Travellers to Luang Prabang will probably visit Kuang Si and Tad Se Waterfalls but few people know of Tad Thong, a rainy season-only series of small waterfalls six kilometres from town. While certainly not as spectacular as the other two sets of falls, Tad Thong offers the chance to take a short vigorous hike through the jungle, a brisk spring-fed pool to cool off in and a place entirely to yourself. It’s a very low-key experience. If you’re sure-footed, want to enjoy some nature and get away from the tourist crowds, Tad Thong is the ticket.
The trail is a two-kilometre loop through the jungle. It should take 45 to 60 minutes and there’s an optional side trail to walk to a Khmu village, 15 minutes one-way. There are three small waterfalls, one at the trail entrance and two within the jungle. The waterfalls flow from approximately July to December/January.
A basic map is posted at the entrance and we recommend you take a photo of it, but even with the map, the track can still be a little confusing, so keep your wits about you while walking. The trail is not maintained so expect it to be uneven, slippery and muddy when wet. Wear proper hiking shoes/sandals, bring insect repellent, water and snacks.
Though Tad Thong is only six kilometres from town, we don’t recommend walking or cycling as Route 13 is a major artery and you’ll be sharing the highway with heavily loaded transport trucks. If you choose to cycle, get a mountain bike with gears.
The best way is to hire a tuk tuk, roundtrip costing around 150,000 kip, or rent a motorbike. Head south on Route 13 for four kilometres until you see the bright yellow Beerlao branded sign “Tat thong Water Fall & Restaurant.” Turn and go along the rolling dirt road for 2.8 kilometres to the entrance, parking and ticket booth. Here you will find a restaurant and a small lake surrounded by huts used by the locals for picnics and beer drinking. In fact, it’s a fantastic place to come and just hang out surrounded by the mountains. We even spotted a few inner tubes to use for floating on the lake.
By Cindy Fan.
Last updated on 26th August, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.