bad.
It is possible to get to the falls by minibus which most hostels offer for around the same price. This is more comfortable but you get less time to spend at the falls plus they arrive around lunch time which is very busy. So if you want gorgeous photographs with no or very few people in them then I suggest getting to the falls early!
All the tuktuks drop you at the same spot (with the choice of them dropping you at the butterfly farm before the falls instead) which is surrounded by tourist-aimed shops and food stalls, right at the gate entrance to the falls. There you have to pay your 20,000 kip entrance fee. walk less than a minute through the woods and you reach Luang Prabang bear sanctuary where they have around 20 moon bears rescued from the bile industry. Buy yourself a Free The Bears t-shirt like me if you wish to make a donation to help save more of these gorgeous creatures.
Carry on up the path through the trees and within minutes you have reached the bottom of the Kuang Si falls. Milky blue/green pools with small cascading falls run through this beautiful setting in the forest. There are toilets, changing facilities, picnic benches and even a café for you to use as you wish. Follow the pools up and you will reach the main fall which you can view from a small wooden bridge. To the left of this bridge are some small steps carved into the dirt which only looks inviting to adventurous types like us. Follow these steps up a sometimes slippery path through the thicker forest for a half hour hike to some truly beautiful shallow pools. We went on the rope swing and enjoyed the views before heading down the other side of the falls. If you are not steady on your feet then I do not recommend going this way. It is very slippery and there is not much to hold onto except some vines from the trees. It took us about half hour to get down safely but it was precarious most of the way. There are no good views going this way either so just go back down the other way.
Unfortunately because of this stressful trip down we did not have time to look for the not-so-secret secret pool. We did however go for a swim in a pool by ourselves, one of the pools above the main one where everyone swims. They are nice and cool (very cool in the early morning) and even have some small fish which may nibble at your feet! All in all the falls were spectacular to go in and mesmerising to watch and is a must-see in Luang Prabang, so don’t miss out!
Have you been to the Kuang Si falls? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments.